A SENIOR Scottish Labour MP has accused Jim Murphy of staging a "coup" to take control of the party.

In a scathing attack, veteran Glasgow South MP Ian Davidson said Johann Lamont, who quit as leader last Friday, had been treated shamefully by the shadow international development secretary's allies, who conducted a whispering campaign against her.

He did not name Mr Murphy, but in a bid to derail his leadership ambitions, Mr Davidson said it would be "absurd" for Labour to elect a Scottish party leader who had never previously considered a role at Holyrood.

Mr Davidson spoke out as Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour's former transport minister, announced she was standing for the top job while sources confirmed Mr Murphy's intention to throw his hat in the ring, probably before the end of the week.

Meanwhile, friends of Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour's highly rated education spokeswoman, said she was keen to stand for deputy leader if a vacancy arose.

Mr Davidson said: "We are in the middle of a coup.

"It's not Star Wars: Return of the Sith but it's certainly the return of the Blairites and the Network."

He said the Network, a faction of Labour figures on the right of the party in the late 1990s, had always resented Ms Lamont's election as leader in 2011.

He added: "There is an extent to which she has been treated as a wee lassie.

"Because they could not pull her strings, they ignored her and went around her."

In a clear attack on the East Renfrewshire MP he said: "I don't think we can have an MP as leader who has not expressed a previous interest in standing for Holyrood, but only wants to go in as leader."

Mr Davidson, seen as cautious about devolution in the past, also said Scottish Labour should choose the next Secretary of State for Scotland if Ed Miliband wins the UK General Election next May.