LABOUR leadership contender Anas Sarwar has said the forthcoming race “will not be about the direction of the UK Labour Party” as his opponent Richard Leonard set out his left-wing vision of redistribution of wealth and nationalised industry.

Both men publicly declared their support for UK leader Jeremy Corbyn and paid tribute to Kezia Dugdale, who announced her shock resignation on Tuesday.

However, Mr Leonard’s dissatisfaction with Ms Dugdale’s tenure could be detected in his opening bid to be the next leader of the party.

In his newly revamped website, he complained “for too long people have heard what we are against, but not what we are for”, and urged the party “to act according to Labour principles rather than simply manage, manoeuvre and position to win support”.

But Mr Sarwar, who is expected to stand as a unity candidate, said Ms Dugdale “led from the front” with a “radical manifesto” which “restored confidence to the party that we can win again”.

Mr Leonard said: “Almost 13 million people voted for a Labour vision which committed us to extending public ownership, ending austerity, properly investing again in our public services and to redistributing wealth and power to the many from the few. These are not new ideas to me.”

The former GMB union organiser said Labour needs to be “audacious” and take more chances to win power

“We need an economy where we see a fundamental shift in power from those who own the wealth to those working people who create it,” he said.

Mr Sarwar said: “The contest will not be about the direction of the UK Labour Party – we are all united in our desire to elect Jeremy Corbyn as our next prime minister.

“It will be about electing a leader who can serve our country as the next first minister of Scotland.”

He added: “The next Scottish Labour leader must unite our movement, continue to build confidence among voters and ensure the party are back where we should be – united, radical and in power.”

Some see the forthcoming race as a battle for the soul of the party, with Mr Leonard among a trio of MSPs who publicly backed Mr Corbyn against a group of Scottish Labour members who signed a letter urging him step down for the good of the party, which included Mr Sarwar.

Former Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran said Scottish Labour needs to cease its in-fighting.

“Scottish Labour particularly, and the Labour Party generally, has a very bad habit of defining its politics against each other, as opposed to developing policies for what is in the best interests of the country, and it needs to get out of that if Scottish Labour is ever going to make any real attempt at power again,” she said.

“Scotland is crying out for a strong centre-left party with ideas and visions on the big ticket issues, and until Labour starts generating that I think there is still going to be trouble ahead.”

She welcomed Mr Sarwar’s decision to stand as “someone from an ethnic minority background”.

“It has always been regarded as one of the weaknesses of the Scottish Parliament that we haven’t had ethnic minority representation,” she said.

However, she said it would be “unfortunate” if Labour had two male leaders at a UK level and two male leaders in Scotland.

She also alluded to reports that some critics of Mr Loenoard are criticising his Yorkshire roots and accent and questioning whether an Englishman can lead Scottish Labour.

Ms Curran said: “I hope they use this opportunity to start generating ideas about not just who’s English and who’s not, but actually what ideas they have got.”

Tom Harris, who stood for the Scottish Labour leadership in 2011, said: “Frankly, anyone who chooses which party to support based on its leader's accent should probably not be allowed to vote.”

Neil Findlay, who led Mr Corbyn’s election campaign in Scotland, said he was “delighted” that Mr Leonard had confirmed his candidacy.

Rhea Wolfson, a Scottish member of UK Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, said she was “thrilled” that Mr Leonard is standing for Scottish leader, describing him as “a person of great integrity and determination to make Scotland for the many”.