BELEAGURED Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has been mocked over a “catastrophic” TV interview where he said Labour would block a second Scottish independence referendum.

He also dodged questions on why a Scottish Labour Party member accused of anti-Semitism had been readmitted to the party.

The interview came hours after a top union official in Scotland launched an unprecedented attack on Leonard’s leadership.

On the Sunday Politics show Leonard was grilled on whether Labour would block any attempt by a Scottish Government to hold a second independence referendum.

He said Labour’s election manifesto would rule out a referendum but would not answer repeated questions over whether that would mean a Labour Government would refuse to give a Section 30 order for a referendum – even if the SNP again gained control of the Scottish Parliament with a manifesto pledge for one.

Interviewer Gordon Brewer pointed out that if the SNP won the next Scottish Parliament elections on a manifesto promising another referendum and Labour refused it would be “undemocratic” but Leonard said the situation would not arise as Labour would gain control of the Scottish Parliament.

As the argument moved round in circles with Leonard parroting the same sentences over and over again, Brewer gave up and moved on to allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

Previously GMB Scotland chief Gary Smith said Leonard should have been “far more forthright about the problem earlier”.

He said he had written to Leonard complaining about the “bewildering” decision to readmit Renfrewshire councillor Jim Sheridan, who had been suspended over alleged anti-Semitism, but had heard nothing back. Sheridan, a former Labour MP, was suspended last year after saying he had lost “respect and empathy” for the Jewish community amid the anti-Semitism row within the Labour Party. Since being readmitted, Sheridan has dismissed his accusers of being “misguided” saying they had “overreacted”.

Asked by Brewer why he had taken a back seat over the controversy, Leonard said he could not get involved in internal party discipline.

Brewer said Sheridan’s comments had been “dreadful” and asked why Leonard hadn’t done something about it.

“Why not say ‘I don’t want this man in my party – I want to demonstrate to Jewish people in Scotland that the Labour Party is home for them’?” Brewer asked.

Leonard replied that he could not get involved in one case.

An SNP spokesperson said afterwards: “This was a catastrophic interview which confirms that, with Richard Leonard at the helm, Scottish Labour are sailing further into political irrelevance.

“On the biggest political issue of the day, Scottish Labour are completely at odds with the vast majority of Scottish voters, who oppose the Tories’ Brexit plans, which would be devastating for Scotland.

“On independence, Leonard was all over the place – and Labour’s refusal to accept that the people of Scotland have the right to choose their own future will simply condemn them to further election defeat.”

Maurice Golden, Scottish Conservative chief whip, said Leonard’s comments showed that he would “sit in the back seat” and do what he was told by London.

“It is clear today that Nicola Sturgeon is planning a coalition with Corbyn and will demand a second independence referendum as her price,” said Golden.

“It is also quite clear that Richard Leonard’s role in all this will be to sit in the back seat and do what he’s told.

“Mr Leonard isn’t prepared to take the fight to Sturgeon. He hasn’t got a plan to stop a second referendum.”