The sacking, by the party's London headquarters, provoked consternation in Scotland, where Labour is sensitive to claims that it is run from England. There were also suggestions Mr Rowley had fallen foul of the continuing battle for power between factions loyal to Tony Blair and those backing the Chancellor, Gordon Brown.
Less Machiavellian voices suggest Mr Rowley was simply not making much impact. Earlier this week, the appointment of John Reid as Secretary of State for Scotland, over the expected candidate, Helen Liddell, was seen as confirmation of Mr Brown's strong grip on power in Scotland.
Mr Rowley, 35, a former leader of Fife Council, had been general secretary for only 12 months and was Mr Brown's protege. His removal is said to have been engineered by John Rafferty, Labour's Scottish campaigns director.
Mr Rowley said: "When I became general secretary I had only one task in mind, to help win the elections. Now that is completed, I want to pursue other plans."Reuse content