Broaden leadership debate or Labour will lose, deputy hopeful Ian Murray warns

Labour deputy leadership candidate Ian Murray has said the party must "pull its head out of the sand" and broaden the debate about its future if it ever wants to form a government.

Mr Murray, who hasn't yet made it through to the next round of the contest, said the party deserved a race that wasn't just between "continuity candidates who believe one more heave will get us over the line".

It came as the party's only remaining Scottish MP received the endorsement of two former Labour Prime Ministers – Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

Mr Murray, who was a critic of Mr Corbyn's leadership, told the Mirror: "At the moment it looks like the choice could be between continuity and continuity with the deputy leadership race.

"But if we're talking about being a democratic party then we need to be in a position where the contest represents the arguments about how we can win again.

"I thin to win we need to listen to the people who've rejected us over the last decade, we need to accept that we've ignored what people want from us and look to our successful past to learn how to win again.

"And if that argument isn't in the contest then we will be poorer for it."

Rivals Angela Rayner and Richard Burgon – both seen as incredibly loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and his vision of the party – have made it through to the final round of the contest with endorsements from unions and socialist societies.

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Despite this Ms Rayner has racked up 64 Constituency Labour Parties (CLP) endorsements.

The effect of this Mr Murray argued is to leave the contest as a choice between two candidates with a similar analysis of why Labour was comprehensively rejected at the ballot box in December.

Mr Murray has the backing of the Labour Movement for Europe, but without support from two more unions, he will need to rely on 33 CLPs to put him on the ballot.

So far he had received eight CLP nominations, compared to Dawn Butler on 14, Richard Burgon on eight and Rosena Allin-Khan on four.

Gordon Brown announced his endorsement of the Edinburgh South MP in comments to Scientists for Labour, a group affiliated to the party and of which he is patron.

Mr Brown said: "I know Ian Murray to have been committed to and directly involved in supporting investment in science in our country, not least because of his association with Edinburgh University and in particular its science campus at King’s Buildings.

"I think that as a candidate whom I support for the deputy leadership he can ensure that the next Labour manifesto will give the priority to science and innovation that scientists deserve and is the best way forward for our country."

His comments emerged after Tony Blair also appeared to endorse Mr Murray's campaign.

Sharing an article the Edinburgh South MP wrote for the Times Red Box, the Tony Blair Institute tweeted: "'We can’t just continue with a different voice and a different face; we need to change direction too.' Strong argument by @IanMurrayMP that needs to be made – and heard – if Labour is going to once again become a party of government."

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