Scottish Labour’s deputy leader has quit after losing her seat in the general election.

Lesley Laird secured the role unopposed in May 2018 after the previous holder, MSP Alex Rowley, resigned over allegations about his private life.

Ms Laird, who won the Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath seat by just 259 votes in 2017, lost on Thursday despite her SNP challenger being suspended by the party over anti-Semitism.

Neale Hanvey, who apologised for social media posts, won by 1243 votes, as it was too late to remove his name from the ballot paper next to the SNP logo.

Ms Laird’s exit triggers an election for Scottish Labour’s next deputy.

She appealed for the party not to tear itself apart in the wake of its defeat.

She said: “I would urge a period of calm reflection and some kindness towards each other.

“Because if we are to convince people of our values and principles then first we must demonstrate them not just in our words but more importantly in our behaviour and actions towards each other.

“I have seen many leaders of the Labour party come and go. Not all were my choice - but I always took the view that they were our elected leader and my role was to serve the Labour party as best I could.

“Sadly there is now a culture where for some people in our party washing our differences in public via the media has become a far too regular self promotional or destabilising tool.

“It’s a behaviour that upsets our members and undermines all the good work our staff and activists do. It needs to stop.”