A NUMBER of Labour MPs believe Johann Lamont should step aside as Scottish leader and make way for Jim Murphy to take the fight to the SNP.

However, they accept party rules make it impossible to ditch Ms Lamont, whom some feel did not do enough in the referendum campaign.

For his part, Mr Murphy, who played a prominent role in the campaign with his 100 towns in 100 days tour, made clear there was "no vacancy" and that his sole focus was on getting Ed Miliband into Downing Street. The East Renfrewshire MP declined to comment further.

But a number of colleagues at Westminster were more willing to comment, albeit privately, saying Ms Lamont's time should be up because of the referendum performance. It is estimated as many as 40 per cent of Labour supporters voted Yes. Heartlands like Glasgow and North Lanarkshire backed independence.

One frontbencher said, given how close Labour, which led the No campaign, came to losing it, that the Scottish leader should step aside. He went on: "The catastrophic thing would be for her to go and not to have Jim as leader. If we end up with an MSP or Anas Sarwar, we might as well all go home for 2016. If we don't choose Jim but someone else, it will be our Ken Clarke moment. It's better to stick with Johann than not to have Jim as leader."

Another MP, asked if Ms Lamont was under threat, admitted: "Yes. People will rally round but the sharks will be circling."

A senior Labour figure insisted that, in the aftermath of the result, he was not aware of any concerted bid to oust Ms Lamont.

But a Labour colleague in the Commons made clear Ms Lamont's future was "the question of the day", noting: "We should have got this sorted on Saturday after the result." He suggested Mr Murphy was the person most Labour politicians now wanted as Scottish leader.

When it was pointed out the Shadow International Development Secretary had made clear he was concentrating on the forthcoming General Election and was not persuadable, the MP replied: "There's persuasion and there's persuasion." But one source close to Ms Lamont accused Mr Murphy of trying to undermine her, saying: "It's a bit rich that those who refused to stand for the job when the party was in its darkest hour now think they are the answer."

During her conference speech, the Glasgow MSP made clear she was going nowhere, telling delegates: "I look forward to working with Ed in No 10 and to lead Scottish Labour to victory in 2016."

When asked if Ms Lamont would be resigning, an aide replied: "No, she's not. She set out plans to lead the party into 2016; that's the plan. She won't be saying anything anytime soon."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Our focus at the moment is uniting Scotland behind the decision to stay in the United Kingdom and returning Labour to power. Our hard-working party members who secured a No vote last week will expect that to be our focus."