THE Scottish Labour leadership contest is “to go to the wire”, the co-chair of Anas Sarwar’s campaign said yesterday as the contest enters its final few days.

Pauline McNeill MSP said thousands of members had pledged to support Sarwar to succeed former leader Kezia Dugdale, who stood down in August.

“More than 8,000 members have already pledged to vote for Anas, and volunteers at our telephone banks have spoken to an average of over 400 members every single day to relay our positive message of hope,” she said.

“There is no doubt 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.”

Sarwar’s rival, Richard Leonard, who is on the left of the party and more associated with those who strongly back UK leader Jeremy Corbyn, last night

urged undecided voters to vote for him as he underlined his commitment to the living wage and a wealth tax.

“Progressive taxation and a wealth tax, a 10-point plan from education to industrial policy and public ownership, strong action on the living wage, defence of our public services and re-empowering local government: we need all of those things to take on the SNP and the Tories and to win power again,”Leonard said.

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

Over the weekend former leader Johann Lamont broke with convention to make public her choice to succeed Dugdale. Lamont said she was supporting Sarwar, insisting the contest was not a “proxy test for our loyalty to our UK leader”.

Sarwar, who served as an MP before being elected to Holyrood in 2016, was Scottish Labour deputy leader when Lamont headed up the party, including during the 2014 independence referendum campaign.

She quit the post suddenly later that year, accusing party bosses in London of treating Scotland like a “branch office”. The new leader will be announced on Saturday.