A LEAKED report into the state of Scottish Labour has concluded the party is “in peril” under the leadership of Richard Leonard.

By the Our Scottish Future thinktank, which is backed by Gordon Brown, the presentation has been circulated to the party’s MSPs with an eye to the 2021 election. 

The SNP said it showed Mr Leonard was “completely out of touch with his own party”.

Despite many of his colleagues wanting him out, Scottish Labour said Mr Leonard would be leading the party into the election next spring.

According to the Daily Record, the leaked “strategic overview” warned that, after successive election losses, the “scarring could be permanent” for Scottish Labour.

The SNP, in contrast, is led by a “popular and highly effective politician who is capable of consistently elevating her party”. 

At the 2019 European election, Scottish Labour lost both its MEPS, and at the December general election it lost six of its seven MPs.

Recent polls, which show Mr Leonard remains unknown to most voters almost three years into his leadership, predict more losses at the coming Holyrood election.

A former trade union official, Mr Leonard became leader when his left-wing ally Jeremy Corbyn was UK Labour leader, but lacks the same ties with his successor Sir Keir Starmer.

The Our Scottish Future report said the SNP had “stolen Labour’s clothes” on many policies, and lamented that Scottish Labour was little more than a “niche brand online”.

It said: “In Nicola Sturgeon, Labour are facing a popular and highly effective politician who is capable of consistently elevating her party.” 

It cited Panelbase polling giving the First Minister a net approval rating of +57 among 2019 Labour voters. 

It added: “Labour’s preferred constitutional option of federalism has limited cut-through with the population or buy-in from either side of the debate.”

It said the “two big strategic prizes” at the Holyrood election would be overtaking the Tories to become the official opposition and depriving the pro-independence parties of a majority.

Labour fell to third place at the 2016 election as its vote fell 9.2 percentage points and it lost 13 MSPs to end on 24, while the Tories gained 16 seats to emerge with 31 MSPs. 

With polls also showing majority support for independence, pollster Professor Sir John Curtice has Labour’s weakness in Scotland is a key factor in the Union’s fragility, making Mr Leonard’s future a pressing issue for Sir Keir Starmer to consider.

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “Labour now face the inescapable choice of either getting on the right side of democracy or facing another electoral disaster, given that polls show that almost half of Labour voters now support independence.

"They have absolutely no chance of regaining trust in Scotland unless they start standing up for Scotland's decision to remain in the EU, and our democratic right to hold an independence referendum.

"The case for an independent Scotland has never been stronger - and there's only so long Richard Leonard can remain hitched to the Tories and completely out of touch with his own party.

"With more and more sensible Labour voices agreeing that a referendum is inevitable, it's time that Scottish Labour agreed to respect the democratic right of the people of Scotland to have a choice over our future."

Tory MSP Dean Lockhart added: “This analysis confirms that the Scottish Conservatives are the only party capable of challenging the SNP.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Richard Leonard is clear that he will be leading Scottish Labour into next year’s Scottish Parliament election on a platform to rebuild Scotland after the damage of Covid-19 by creating a National Care Service and a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme.”