LABOUR'S deputy environment spokeswoman Elaine Murray has dropped out of the race for the deputy leadership of the party in Scotland because she failed to gain enough nominations.

The threshold for candidates was 10 backers from parliamentarians, including one from a parliament other than their own.

Dr Murray, the MSP for Dumfriesshire, has the biggest majority of any Labour MSP and increased it at three Holyrood elections.

She said she could have got enough backing but withdrew because it was clear the deputy leader would come from Westminster.

An MP and two MSPs will contest the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party – a new post which goes beyond Iain Gray’s current status as leader at Holyrood. They are Tom Harris, Johann Lamont and Ken Macintosh.

The deputy leadership will be fought by two Westminster MPs, Ian Davidson and Anas Sarwar, and MSP Lewis Macdonald, meaning there will only be one woman in contention for the two posts.

The official hustings period starts later this month with final result being announced on December 17.

Eastwood MSP Mr Macintosh was first to have his leadership campaign launch last week. On Thursday Glasgow South MP Mr Harris said he was best placed to take on Alex Salmond. Mr Lamont’s campaign launch will be in Stirling on Monday.