SCOTTISH Labour has announced a shake-up of its communications team, claiming the move is part of Jim Murphy's efforts to build a "strong team" ahead of the General Election.


Former Labour councillor Susan Dalgety, who was Jack McConnell's chief press officer during his time as First Minister, has been appointed as communications director.

Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall has been named director of policy.

Feminist campaigner Talat Yaqoob has also been given the role of campaigns researcher and the party's new director of external engagement has been named as digital communications specialist Gregor Poynton.

A party spokesman said: "Jim Murphy is building a strong team behind him for the upcoming General Election and to take the party forward to the Scottish Parliament election in 2016. These appointments are a key part of this.

"All have experience of working at the highest level, and each have talents that will serve the Scottish Labour Party well. The appointments show just how serious Jim Murphy is about making a fresh start and getting Scottish Labour back to winning ways."

However, two of the new recruits, Ms Dalgety and Mr Poynton, have been embroiled in controversy in the past.

Ms Dalgety has previously compared the SNP to the Omagh bombers and described them as oddballs, extremists and out-and-out racists.

Mr Poynton, a former associate director at Portland Communications, was linked with the Falkirk vote rigging scandal after it emerged he was in the running to stand as a Labour candidate and paid for 11 members to join the party with a single cheque.

Two members said their joining fees were paid for by Poynton or members of his family in the expectation they would vote for him at a selection meeting.

However, he claimed that he did not recruit the members in order that they should vote for him and is sure that they all repaid their membership fees in cash.