ALEX Rowley will continue his fight for a more autonomous Scottish Labour in his new role as deputy leader of the party north of the Border.

Rowley, who is to become a minister without portfolio in Kezia Dugdale’s front bench team, believes shaking off the perception of the party in Scotland being ‘‘branch office’’ of the UK Labour Party is necessary after its disastrous General Election.

That would mean the party’s MP Ian Murray and any future MPs would take direction from north of the Border, even if this contradicted stances taken on those issues at the UK level.

Launching his deputy leadership campaign message in The National in June, Rowley said: “We must build a radical and progressive movement for change in Scotland that embraces devolutions, progresses localism and delivers fairness.

“We must also encourage open debate and discussion, whether that is the renewal of Trident, the role of the welfare state and how to build a fairer more equal society.

“Labour in Scotland must reflect the views of members and the communities we seek to serve and we will do that by engaging in an open and transparent approach rebuilding the trust that once made Labour the workers’ party and put us at the heart of every community.”

Last night a source close to Rowley said in his new role he would be pushing for a more autonomous Scottish party.

“He very much believes that policy for Scotland has to come from Scotland and the party needs to be completely run by the leadership in Scotland,” the source said.

“In terms of MPs, he is very much of the view that they should be taking their direction from the party in Scotland.

“It might take time, but he knows that is the direction the party has to move in and there is no going back from that.”

He added: “The branch office label will not be acceptable anymore.

“Alex will be saying ‘yes, we are united with our Labour comrades across the UK, but if the party members in Scotland are thinking a certain way that is the approach MSPs and MPs should take’.”

Rowley, MSP for Cowdenbeath and a former aide to ex-prime minister Gordon Brown, defeated fellow MSP Richard Baker and Glasgow city council leader Gordon Matheson to win the deputy leadership race on Saturday, while Dugdale beat Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh to become leader.

The contest followed former leader Jim Murphy’s resignation in June, following the loss of 40 of the party’s 41 MPs at the General Election.

Rowley quit Murphy’s front-bench team in protest at the leader continuing in his post for several weeks after the defeat.

Murphy’s predecessor Johann Lamont resigned following last September’s referendum, accusing her London bosses of treating the party in Scotland like a “branch office”.

“Some were rather annoyed about Johann Lamont’s comment last year about UK party leadership treating Scottish Labour as the branch office. I have heard many say this is not a description they recognise,” Rowley told The National in June.

“However, I recognise it and believe it must be addressed in order for Labour in Scotland to move forward with a more progressive approach.

“We need to become the party of Scottish home rule and our opening salvo to Westminster and the UK Labour Party must be that the current relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK is untenable and will require radical change.”