By Tempany Grace 

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie leads the race to be Scottish Labour deputy leader following a dramatic exit from Glasgow MSP Pauline McNeill.

The deputy leadership in now contended by centrist Ms Baillie and socialist Matt Kerr.

The contest will be a vote on whether party members back or oppose a second independence referendum.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter:

Councillor Matt Kerr, who represents the Cardonald ward

Ms Baillie is against a new referendum, but Glasgow city councillor Kerr believes the party should not block one.

Ms Baillie has been twice acting leader of the party, and currently has the most nominations from fellow MSPs and councillors.

The Dumbarton MSP said she would be "travelling the length and breadth of the country, listening to the views of members and supporters".

She added: "For Scottish Labour to win again, we must first understand the reasons for our losses.”

A vacancy arose after former Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird lost her Westminster seat at the general election, a defeat that also triggered her resignation as leader Richard Leonard’s number two.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: Pauline McNeill

Pauline McNeill MSP

Ms McNeill announced she was withdrawing from the contest yesterday afternoon saying there would be “little scope for a voice in the middle” despite receiving enough nominations to stand.

Announcing her decision on Facebook, she said: "After talking to people and reflecting on the final ballot my sense is that the contest will be acutely polarised within the party and that there is little scope for a voice in the middle of what will be a long contest."

Speaking about her nomination, Ms Baillie hopes to "have a positive debate, unify the party and offer hope to people for the future of our country".

The ballot will open on February 21 and close on April 2. The result will be announced on Friday, April 3.