The runners and riders in the race to become the new general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party have been unveiled as a senior party organiser, a conservation campaigner, a former MSP and the son of an MP.

The quartet will be interviewed for the internal post in the New Year as Labour looks ahead to the independence referendum and the next Holyrood election.

The vacancy was created earlier this year when Colin Smyth stood down from the job amid claims of a turf war.

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Smyth's successor will be responsible for turning Scottish Labour into an election-winning machine, by working with party leader Johann Lamont to overhaul organisation, fundraising and recruitment strategies. The closing date for applications was December 14 and four "well-kent" faces in the party are in the running.

One of those is acting general secretary Brian Roy, who also has experience of working as an official at Labour's headquarters in Glasgow.

Roy's father Frank is the party MP for Motherwell and Wishaw.

Another contender is Ian Price, who is head of public affairs and marketing for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland.

Price has held this position for five years, before which he worked for global PR firm Fleishman-Hillard.

His Labour credentials include a two-year spell working as Scottish Labour's north-east organiser and a stint working in the office of MP Anne Begg.

The third individual being tipped is Fiona Stanton, presently the regional director of Labour North in England.

Former MSP David Whitton, who lost his Strathkelvin and Bearsden seat at the 2011 Holyrood election, is the other contender.

A journalist for more than two decades, Whitton also worked as a special adviser to the late Labour First Minister Donald Dewar.

Previous general secretaries such as Jack McConnell and Lesley Quinn have run the party through strength of personality.

A senior party source said the hopefuls were all "solid", but noted that only Whitton had a high profile.

There also appears to be uncertainty over the salary for the post.

It is believed a starting salary of £44,000 was initially mooted, but that figure has been denied by the party.

The total remuneration paid to Peter Murrell, the chief executive of the SNP, was £109,492 in 2011-12.

It was also revealed recently that the new Scottish general secretary will still be formally accountable to the party's top UK official, Iain McNicol, who holds the post of UK general secretary.

Whoever gets the job will also be employed by the UK Party.

The appointment of a new Scottish general secretary is viewed as an opportunity for Lamont to reform Scottish Labour.

Following a full-scale review last year, party bosses have backed changes to constituency boundaries and candidate selections.

However, one party source said these changes came from a review that pre-dated Lamont's leadership. The source added that the leader had yet to come up with far-reaching internal reforms of her own.

It is understood the review considered creating a post of chief executive, who would work with the general secretary, but this idea never made it into the final report.

SNP MSP Aileen McLeod said: "Labour might be better recruiting a mediator to settle the infighting and score-settling which has beset the party.

"Between Labour's internal battles, their alliance with the Tories and Johann Lamont's plans to cut the social benefits delivered by devolution, any new general secretary will have their work cut out."

A Labour spokesperson said: "The new general secretary will be a key appointment in rebuilding the Scottish Labour party. We look forward to making an appointment in the New Year."