JACKIE Baillie has become the runaway favourite to be the next Scottish Labour deputy after it emerged her rival faces disciplinary action for breaking the party whip.

Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr walked out of the budget vote at the City Chambers on Thursday saying he could not vote for any party’s proposals - including his own.

A source said the level of anger within the Labour group in Glasgow was “enormous” and “disciplinary proceedings have already been initiated”.

It is understood all Glasgow Labour councillors have been informed of the action started against Mr Kerr.

Mr Kerr, the left-winger in the deputy leadership contest, refused to back Labour’s budget plans after saying councillors needed to stand up to central government and fight cuts.

Labour city finance spokesman Malcolm Cunning later said he was “hugely disappointed” and that refusing to vote for Labour’s budget proposals was breaking the group whip.

Cllr Cunning told him via Twitter: "You broke the group whip, indulged in personal grandstanding and gifted the SNP an attack line before walking out and leaving your Labour colleagues to deal with the consequences."

Glasgow Labour chair Marie McGarrity today said she had switched her support in the deputy leader’s race from Mr Kerr to Ms Baillie because of the incident.

She said: “Leadership is not walking out on your colleagues or trying to throw them under a bus. That's not unity. I nominated Matt Kerr, but through this contest it has become clear that Jackie Baillie is the real change candidate. I will be voting for her."

The SNP administration in Glasgow ultimately passed its budget, which included £42m of savings and a 4.64 per cent rise in council tax, with support from the Greens.

Mr Kerr said: "I have not been notified [of disciplinary action] but it is also not unexpected.

“Declining to support a Labour Group decision is not something I did lightly, but each of us has to make a stand against the SNP cuts at some point.

“I could not have in all conscience voted for any of the budgets proposed in the Chamber yesterday. I have had enough, this city has had enough and we owe it to the people we represent to put up a fight.

“I hope my action generates debate throughout Labour in Scotland."

Mr Kerr’s woes are likely to boost Ms Baillie’s pitch as the voice of reason and electability.

The moderate Dumbarton MSP, who was sacked by Scottish leader Richard Leonard in 2018 for briefing against him, today held a campaign speech in Glasgow.

She described herself as "the real change candidate" and warned the party will need to change to survive in next year's Holyrood election.

The former cabinet minister is already backed by most Labour MSPs and Scotland's only MP Ian Murray.

Despite their past differences, she insisted she could "absolutely" work with Mr Leonard.

In a speech to members - including MSPs Anas Sarwar, Daniel Johnson and James Kelly - Ms Baillie said: "If you think this is as good as it gets, if you think more of the same will do, then vote for the other guy. But if you think we can and must be better - better for our members, better for our movement and, most importantly, better for our country - then I hope I can count on your support. Because I am the real change candidate."

Attacking the Left’s hold on the party under Jeremy Corbyn and Mr Leonard, she said: "Next year's campaign can't be driven by a small group advocating more of the same - focused on ideology and the past rather than electability and our hopes for the future.

"We need to open our doors, rebuild and unite the Labour Party, look outwards, not inwards, and be ruthless in our intention to win. Are we going to spend the next few years repeating the SNP's criticisms of us or are we going to get off our knees?

"Are we going to throw everything we've got at this arrogant, rotten SNP government or spend the time fighting amongst ourselves?"