SCOTTISH Labour is to field its third member of the House of Lords at a Holyrood election, more than all the other parties combined.

Despite left-wing leader Richard Leonard emphasising his support for the working class, the People’s Party has again turned to the red benches for a candidate for 2021.

Baroness Clark of Kilwinning has been selected to stand in Cunninghame North, which is currently held by SNP MSP Kenny Gibson.

The Tories said it showed Scottish Labour was struggling to find candidates as it trailed in the polls.

As Katy Clark, the peer was formerly the MP for North Ayrshire and Arran between 2005 and 2015 before losing her seat to the SNP.

She went on to work as political secretary for the then UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and also stood as a European Parliament candidate in London last year.  

She also tried unsuccessfully to become the Labour Westminster candidate in Vauxhall in 2019.

Baroness Clark, 53, who became a peer earlier this year, defeated trade union activist Johanna Baxter for the candidacy by 38 votes to 31 in an internal selection.

The SNP won Cunninghame North in 2016 by 8,724 votes over the Tories, with Labour third.

Labour has already had two peers elected to Holyrood. 

Lord Watson of Invergowrie, the former Govan MP Mike Watson, was elected in 1999 and represented Glasgow Cathcart at Holyrood until 2005, when he resigned after trying to set fire to a hotel in a drunken strop, a crime for which he was later jailed.

Somewhat to his surprise, Lord George Foulkes of Cumnock, another former MP, was then elected as a Lothians list MSP for Labour in 2007.

The Liberal Democrats and Tories have each stood one peer successfully for election.

Lord Steel of Aikwood, the former UK Liberal party leader, was elected as a peer in 1999 and became the parliament’s first presiding officer.  

The Tory peer Lord Selkirk of Douglas also served as a Lothians list MSP from 1999 to 2007.

Labour, the LibDems and Tories have each had one MSP ennobled mid-term. 

Former Labour first minister Jack McConnell became Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale in 2010, former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen became Lord Stephen of Lower Deeside in 2011, a few months before he left Holyrood, and former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie became Baroness Goldie of Bishopton in 2013.

If Baroness Clark is elected, it would mean four Labour MSPs have also been members of the Lords, equalling the total for the LibDems and Tories.

Although other MSPs have become peers after leaving Holyrood, including LibDems Jim Wallace and Jeremy Purvis, only seven MSPs so far have had a “dual mandate” to serve in both the Scottish Parliament and the House of Lords simultaneously.

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is not due to become a peer after she quits Holyroood next spring.

The SNP, who want the House of Lords abolished, have never had a peer.

SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: "With a Holyrood election now just six months away, Scottish Labour are really scraping the barrel in search of suitable candidates. 

"With Richard Leonard left abandoned by much of his party, he's been left with no choice but to call on his unelected chums in the House of Lords. 

"Labour are an utter shambles and their attempts to out-Tory the Tories by blocking Scotland's right to dump Boris Johnson might explain why." 

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: "Following reports of Scottish Labour struggling to find Holyrood candidates this is not surprising.

"Katy Clark will forever be associated with the discredited Jeremy Corbyn regime and her selection in Cunninghame North adds to her dog-eared CV of rejection elsewhere.

"It demonstrates why the Scottish Conservatives are the only party with the policies and people to challenge the SNP at next year's election and ensure we can move on from the divisions of the past.”

While some of his own MSPs were trying to oust him in September, Mr Leonard said he wanted new faces standing for Labour at Holyrood.

He said: "We need to see an injection of new voices, a more diverse profile of people. 

“We want some new candidates coming through so that the Scottish Labour party’s represented by people who understand just what a privilege it is to be a Labour member of the Scottish Parliament.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Scottish Labour candidates are democratically selected by Scottish Labour members in line with our rules and procedures.”