“We didn’t listen to Dundee,” Scottish Labour leadership frontrunner Jim Murphy told the party’s hustings in the city last night.
The contest to win over the party membership came to Dundee’s Apex Hotel, and leadership contenders Neil Findlay MSP, Sarah Boyack MSP and Jim Murphy MP made their case for election.
Mr Murphy, who is backed by Dundee-based Jenny Marra MSP and Jim McGovern MP, told the room that his welcome was a lot warmer than the last time he was in the city when he was heckled by Yes supporters in the run-up to the referendum.
Mr Murphy told The Courier: “Dundee was an early warning. What happened in Dundee 10 years ago has happened all over Scotland.”
He said the first step to reconnecting to the people of Dundee is listening.
“Part of the winning comes from recognising how far we have fallen. Gordon Brown has a bigger majority than all of our MSPs put together.
“I want to create a Scottish Labour party that is as passionate about eradicating poverty as the SNP are about independence.
“Now that issue has been settled we have time to focus on real life.
“Dundee and Glasgow are the two big cities that voted Yes and we have to understand those voters wanted change.
“The Labour party has to become the party of change.”
The Dundee Labour Party has officially given its backing to Mr Findlay, who said he would continue to fight for the victims of injustice.
He said: “Health and wealth inequality have to be put at the heart of everything we do. One in three children are living in poverty in parts of this city.
“Seven thousand people in this city are on the housing waiting list. That’s why I want to make a national housing building programme a priority.”
Ms Boyack told the gathering: “We have the opportunity to get the leadership we need to take the party back to power.
“We are in the toughest place our party has been in its history. We need to rebuild the party in Scotland.”
Deputy leadership hopefuls Kezia Dugdale MSP and Katy Clark MP also tried to win over support from the party faithful.
Ms Clark said she was delighted to be backed by the Dundee Labour group.
She told The Courier: “Dundee has seen huge industrial decline and large-scale loss of employment from big employers.
“A city like Dundee needs to be given priority because of the social challenges that people face here, problems like drug abuse, poor education attainment.”
Former Harris Academy pupil Kezia Dugdale said she would like to tax the bankers to pay for jobs in Dundee.
She said: “The lesson of the referendum is that people wanted a sense of hope that things can be better than they were at the moment.
“We have two fantastic universities in Dundee. I want a guy from Lochee to be able to walk to the top of the Law and see Dundee and Abertay universities and see no barriers.”