Robbie Dinwoodie: "Why does Labour need a complex contest?"

A former Scottish Labour minister was "wrong" when he criticised the attitude of some Westminster politicians to Holyrood, one of the party's MPs said today.

Former finance minister Tom McCabe yesterday hit out at the "arrogance" of some politicians at Westminster.

However John Robertson, the secretary of the Scottish Labour group at Westminster, insisted the relationship between the party's MPs and MSPs had "never been better".

He spoke out after Mr McCabe had called for the next Scottish Labour leader to have "complete control" of the party north of the border.

Mr McCabe said: "For too long, there have been Scottish Labour politicians at local government level and at Westminster who have been resentful, and even contemptuous, of the Scottish Parliament.

"That behaviour needs to stop now."

But Mr Robertson told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland: "Tom is out of the loop at the moment unfortunately.

"He's a very able man, but perhaps he doesn't know what's been going on behind the scenes."

Mr Robertson said that the party's Scottish MPs met regularly with MSPs and councillors.

And while he accepted that there were sometimes disagreements, he added: "Usually we discuss these things behind closed doors and we don't try to put our dirt washing out to hang.

"But in this case I think Tom's got it wrong, I don't believe we have a problem between MPs and MSPs. In fact the relationship between the two of us has never been better."

The row comes as three candidates, Iain Gray, Cathy Jamieson and Andy Kerr, are vying to become the new leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

In response for Mr McCabe's call for the new leader to have more power, Mr Robertson said: "We didn't have this argument about whether Gordon Brown was the leader of the party in the UK Parliament and not the leader of the whole party in the UK.

"We've got a leader, it's Gordon Brown and until such time as he is removed he will remain the leader."

However the Glasgow North West MP said Labour had a problem communicating its message to voters, but also sometimes had difficulties establishing what its message was.

He said: "Our problem is getting our message out, and also the problem is sometimes what is the message.

"One thing I do agree with Tom is we have to sit down and thrash out exactly where we're going and what our message is and what we are trying to take to the people, because at the end of the day whether we like it or not the only people we have to satisfy are the ones that vote."