LABOUR'S deputy leadership candidate Ian Murray said he is "honoured" after apparent endorsements by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

The party's two former prime ministers have issued supportive statements about Murray's candidacy, with Brown giving his explicit backing and Blair praising Murray's "strong argument".

Blair shared an article written for The Times by the Edinburgh South MP in which he argued Labour must change direction if it is to stand a chance of regaining power.

He accompanied the article with the comment: "Strong argument by @IanMurrayMP that needs to be made – and heard – if Labour is going to once again become a party of government."

Brown followed by announcing that he is supporting Scotland's only Labour MP in his bid to become deputy leader, with comments made to Scientists for Labour in which he remarked that Murray has been "directly involved" in backing scientific investment in the UK.

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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."

Following the comments, Murray said: "I'm honoured to have my analysis, plan and direction for the party endorsed by two former prime ministers.

"I will never trash the record of the last Labour government.

"Tony Blair and Gordon Brown delivered transformational change in our country that lifted millions out of poverty, creating opportunities for people that have since been taken away by the Tories.

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"The only way to get Labour back into power is to change our party once again.

"If members are happy with remaining in opposition and want more of the same, they shouldn't vote for me – they should vote for a continuity candidate.

"I believe we can't just continue with a different voice and a different face; we need to change direction too."

Murray is still battling to make it on to the final ballot paper, needing to gain the support of at least 33 constituency Labour Parties (CLP) or three affiliate groups.

Angela Rayner is currently the only candidate to pass the CLP threshold for the deputy leadership, with Murray on eight nominations, plus the backing of the affiliate Labour Movement for Europe.

Dawn Butler has the support of 14 constituency parties, Richard Burgon also has eight and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has four.