KEIR Starmer has reportedly lost confidence in Scottish Labour chief Richard Leonard. But with no obvious replacement, the Yorkshireman is set to lead his party to another defeat next May.

According to The Times, Starmer came to the conclusion that his Scottish leader wasn’t up to much cop, after a number of virtual “town hall” meetings with activists and supporters in Scotland.

People who dialled into the gatherings told Starmer that they didn’t know who Leonard was, and also praised Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no animosity borne towards Richard, there is just no confidence in him,” one source familiar with the thinking inside Starmer’s office told The Times.

Leonard’s three years in charge have been a disaster for the party electorally.

Their vote collapsed and they lost six of their seven MPs at the general election in December.

Perhaps more damningly at the last European elections the party slumped to fifth place, with 9.3% of the vote – down from 26% in 2014.

Earlier this week a YouGov poll predicted the party would take just 14% on both the constituency and list at next year’s election.

That’s down from 19% and 23% secured in 2016, under Kezia Dugdale’s leadership.

And the poll revealed that more than one in four of those who did vote Labour last year now say that they will back the SNP.

Chris Curtis, YouGov’s Political Research Manager, said the poll numbers suggested Labour “would continue their trajectory of losing seats at every single election since devolution”.

Just 10% of voters think Leonard is doing well, while 37% believe he’s doing badly, but humiliatingly for the party chief, 53% of the 1142 voters asked if they thought he was doing well at his job responded with “don’t know”.

Writing in the Times, Professor John Curtice said Unionists should be concerned about Leonard.

The National: GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Professor John Curtice photographed for the Herald Scottish referendum supplement at his home on September 06, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. Professor Curtice is currently professor of politics at the University of Strathcly

READ MORE: Kirsty Strickland: How do you solve a problem like Richard Leonard?

The Tories were, he said, “unlikely to be able to save the Union on their own”.

Curitce said that much of the SNP’s boost in support was due to the collapse in Labour support.

He said: “More than one in four of those who voted Labour in last year’s general election now say that they will back the SNP next May. They come from the ranks of those who voted Yes in 2014 but backed Labour last December.

“Persuading voters such as these that they do not need to vote SNP in order to realise their hopes and ambitions for Scotland will be crucial if Nicola Sturgeon is to be denied the majority that would put the Prime Minister on the back foot in his attempt to avoid another poll. The Conservatives are unlikely to win these voters over.

“By contrast, Sir Keir is relatively popular, including among Yes voters. However, his ability to win their votes has not been enhanced by his decision to join Boris Johnson in opposition to another referendum.

“Meanwhile, the party’s Scottish leader, Richard Leonard, still suffers from low electoral visibility. 53% of voters still say they do not know how well or badly he is doing. That should concern Johnson just as much as Sir Keir.”

A “strategic overview” of Scottish Labour by Our Scottish Future, the pro-UK think tank linked to Gordon Brown, has warned that Scottish Labour is in “peril” and claimed the “scarring could be permanent”.

The report, which was circulated to Labour MSPs and leaked to the Daily Record, highlighted a bar chart showing that Leonard’s reach on social media comes nowhere near the levels enjoyed by senior SNP figures.

A spokesman for Starmer said: “This past week Keir Starmer and the Scottish Labour Party have been 100% focused on protecting the education and opportunities of young people.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman urged the party to show unity to hold the Scottish Government to account over education, the economy, workers’ rights and nationalising public services. “Richard Leonard is clear that he will be leading Scottish Labour into next year’s Scottish parliament election on a platform to rebuild Scotland,” he said.

The likeliest replacement for Leonard is Anas Sarwar, though he’s reportedly still “too bruised” from what he saw as endless personal attacks during his 2017 leadership defeat to Leonard.

Jackie Baillie, the party’s current deputy leader “emphatically does not want the job.”