RICHARD Leonard’s leadership of Scottish Labour has been “undermined” after a key ally was ousted from a top job on the party’s ruling body.

Veteran left-winger Mary Fee lost her place on the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) after she was challenged for the role by moderate Jackie Baillie.

It’s the latest salvo in the Holyrood party’s increasingly bitter civil war. At a heated meeting of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Group, MSPs voted by 13 to 10 to put Baillie on the SEC as their representative.

Baillie’s move against Fee comes eight months after Leonard sacked her as his economy spokeswoman. She had been told of the decision over the phone just five minutes before it was announced to press in a statement.

Earlier this month, Leonard lost another key ally, when Neil Findlay quit his frontbench post.

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He’d been responsible for the disastrous European election campaign that saw the party slump to fifth place, its worst result since 1910.

Labour secured just 9% of the vote and lost both of its MEPs.

Findlay took to Twitter to express his fury at the SEC shenanigans: “I am absolutely disgusted that @MaryFeeMSP has been removed as Scottish Labour group chair.”

The Campaign for Socialism called it a “pointless and petty distraction from Labour politics designed to undermine Richard Leonard”.

But a moderate Labour source told The Herald : “This was simply about capitalising on Jackie’s expertise as a proven election winner with the Holyrood elections on the horizon and absolutely nothing to do with factionalism.

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“It should have been a smooth transition, but the leadership shamefully insisted on making Mary stand even though they knew she wouldn’t win, allowing Neil Findlay to pick another pointless internal fight.”

Earlier this month, Leonard told the Herald on Sunday that he had “no intention of stepping down” and would lead the party into the next election.

Scottish Labour declined to comment on Baillie’s appointment.