JIM Murphy has vowed he will not be pushed around by London and will be in sole charge of Labour in Scotland if his leadership bid succeeds.

The Shadow International Development Secretary yesterday insisted he would have sole control over the party machine north of the Border as he announced his ambitions.

He said his powers would extend to hiring and firing of staff, party finances and strategies as he outlined his blueprint.

Dismissing the claim made by ex-leader Johann Lamont that the party in Scotland was just a branch office of Labour's UK HQ, the East Renfrewshire MP said: "The Scottish Labour Party has got itself in a terrible recent habit of losing elections; a sense of a lack of self-confidence, a lack of self-esteem, a lack of direction.

"The electorate know it and feel it ... I love my party and my country but I'm not satisfied with the state either are in and I want to change both."

Speaking ahead of a visit to Glasgow by Labour leader Ed Miliband, Mr Murphy made clear his vision for the Scottish party was "not about taking a blueprint from London and trying to apply it in Scotland" but creating an organisation that took responsibility for its decisions and had "a distinctive Scottish approach".

"Those who know me know I'm big enough and ugly enough not to be pushed around. I have been in politics long enough. I'm going to unite the Scottish Labour Party. I will decide as Scottish Labour leader who we appoint, how we hire, how we fire and all those sorts of big issues.

Asked about the departure of Ian Price as general secretary, which Ms Lamont claimed had happened without her consent, Mr Murphy insisted: "That sort of thing is not going to happen on my watch. If I am the Scottish Labour Party leader, I am in charge."

The 47-year-old stressed that the politics of the House of Commons would always be important to Scotland as part of the UK but with more powers planned for Holyrood "that's where a lot of the action is going to be in the future and that's why I'm making the switch to bring a sense of unity to the Scottish party but much more importantly to try to bring Scotland back together".

While Mr Murphy will be seen by many as the hot favourite to succeed Ms Lamont, there are some within the party who believe he is too much of a Blairite moderniser. Earlier this week, left-winger Ian Davidson, the Glasgow MP, accused his colleague of trying to stage a right-wing coup.

Underlying the point that the frontbencher will face strong opposition, Mike Dyer, a Unite union official who voted Yes in the referendum, described Mr Murphy as "particularly toxic".

"You have to fight the SNP from the left. I don't think a Blairite or a further-to-the-right candidate, whether from Westminster or Holyrood, is the answer," he said.

Neil Findlay, the shadow health minister, is on the left and is expected to win support from many of the trade unions in the party's electoral college. The third candidate, Sarah Boyack MSP, believes she can win over rank-and-file members and acknowledged yesterday there was a "huge challenge" to win over trade union colleagues who had voted Yes.

However, Fife MP and shadow deputy Commons leader Thomas Docherty supports Mr Murphy, whom, he said, had clear appeal to the electorate. He said: "We have a moribund party in Scotland that seems to think in-fighting is more important than campaigning."

His comments came as about 200 pro-independence campaigners staged a demonstration outside the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, where Mr Miliband was the guest of honour at Scottish Labour's annual gala dinner.

He told guests: "We meet here proud that in September we won the battle to keep our country together. And we meet here above all determined to fight to show the Scottish people that Labour can be the change they want to see.