THREE more Labour peers, including two former cabinet ministers, have urged Richard Leonard to quit as leader of the Scottish party.

Former Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell, former Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary George Robertson, and former MI6 officer Meta Ramsay said the party “urgently” needed a new face at the helm. 

“It is clear to us and to many within the party, that you have, sadly, not been able to make an impact with the Scottish public,” they told him.

Besides their government work, the trio have also had senior roles in the Labour party.

Baroness Liddell was the first female General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party in the 1970s, Lord Robertson was a chair of the Scottish Labour party, and Baroness Ramsay was an adviser to the late John Smith when he was Labour leader.

The call came in a letter to Mr Leonard which is also signed by Labour peer George Foulkes, who called last month for a change of Scottish leader.

The intervention by such experienced figures in the party adds to the growing pressure on Mr Leonard to stand down after almost three years as Labour’s ninth Holyrood leader.

On Wednesday, four of the 22 MSPs under him called for him to go, saying they had lost confidence in him and he was taking the party to an electoral “catastrophe” in 2021. 

In response, Mr Leonard, a left-wing admirer of Jeremy Corbyn, threatened James Kelly, Jenny Marra, Daniel Johnson and Mark Griffin with deselection.

In their letter, the four peers told Mr Leonard they were writing as “members of the Scottish Labour Party with many years of continuous service to the party”.

The said: “We are sure you would wish to do everything possible to ensure the return of Labour Governments at both Holyrood and Westminster.

"We all know, whatever great policies we have, they will only benefit the people whom we seek to help and who desperately need our help, if we form Governments at both levels.

“In spite of your best efforts over the past three years our support in Scotland has been falling dramatically, resulting in the loss of seats at every level and the prospects for the Scottish Parliament election next year look even worse.

“It is clear to us and to many within the party, that you have, sadly, not been able to make an impact with the Scottish public and your recent response to criticism by intensifying your campaign appears to have resulted in no improvement.

“We are therefore asking you to do what is best for the party, and the country, and consider whether continuing as leader of Scottish Labour is in the interests of both the party and the people we seek to serve.

“We have no doubt about your sincerity and that is why we hope you will recognise our plea not as any criticism of your personal commitment but just a recognition of the reality we now face and what needs to be done urgently to begin the restoration of our party.”

Recent polls suggest Scottish Labour could fall to just 14 per cent support in next May’s Holyrood election, and lose six of the 24 seats it won in 2016.

The party lost both its MEPs and six of seven MPs in elections last year.

The polls also show more than half of Scots barely know who Mr Leonard is, with 53% saying they knew too little about him to judge his performance.

The UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today said he had a good working relationship with Mr Leonard and both were focused on the 2021 election.

However, like most of Mr Leonard’s MSPs, he did not offer any overt support.

One of Mr Starmer’s frontbench, shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves, this morning said Mr Leonard should “consider his position” given the “pretty dire” polling numbers. 

Mr Leonard later insisted he was staying put and had the support of party members.

Asked about the grandees' letter, a spokesperson for Mr Leonard did not address the criticisms, but said: “This pandemic has exposed the fundamental weaknesses in our economy, care system and jobs market.

"Scottish Labour under Richard Leonard will relentlessly prosecute the case for real and fundamental change at the 2021 Scottish elections to build a fairer, greener and better Scotland.

“Scottish Labour under Richard Leonard has forced the Scottish government to take action over jobs and social care and forced a U-Turn from the SNP government over the exams fiasco, a U-turn that an SNP MSP has openly conceded was the result of Scottish Labour’s pressure.”