A FORMER Labour minister has launched a withering attack on his "arrogant" Westminster colleagues whom he accuses of being "resentful and contemptuous" of the Scottish parliament.

Tom McCabe, a one-time finance minister who ran Wendy Alexander's campaign to become Labour leader last year, warns his party will be "pushed to the fringes" for "a very long time" if it does not radically reform itself.

In an exclusive article in today's Sunday Herald, McCabe says Scottish Labour needs to give its new leader "complete control" of the party, back greater financial powers for Holyrood and support the abolition of the council tax.

By contrast, he said the SNP had "looked and sounded like a party on the side of change" since last year's parliament election victory.

Labour on both sides of the Border are in a period of turmoil following a series of disastrous election results in Scotland, London and other parts of the UK.

The Scottish party is in crisis after losing last year's Scottish poll and former leader Wendy Alexander in a donations scandal.

Scottish Labour's dire predicament has prompted McCabe, who refused to stand for the vacant leader's post despite being asked by a number of senior party figures, to launch a broadside against his party's current state.

He said of his colleagues at Westminster: "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 if we are to have any chance of regaining ground."

He accused Scottish MPs of "not a little arrogance" and said of the recent by-election: "If Shettleston doesn't make Scottish Labour politicians north and south of the Border realise that the Scottish political landscape has changed significantly they could be pushed to the fringes of that new landscape for a very long time."

He said the SNP were able to make strategic decisions without any constraints, something that was not true of his party at Holyrood. "Labour on the other hand has to deal with all those who have failed to grasp the political consequences of devolution," he wrote.

"The result for Labour in Scotland is all too often in the obscure language of prevarication that the public can see right through.'' He said the new leader had "to do what is best for Scots no matter who it might upset", as well as backing new financial powers for Scotland: "A leader who wants to have responsibility for raising the money their government spends and be chastened by that accountability in the process."

McCabe also urged Alexander's successor to accept that the council tax is an "unfair burden" and back "a firm timetable for abolition".

He said Scottish Labour's plan last year to reform council tax was a "pointless fudge" presented as "a radical change".

On the Nationalists, he said: "In May 2007 and since, the SNP looked and sounded like a party on the side of change while Labour looked and sounded like a party on the side of the way things had always been."

He added: "Yes, the SNP have broken promises but they have delivered on enough to keep people believing that they are in pursuit of change."

McCabe has declined to support any of the three candidates running for the post of Labour's Holyrood leader.

Former first minister Henry McLeish said: "I welcome Tom McCabe's comments. For far too long, MPs and councillors have been uncomfortable with devolution. Labour must establish its Scottish credentials, be tireless in its defence of interests and stop looking over its shoulder to Westminster. This may be the last chance for Labour. Time is running out."

John Robertson MP, secretary of the Scottish Labour group at Westminster, said: "This sounds like Tom is looking to position himself for a job. I am disappointed in him. I thought he was much more of a comrade than that, but he obviously isn't."