SCOTTISH Labour general secretary Ian Price has been elbowed aside in his party's referendum campaign, party sources have said.

The Sunday Herald has been told that senior organiser Sheila Murphy was brought into the fold amid concerns from senior Labour figures about the party's strategy and effectiveness on the ground.

Price was recruited last year after councillor Colin Smyth stood down from the role.

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He was tasked with putting together an operational strategy for winning elections and delivering a programme of internal reforms.

It was also hoped he could help unite a party known for its fractious relations between MSPs, MPs, councillors and trade unions.

However, although Labour has won by-elections on Price's watch, some elected representatives have been unimpressed with him and think he has had a slow start.

They believed more experienced organisers were required to fight the SNP and push through organsational change.

The Sunday Herald understands there was a shake up of Labour's campaigning strategy in the spring.

Murphy, the former regional director of Labour North West, arrived at party headquarters to work on Labour's distinct referendum campaign.

The veteran organiser is a respected figure in the party and is believed to have sharpened up Labour's campaigning machine.

Renowned party fixer Frank Roy MP joined the pro-UK campaign group Better Together in April in a "political co-ordination" role, a job one source described as "Labour's eyes and ears" in the body.

Senior party figures said Murphy's arrival did not reflect well on Price.

One insider said: "Ian Price came with a good reputation, but it's recognised he's not been great at some aspects of the job. Sheila Murphy was brought in to shore up Scottish Labour, while Frank Roy was also introduced to ensure we get the right result in September."

Another Labour source said: "Sheila was brought in because people were worried about the Labour campaign."

Price, who used to be head of public affairs at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland (RSPB), has the support of Scottish leader Johann Lamont.

However, Lamont is the subject of speculation about her own future.

Senior party figures believe Lamont, who reluctantly stood for the leadership in 2011, is unlikely to be in charge by the time of the next election.

Potential candidates in any contest include deputy leader Anas Sarwar, East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale MSP, a favourite of Lamont's allies.

An SNP spokesman said: "The leadership and key politicians in the Labour Party in Scotland are fighting like ferrets in a sack.

"It is little wonder that more and more Labour voters recognise Scotland would be a fairer country with a Yes vote which offers the chance for a rejuvenated Labour, free to make its own decisions and no longer needing to dance to a Tory Westminster tune."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Our General Secretary Ian Price is playing a pivotal role at the centre of Scottish Labour's campaign - a campaign which is going from strength to strength and stretching our lead over the nationalists."