An alleged attempt by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn to strengthen his grip on Labour in Scotland has failed, party insiders have claimed.
The UK leader’s office reportedly tried to block Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South and an ally of Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale, from becoming chairman of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party (SPLP) at Westminster.
A majority of new Scottish Labour MPs returned at June’s snap election are said to have backed Danielle Rowley, MP for Midlothian, to lead the SPLP.
But when senior Labour peers heard of the plan, they arrived en masse at a recent SPLP meeting to ensure Mr Murray succeeded Lord Foulkes as chairman.
A spokesman for Mr Corbyn’s office told The Herald that neither the leader or his staff were involved in the SPLP election and denied there was any plot.
Mr Murray, who was until June the only Labour MP in Scotland, resigned his position as shadow Scottish secretary in 2016 as party of a wider party rebellion against Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
In a tweet posted in March in response to reports that Mr Corbyn was “absolutely fine” with a second referendum on Scottish independence, Mr Murray said: “Often asked why I resigned from the shadow cabinet. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jeremy Corbyn”.
Mr Corbyn last month named a newly-elected MP as shadow Scottish secretary, overlooking Ian Murray after previously saying he would “extend the hand of friendship” to members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who had criticised his leadership.
Lesley Laird was named to Mr Corbyn’s front bench team less than a week after winning the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency.
SNP MSP George Adam said: “Kezia Dugdale’s authority as Labour leader appears to be absolutely shot, needing a staged intervention by unelected Lords able to get her close ally into a key internal position.
“Ms Dugdale was amongst the most vocal critics of Jeremy Corbyn – but her new MPs are no fans of fellow Corbyn critic Ian Murray.
“This division is far more damaging than the cats-in-a-sack infighting that defined Labour for years.”