Kezia Dugdale has urged voters to “send a message to the SNP and the Tories” by backing Labour in Thursday’s council elections.
The party leader made her plea in Edinburgh today, 48 hours before polls open and the political make-up of Scotland’s 32 local authorities is decided for the next five years.
Recent polls suggest Labour will lose control of several councils, with both the SNP and Conservatives expected to make gains.
Glasgow, which has returned a Labour administration at every muncipial election since 1980, is among the urban areas where the party is facing a strong challenge from the Nationalists.
Addressing a meeting of activists and candidates, Duglade called for voters to back the party’s “local champions”.
“On Thursday send the Tories a message – tell them that Scotland does not want their austerity,” she said.
“And send Nicola Sturgeon a message as well.
“Tell her to abandon her plan for another divisive referendum and get on with the day job.
“You can protest against the Tories and protest against plans for a second referendum on Thursday with one vote.
“By voting Labour.
“And in return, you’ll get a local champion for your community.
“Someone utterly committed to investing in the public services your family needs and deserves.”
A report by Professor Curtice John Curtice published on Sunday by the Electoral Reform Society predicted the party could struggle at the council elections.
“Labour would appear to be expecting a setback,” Prof Curtice said. “As a result of the sharp reduction in the number of candidates it is fielding, the party can only retain control of Glasgow, West Dunbarton and Renfrew if every single one of the party’s candidates there secures election. And that will only happen if the party actually manages to outperform expectations.”