SCOTTISH Labour feuding in the wake of the party’s disastrous general election has intensified, with one of Richard Leonard’s closest allies branding the governing body “out of touch”.

Former deputy leader Alex Rowley attacked the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) after it rejected the party leader’s plan for a special conference on the constitution.

Mr Rowley said some of the party hierarchy saw “standing alongside the Tories" on the Union as the best way forward, instead of letting the grassroots set the position on independence.

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The Tories claimed Scottish Labour had descended into “chaos”, while the SNP said it faced a “crunch moment” over the constitution.

The infighting has erupted since last month’s drubbing, when the party lost six of its seven MPs and came third behind the Tories with 18.6 per cent of the vote.

In response, Mr Leonard last week suggested a special conference should consider whether the party should back a second independence referendum, perhaps with federalism as a third option.

However, the SEC dismissed the idea out of hand on Saturday, gravely undermining Mr Leonard’s authority.

Party sources said there was simply “no support” on the SEC, which includes parliamentary, regional and trade union representatives, and sets the party’s overall policy direction.

One source said Mr Leonard’s failure to check he had the SEC’s backing before floating the idea was a “basic” error, and even his usual supporters on the Left of the party had been unimpressed.

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After Mr Leonard was forced to abandon his plan in favour of an “away day” on federalism, sources said he had been “utterly humiliated”.

Former Scottish Labour general secretary Brian Roy said the SEC’s decision was “another blow” to his leadership, tweeting: “I cannot recall a Scottish Executive Committee meeting where a Leader’s position on such a crucial issue was overturned.”

Mr Leonard’s weekly meeting with his MSPs at Holyrood tomorrow is expected to bring him more discomfort.

On Sunday, Mr Rowley, the constitution spokesman in Scottish Labour’s shadow cabinet and an ally of Mr Leonard, hit back by accusing some SEC members of clinging to the rigid Unionist mindset of the 2014 referendum.

The Fife MSP tweeted: “I have to say I don’t get why the Labour Scottish executive are so reluctant to allow our membership to determine out vision and way forward for Scotland.

“Too many of them still think Better Together standing alongside the Tories is the best way forward #outoftouch.”

SEC member Johanna Baxter, who represents members in West of Scotland and Fife, retorted: “Have to say I don’t see why a senior member of the shadow cabinet should publicly attack members of the SEC for carrying out their (voluntary) democratic duties…”

Former Scots Labour MP Rosemary McKenna also told Mr Rowley: “You’ve been out of touch for a long time!”

SEC member James Adams, who represents members in Glasgow and Central Scotland, said Mr Rowley’s “interesting perspective” jarred with his experience.

He tweeted: “I have to say I got scores of messages from party members from across Scotland before and after SEC meeting supporting the decision taken.”

Another former Scottish Labour general secretary also criticised the special conference plan when it was announced last week as the wrong priority for the party.

Colin Smyth, now a South of Scotland MSP, wrote on Twitter: If someone thinks talking to ourselves at a conference is more important than talking to the people of Scotland, how about we debate and discuss our vision for the future of our country not our position on the SNPs....”

Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “Scottish Labour are in a state of chaos with senior members of the party now openly attacking each other in public.

“They are all over the place when it comes to Scotland’s place in the Union, and the infighting is only set to get worse.

“There’s clearly a growing number within the party who want to cave in to the SNP’s demands on IndyRef2.

“With splits as deep as this there’s no way they can be expected to stand up to the SNP or stand up for Scotland’s place in the Union.”

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “It is welcome that growing numbers of senior figures and members across the Labour Party are getting behind a fresh referendum with many backing independence.

“This is a crunch moment for Scottish Labour - instead of siding with the Tories again, and sliding further into irrelevance - they can back a referendum and help Scotland escape Brexit and another decade of Tory rule.

“The SNP will continue to work across parties and society to ensure Scotland has a choice - so we can stay at the heart of Europe and build a fairer future as an equal and independent country.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “If Maurice Golden is looking for a party on the brink of civil war he should look no further than his own.

"With neo-Thatcherite Michelle Ballantyne’s attempt to gate-crash Jackson Carlaw’s coronation as leader it looks like there is trouble brewing for the Scottish Tories.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: "Scottish Labour have been utterly adrift on constitutional questions for years now and senior politicians and activists going tit-for-tat on Twitter is not going to restore them to relevance.

"With independence supporters once again in the minority at the recent election, Scottish Liberal Democrats are clear that it's time to get on with fixing crises in health and education."

Meanwhile, a leading candidate to be the next UK Labour leader has said she would not stand in the way of Indyref2.

Rebecca Long Bailey said: “Ultimately the people of Scotland need to make the case. They’ve got their own Parliament to determine whether they want to push that and that will be for me as a prime minister to review and to look at.

“I wouldn’t want to inhibit the democracy of people because that’s one of the most fundamental pillars that we’re proud of in this country.”

The shadow business secretary also told Sky News she would abolish the House of Lords if she became PM.

She said: “I do want to abolish the House of Lords and we’ll be rolling out as my campaign progresses how we intend to really shake up that constitutional package.

“There would need to be checks and balances in place, but to have a set of completely unelected people doing that I don’t think is right.”