JIM Murphy has entered the race for the Scottish Labour leadership with a pledge to "bring Scotland back together" following the divisive referendum campaign, and make the country fairer and more prosperous.

Breaking a five-day media silence, the Shadow International Development Secretary last night announced: "I'm standing for First Minister of ­Scotland and I intend to win."

He added: "I want to bring Scotland back together after the referendum. There is so much to be proud of in Scotland but so much we have to change. I've travelled to every part of our country and I know that people want us to get on with tackling poverty and increasing prosperity. As leader of Scottish Labour and as First Minister of Scotland that is exactly what I will do."

The 47-year-old MP for East Renfrewshire, who has spent the past few days assembling a campaign team to contest the leadership, will officially launch his candidacy at an event on Saturday. Mr Murphy said he was proud of Labour and Scotland but was not satisfied, making clear it was "time for a fresh start for the Scottish Labour Party".

He stressed how he was "not going to shout at - or about - the SNP" and was intent on talking to and listening to Scotland.

"I want to strike a tone that stops the Scottish Labour Party from committing self-harm," he declared. "I want to unite the Labour Party but more importantly I want to bring the country back together after the referendum."

He becomes the third candidate in the race for the Scottish Labour crown after left-winger Neil Findlay MSP declared his intention to stand earlier yesterday.

The Shadow Scottish Health Minister said: "I want to bring the Labour Party together to work for progressive change and create a fairer, more equal and prosperous Scotland."

He added: "If elected Labour leader, I will put the issue of social justice at heart of everything we do; this is the historic mission of the Scottish Labour Party but it also has to be about what we deliver for the ­Scottish people in this post-referendum period."

Mr Findlay joined fellow Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack in the race to replace Johann Lamont, who resigned last week with a scathing parting shot against her Labour colleagues in London, whom she accused of treating Scotland like a "branch office".

Mr Murphy, who has maintained a media blackout since Ms Lamont's resignation, was said to have been in Edinburgh yesterday, garnering support from MSPs.

Ian Davidson, the MP for Glasgow South, accused him of staging a Blairite "coup", insisting Ms Lamont had been treated shamefully by the frontbencher's allies. In a clear swipe at the East Renfrewshire MP, he added: "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."

However, one Westminster supporter of Mr Murphy insisted: "He is the right man. We need a leader who leads."