A LABOUR MSP has slammed a “poisonous” culture among his party in Holyrood and hit out at the “hard Unionist” agenda he believes they will implement after Richard Leonard’s resignation.

Leonard, a former trade unionist for the Scottish Trades Union Congress and GMB Scotland, is seen as on the left of the party.

As Scottish Labour leader Leonard oversaw a series of poor election and polling results. Last year he avoided being ousted after a motion of no confidence in him was withdrawn at a meeting of the party’s Scottish Executive Committee.

READ MORE: Was it 'sneering traitors' or defiance of Starmer on Brexit that made Leonard quit?

Four of his own MSPs had called on him publicly to go – since then a group of Labour grandees and anonymous former ministers have done the same.

According to reports his resignation followed a meeting on Wednesday at which UK Labour leader Keir Starmer made his views clear.

The National:

The Zoom conference call involved Leonard’s deputy Jackie Baillie, as well as potential donors, who are understood to have said they would not back Labour while Leonard stayed in his post.

When news of Leonard’s resignation emerged Neil Findlay commented: “Looks like those who have led a three year campaign of briefings to journalists, leaks of private conversations and the constant feeding of stories to the media to bring down a decent and honest man have succeeded.

“These flinching cowards and sneering traitors make me sick.”

In an interview with the Morning Star, Leonard’s resignation was compared to attempts to oust Corbyn as leader during his time in the post.

READ MORE: Grassroots anger at deal that guarantees Richard Leonard Holyrood seat

“It .. reflects the determination of Labour rightwingers to stop the party promoting a positive socialist vision for change,” the journalist wrote.

Findlay criticised those who had not denied or distanced themselves from suggestions Starmer was involved in getting rid of Leonard.

“People whose mantra when Corbyn was leader was that Scottish Labour was autonomous — ‘don’t you dare come up and stamp on our autonomy’ — and who came down like a ton of bricks on Corbyn or John McDonnell if they came to Scotland and said anything on Scottish issues.

“These same people have absolutely nothing to say on the intervention of the UK leader prompting the Scottish leader to resign.”

Findlay, an MSP for the Lothain region, described a “poisonous” culture in the Labour group who don’t want left-wingers in the party.

The National:

He stressed concern over failures to understand the people of Scotland on the right of Scottish Labour.

Referencing Labour’s increased Scottish seats at the 2017 election, he explained: “Polling showed that the people who Labour won back in Scotland in 2017 were working-class voters, many who had voted Yes to independence in the 2014 referendum, who got excited by the Corbyn project and the Corbyn manifesto”

He added: “Yet the strategy under Kezia Dugdale , which is the strategy of Leonard’s attackers too, is to target voters who have gone to the Tories with a hard Unionist agenda that says no to any referendum, no to any further devolution.”

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With that strategy, he argued, the majority of the electorate who support independence will continue voting SNP.

Starmer has made clear he does not support Scottish independence and has refused to give his backing to a new referendum.

However, he disagrees with Boris Johnson’s claim that it should be 45 years until a new ballot on the issue is held.

"I don't think there should be another referendum,” he said. “I don't think another divisive referendum is the right way forward. But I do accept the status quo isn't working.”

Last month Labour set out plans for a constitutional commission to spread “power, wealth and opportunity” out of Westminster, to be advised by Gordon Brown.