Scottish Labour deputy leadership candidate Jackie Baillie has said the party is fighting for survival in next year’s election.
The Dumbarton MSP, speaking ahead of a campaign event in Glasgow on Friday, said the party would have to change if it is to make gains in the Holyrood vote and be in a position to challenge the SNP’s “arrogance in power”.
Ms Baillie also appeared to take a swipe at her rival in the contest, Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr, saying “more of the same won’t do”.
The former cabinet minister – who entered the Scottish Parliament when it opened in 1999 – was ousted by leader Richard Leonard from the economy brief before he took on the role himself.
Ms Baillie said: “This is more than just a choice about who will join Richard Leonard as part of the leadership team, it is about the future direction of Scottish Labour.
“It is the choice between continuity and change – more of the same won’t do.
“My message to members is that we can, and must, do better.
“This isn’t a debate about what kind of future we have – but about whether we have a future at all.”
She added: “We are fighting for our very survival at the next Scottish Parliament election and we owe it to our party members and to the people of Scotland to get our act together.
“We can’t hope to expose the SNP’s policy failings and arrogance in power unless we introduce the change within our party that will get us on the road to recovery.
“As deputy leader my focus will be on campaigning and organising, working with our members and trade unions to build networks and coalitions of voters in every community, which is how I have won in Dumbarton.
“By bringing together the leadership team and the grass roots members who are crying out for change, Scottish Labour’s fightback can begin.”
Scottish Labour slumped to third in the last Holyrood election, with the Conservatives becoming the official opposition.
Labour lost all but one of its MPs in Scotland in December’s general election.