JIM Murphy emphatically won the Scottish Labour leadership contest yesterday and promised to build the "fairest nation on the planet" if he became First Minister.

However, the MP again refused to be drawn on how he will make the move to Holyrood from Westminster.

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He said he would explain his plans for getting to the Scottish Parliament in the "new year".

The six-week contest, triggered by Johann Lamont's resignation, came to an end yesterday with Murphy comfortably ahead of MSP rivals Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack.

The East Renfrewshire MP won 55.77% after the first round of voting, with Findlay second on 34.99% and Boyack trailing on 9.24%.

In Scottish Labour's three-way electoral college - which gives an equal one third vote share to parliamentarians, party members, and affiliated organisations - Murphy won easily in the first two sections.

Left-winger Findlay secured more than 50% of votes from the trade unions and socialist societies but had hoped to win at least 70% in this chunk of the college.

Murphy's high level of support in this section - around 40% - surprised even his own supporters and helped secure a straightforward win.

In the deputy contest, Kezia Dugdale MSP trounced MP Katy Clark by 62.89% to 37.11%.

In accepting his party's leadership, Murphy said his election was a "fresh start for Scottish Labour" and said his aim was to "unite Scotland".

He said the country was divided, not by the way people voted in the independence referendum, but by their "circumstances".

He said he and Dugdale would work to end a Scotland of "two nations" scarred by inequality.

He said: "One, the majority, fulfilled, doing well. Getting by or getting on. The other, a minority, falling behind, denied opportunity. Struggling to escape the hardship of their upbringing."

He added: "This inequality is wrong. And Scottish Labour's mission is to end it."

In a Blairite passage, he called for "more entrepreneurs" and "a growing middle class that more families are joining".

However, just as he did during the contest, Murphy declined to explain his route map to Holyrood.

Asked how he would get to Holyrood, he replied: "My commitment will be to be in the Scottish Parliament by 2016. If we can do it sooner than that I will. I will make that a lot clearer in the new year." On whether he would stand again for Westminster next year, he said: "I will make that a lot clearer in the new year."

Murphy could engineer a Holyrood by-election but party sources fear the current strength of the SNP would mean a highly risky fight that Labour might not win.

Another insider said it was "plausible" for Murphy to stand down from Westminster next year and take a year out of elected politics.

In the 12 months between the Westminster election and the 2016 Holyrood poll, the insider said Murphy could "get round the country" and reconnect with voters.

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday welcomed Murphy's election. He said: "Jim showed in the referendum campaign that he is a fighter. He showed in the leadership campaign that he is a leader. I am going to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Jim in the campaign to get David Cameron out at the general election.

"Together we will show how a Labour government can change the lives of working people in Scotland."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I congratulate Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale on their election as leader and deputy leader of Labour in Scotland. I know that the challenges of leadership are never easy, so I offer my best wishes for the job they have ahead. While we will undoubtedly cross swords often in the months ahead, my door is always open to those who wish to find common ground and work together in the best interests of people in Scotland - something I hope we will have the opportunity to do."

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "I congratulate Jim Murphy on his victory.

"He ran a vigorous campaign for the Labour leadership and I expect a similar level of activity as he tries to distract people in Scotland from the fact his first task is to put Ed Miliband into Downing Street.

"He did a job of work in the referendum campaign, but it will take more than a 100-town tour to persuade people in Scotland to put Ed Miliband in Downing Street."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said: "This will rightly be a proud day for Jim Murphy.

"Having worked with Jim in the House of Commons and in Better Together I am sure we can work together on areas of common interest.

"As a former minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown he has the experience necessary to take on the Leadership of the Scottish Labour Party.

"He will need to draw on that experience to defend Labour's economic record and counter the rise of the nationalist movement. Those tests will likely be the mark of his career."

Pat Rafferty, secretary of the Unite trade union in Scotland, which backed Findlay in the leadership contest, said: "Unite was proud to support Neil and his share of the vote is enough to show his popular policies have resonance among working people in Scotland.

"Arguably, Jim Murphy recognised this appetite for real change during the hustings, because as the campaign progressed his arguments became bolder on issues like taxation and a living wage.

"Jim now needs to turn words into action if he wants to start the process of re-building Scottish Labour."