KEZIA Dugdale has insisted that she will not quit as Scottish Labour leader even if her party is beaten by the Conservatives at the Holyrood election.

With polls suggesting Labour is currently in a head-to-head battle with Ruth Davidson's Tories to become the official opposition to a dominant SNP in the next parliament, Ms Dugdale said that she wanted to win the election outright but would remain in post if she led her party to a disastrous third-place finish.

It came as reports were published in Sunday newspapers suggesting that some senior figures within the party are unhappy with the current campaign and are preparing to move against Ms Dugdale after May 5. Former MP Anas Sarwar, who will become a Glasgow list MSP, is rumoured to be a potential challenger in a post-election coup.

Read more: Labour leader Kezia Dugdale struggling to keep her head above water

Ms Dugdale, asked if she would resign if her party finished behind the Tories, said: "No. I have said right from the very beginning, the Labour Party's problems didn't happen overnight, they won't be fixed overnight.

"I don't think that [coming third] is going to happen. Even if that were to happen I would absolutely continue in post. I've always said I have a long-term plan to turn around the fortunes of the Scottish Labour Party. I've just started that work."

A source close to Ms Dugdale dismissed claims that there are moves against her within the party as "nonsense", while Mr Sarwar has also denied the reports. The senior insider added: "Anas was campaigning for Kezia in Edinburgh Eastern, where she's standing, just the other day. There's no substance in this whatsoever, Kez won the leadership with a 72 per cent mandate only six months ago."

The Herald:

In an interview with the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland, Ms Dugdale insisted her party's flagship policy of raising income tax to offset cuts to public services is winning support of voters, pointing to opinion polls that have provided evidence of its popularity.

She also retreated further from her claim that she could back Scottish independence if the UK leaves the European Union, which she made in an interview with the Fabian Review in February.

Read more: What Kezia Dugdale needs to do to even attempt to get even

It was leapt on by the Scottish Conservatives as evidence that Labour has gone soft on the union, with Ms Davidson attempting to persuade a broad coalition of referendum No voters to help her party to second place.

Ms Dugdale said she "will always vote No against every scenario", despite previously saying that it was "not inconceivable" that she could back breaking away from the UK in the event of Scotland being dragged out of the EU.

Scottish Labour's manifesto, to be launched on Wednesday just eight days before the polling day, will include a commitment to opposing Trident renewal, although the leader, who previously supported multilateral disarmament, would not say whether she now personally backs the policy.

The Herald:

Ms Dugdale added: "The difference between the SNP, the Tories and Labour is that while they obsess with personality style elections, what you have in the Labour manifesto is a set of policies and platforms that have been brought together in a healthy democratic way."

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: "We now have a Scottish Labour leader who doesn't even agree with parts of her own manifesto. How can Labour hold the SNP to account when they are in such a complete mess?"

Ms Dugdale is today scheduled to visit an Edinburgh chemist and outline her party's pledges to protect the NHS. They will include rolling out universal access to the Minor Ailments Service, which allows patients to register to have minor conditions and illnesses treated in community pharmacies. Labour said 900,000 people are registered for the service, although around half of the Scottish population can’t access it because of limited eligibility criteria.

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The SNP claimed that Labour's Holyrood campaign had "descended into chaos" and had "so far has been characterised by a series of splits, gaffes and policy disasters."

Derek Mackay, the party's business convenor, said: "It's clear that Labour have given up any pretence at being a serious political party - and have simply reverted to type and descended into infighting, speaking to themselves rather than people in Scotland."