Labour’s shadow chancellor said it would be “completely inappropriate” for the Westminster party to try to oust Scottish leader Richard Leonard.
With recent polling indicating the Scottish National Party (SNP) could be on course for a majority at next year’s Holyrood elections, the Scottish Conservatives replaced their leader, with Douglas Ross succeeding Jackson Carlaw.
Amid claims that the swap was a Downing Street-orchestrated coup, Anneliese Dodds insisted that UK Labour would not interfere in the leadership of Scottish Labour.
Mr Leonard defeated fellow MSP Anas Sarwar to become Scottish Labour leader in 2017, winning 56.7% of the votes.
Asked about disputed reports that the UK Labour party had lost confidence in Mr Leonard, Ms Dodds said: “Richard Leonard was elected three years ago by a significant majority of Labour Party members in Scotland.
“I’ve worked a lot with him since then – I was a shadow treasury minister before I became shadow chancellor and was at a number of events with him over the years – and I think he’s been working very effectively with us.
“I think it would be completely inappropriate for a Westminster-based politician to be dictating to Scottish Labour how they should run any of their affairs.
“Quite rightly it was Scottish Labour members who decided and I’m certainly not going to be at any point saying that that decision instead should be taken by Westminster.
“I think that would be completely inappropriate.”
Ms Dodds, who was in Edinburgh with Mr Leonard visiting the Summerhall Edinburgh Festival venue, added that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was “absolutely determined that we work very, very closely with Scottish Labour”.
When asked in June whether Mr Leonard should be leader going into the Scottish Parliament election, Sir Keir said: “I do think he’s the right man to lead us into those elections.
“I’m working closely with him and the visibility, the impact, the punch the Labour Party has is as much my responsibility as anybody else’s.
“The best way I can do that is by spending time in Scotland, being in Scotland, and I intend to do that as much as I can.”
Sir Keir was speaking after an online question and answer session in which current and former Labour supporters raised concerns about Scottish Labour’s visibility and the “calibre” of candidates and elected representatives.
Douglas, a caller from East Kilbride, said that he and his 92-year-old father had been lifelong Labour voters until the last general election.
Asked by Sir Keir why Labour had lost their votes, he said: “There was nobody there that I could relate to.
“I couldn’t even tell you now who the leader is of the Scottish Labour Party.”