KEZIA Dugdale comfortably secured the Scottish Labour leadership yesterday, but she immediately faces challenges over Holyrood re-selections and the election of a left-wing deputy she did not want to win.

The Lothians MSP, who became her party’s eighth leader north of the border since 1999, signalled a cull of her Holyrood colleagues by promising “new people” in the Labour group. Senior party figures were also pointing the finger at each other last night after MSP Alex Rowley beat Dugdale’s favoured contender to be her number two.

The leadership result, announced at Stirling University, confirmed an easy victory for Dugdale over fellow MSP Ken Macintosh.

She won over 72 per cent of the vote on a turnout of “around” 60 per cent, which included 15,000 party members and 6,000 affiliated and registered supporters.

The two-month contest was not marked by the sort of ideological tussle convulsing the UK party, but the battle to succeed Jim Murphy was characterised by supporters’ sniping.

Dugdale’s allies were irked by Macintosh’s regular references to his family, while Macintosh’s backers claimed his rival’s focus on a “new generation” had a whiff of ageism.

Although the pair were barely on speaking terms by the end of the contest, Dugdale offered kind words in her victory speech to Macintosh, who also failed to win the leadership in 2011. “Many people have said that this campaign hasn’t caught the imagination in the same way as the UK contest,” said Dugdale. “Part of the reason for that is probably because Ken and I are good friends. I ran his campaign in 2011, so I wear it as a badge of honour that we were able to set out our own case without tearing strips off one another.”

She also said her party, which lost all but one of its Scottish MPs in May, would make a comeback: “We are down, but we are not out.”

However, the result of the deputy contest – in which Rowley beat MSP Richard Baker and Glasgow council leader Gordon Matheson – was causing alarm last night amongst Dugdale’s supporters. Rowley has backed an “autonomous” Scottish party “free from the constraints” of UK Labour – a position opposed by Dugdale.

Her supporters also fear Rowley may encourage Scottish Labour to back the political strategy of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing MP who looks set to become UK leader.

Senior party figures wanted one candidate to face up to Rowley, but Dugdale’s supporters backed Baker and Glasgow-based powerbrokers insisted on Matheson.

It is also believed the Baker and Matheson teams failed to negotiate a second vote strategy, whereby their supporters would give their second preferences to each other.

In the end, Baker and Matheson cancelled each other out and Rowley won comfortably.

A Matheson backer said: “Foolishly, Kez’s team privately pushed Baker despite him having no chance.”

Another insider said: “Rowley will be a nightmare. Kez will have to watch him.”

If Corbyn wins next month, allies of Dugdale also fear the party’s resurgent Left could use Labour’s expected defeat at the Holyrood election next year to undermine her leadership. Another test will be the rules Scottish Labour sets for the internal list rankings selection for Holyrood.

The party is expected to lose all its first-past-the-seats to the SNP and win between 25 and 30 seats on the regional lists.

Dugdale’s supporters believe up to half of the party’s 39 MSPs are of poor quality and need to be culled.

One idea being mulled over is to re-interview potential List candidates, including incumbents, with a view to weeding out the deadwood.

Asked yesterday if she would have to make some difficult decisions on selections, Dugdale said: “What I’m going to do is to go out and seek new people to stand for the Scottish Labour Party. I have been very frank about that in the contest.”

Asked whether she believed some of her Holyrood colleagues were not good enough to be Labour MSPs, she said: “I’m not in the business of speaking ill of any my colleagues, but what we will have is a democratic process where party members across the country can decide who they want to be their representatives next year.

“I’ve been very clear I want to bring in new talent, new people to the Scottish party, and I’ll be encouraging them to stand next year. I will say more about that in the weeks ahead.”

Another challenge for the new leader will be ensuring the party staff work as a unified team, rather than as representatives of different factions. Scottish Labour headquarters has been in Glasgow for decades – which, in recent years, has sparked turf wars with the MSP group in Edinburgh – but Dugdale said during the campaign that the Capital would be the party’s main base.

Meanwhile, Matheson is expected to announce his resignation as council leader later this week following his defeat. Potential successors include councillors Stephen Curran, Malcolm Cunning, Archie Graham and one-time leader Frank McAveety.

Glasgow City Council SNP Group Leader Susan Aitken said: “Gordon Matheson must now name the date when he will stand down as Leader of Glasgow City Council and it must be sooner rather than later. He ran an energetic campaign to be Deputy Leader of his party, but it was entirely predicated on him wanting to get out of the council.

“He cannot, in all conscience, attempt to continue as Leader of Scotland’s biggest city when he has made it so abundantly clear he’d rather not be here. His credibility was already badly damaged following the SNP’s stunning by-election victories in the city just over a week ago; it is now completely non-existent.