THE Scottish Labour leadership race will “go to the wire”, Anas Sarwar’s campaign has insisted, despite receiving pledges from less than a quarter of the electorate.

After a slow start bogged down in rows about his wealth and private school choice, the centrist MSP is back in contention as the contest enters its final week, supporters claimed.

The winner is due to be announced next Saturday.

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill, co-chair of Mr Sarwar’s campaign, said more than 8000 members and affiliated supporters had pledged to back him, with phone banks speaking to a 400 people a day for the past fortnight.

Around 35,000 people have a vote in the contest, and based on previous races more than 70 per cent are like to participate.

Ms McNeill MSP said turnout would be “critical” with all evidence pointing to a close result.

She said: “There is no doubt that this contest is going to be close - it will go to the wire.

“This final week of campaigning is crucial, and turnout could well decide the result.

“My message to every member and trade union supporter is: don’t sit this one out.”

The contest, which began when Kezia Dugdale quit after two years as leader on August 29, has been one of the most bitter in recent Scottish political memory, with accusations of betrayal, vote rigging and ghost memberships.

Mr Sarwar was forced to transfer a £5m stake in a family firm to his children after it emerged it did not pay the real living wage and had no formal trade union recognition in place.

There was also controversy about him sending his children to £10,000-a-year Hutcheson's Grammar school, and having once held shares in the tax haven of Jersey while a Labour MP.

Mr Sarwar’s left-wing rival, Richard Leonard, thanked Labour members for their support and urged those who had yet to cast their vote to do so.

He said: “In this election I have emphasised the need for strong and inclusive leadership, based on traditional Labour values, and radical policies that set out real change for our Party and our country.

“Voters need us to stand clearly on their side, with principles and a vision, providing hope and optimism again.”