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Case for separate Scottish Labour party says leadership candidate

Andy Burnham MP, right, appearing on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show

“There is a case” for the Scottish Labour Party operating completely separately north of the border, UK leadership candidate Andy Burnham has said.

Jim Murphy announced on Saturday he is to resign as Scottish Labour leader after the party was almost wiped out in Scotland at the general election.

He has pledged to table a report of proposed reforms to the Scottish executive before leaving next month as debate over the future of the party intensifies.

Some who called for Mr Murphy to step down also want to see the Scottish party given more autonomy from central control.

Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, UK leadership frontrunner Mr Burnham was asked by the host if Scottish Labour should “run its affairs entirely separate from the party in London”.

He said: “There is a case for that and I will look at that.

“We've had an election that's left the country more divided and fragmented, we've got a prime minister who has stoked the separatist cause in his own interest.

“It used to be the Tory and Unionist party but they're now just playing to English nationalism. If anyone is concerned about the break-up of the UK they need a strong Labour Party going forward and I am the person who can speak to all parts of the UK.”

Mr Burnham added: “I've got huge respect for Jim, he's given his all to the Labour Party, but in Scotland we do now need a clean break, we need a process of listening and learning and rebuilding and I believe in this contest I'm the person best placed to do that.”

Mr Murphy urged Labour to distance itself from ‘'the destructive behaviour'' of Unite boss Len McCluskey in a parting shot ahead of his promised resignation.

The recently ousted East Renfrewshire MP said any UK leader elected with Mr McCluskey's support would carry a political ‘'kiss of death”.

Mr Burnham was asked if his party should break links with the unions.

He told Mr Marr: “Certainly not. I'm proud of those links, I'm proud that ordinary working people will be taking part in this contest.

“People complain about the lack of engagement in politics, I believe the trade union link gives ordinary working people a bigger say, a bigger sense of engagement in politics and that's something to be celebrated.”

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