JIM Murphy yesterday quit as Scottish Labour leader after winning approval for reforms to his beleaguered party.

Declaring that his future lay outside politics, the former MP secured backing for electing his successor by one-person-one-vote (OPOV), exploring US-style primaries, and revamping selection procedures to get rid of deadwood MSPs.

However, the ex-leader backed away from endorsing an independent Labour party north of the border and stepped up his attacks on his predecessor Johann Lamont and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

He also ruled out accepting a place in the House of Lords.

Murphy announced his decision to quit as Scottish Labour leader in May after the party lost 39 of its 40 seats - including his own - at the general election.

He said he would formally quit his post after the party's Executive considered proposals for far-reaching internal reform.

Murphy had been in post for around six months.

The Executive, which met in Glasgow yesterday, endorsed OPOV for the election of Murphy's successor, who will be one of two MSPs: Kezia Dugdale, or Ken Macintosh.

The OPOV system, which gives every voter an equal say, replaces a complicated electoral college that disproportionately favoured parliamentarians.

In a highly significant move, the Executive also backed the abolition of 'protected places' for List MSPs, which currently reserves the top spots on regional Lists for existing members.

The status quo was deemed by critics to protect time-serving MSPs whose contribution at Holyrood was poor.

Any party member can now attempt to get first place on the regional Lists.

However, the party also agreed to parachute in the new leader and deputy leader to the top spots of whichever List they stand on.

Several party sources told this newspaper that ending protected places, while a long-overdue measure, would result in a prolonged period of blood-letting amongst MSPs fearful of losing their seats.

Murphy said of this reform yesterday: "Our current rules are unfair and have operated a type of closed shop where sitting MSPs are protected at the top of the list, and where their election doesn't come on polling day, but on internal selection day."

The Executive also agreed to consider primaries for future Westminster candidate selections and open up the deputy leadership to councillors, as well as MPs and MSPs.

Two MSPs were being tipped last night as possible contenders: Jackie Baillie and Alex Rowley.

Speaking to the media after the Executive meeting, Murphy declined to support an independent Scottish Labour party, an idea supported by an increasing number of senior figures.

He said: "Scottish Labour last year campaigned to remain part of that sense of politics of social solidarity. Having campaigned to stay within the United Kingdom, I think it makes sense, just a few short months later, to retain those links with the Labour party.

"Breaking away from the rest of the United Kingdom Labour party - that loses one of our key strengths. That old fashioned idea: unity is strength."

In explaining his reform agenda, Murphy again criticised Lamont for what he regarded as her sluggish approach to changing the party.

"I didn't want to do what had happened in the past - when a leader departed and left the party in crisis, without doing the hard work to help set the organisation on a path back to recovery."

A senior party source hit back: "I think Johann will be remembered for helping win a referendum, local authority elections and Holyrood by-elections. That's what leadership is about and why she lasted more than six months."

On McCluskey, who blamed Murphy for the overall general election defeat across the UK, he said: "My criticism is of the boss politics of the Unite leadership, not of the authentic politics of the hard working members of Unite.

"We shouldn't allow the actions of an elite at the top of Unite to sully the cause and significance of that noble principle of trade unionism."

Murphy also said his future would be "something else" other than politics, which he would reveal at a later date.

Asked if he would rule out entering the House of Lords, he said: "My political career is behind me."

He clarified his answer by saying he would not go to the Upper chamber.

A blog by Revitalise Scottish Labour, written by senior members with close links to the Executive, backed many of the reforms, but warned they were no substitute for political ideas: "The mechanisms debated today are of course important, but there is an element of moving the deck chairs on the Titanic about this debate. Scottish Labour's primary challenge is political not structural."