THE SNP has been accused of "playing fast and loose" with the selection of a Westminster candidate amid allegations of gerrymandering.


Councillor Alison Thewliss was chosen on Monday to challenge sitting Labour MP Anas Sarwar in the Glasgow Central constituency.

She was picked following a protracted process which saw just 29% of eligible party members cast a vote.

But rival Muhammad Shoaib, who was rejected by SNP members, has claimed there were problems with the process and he has complained to the party.

He said: "There have been a lot of issues. Some people didn't receive any ballot papers and some people received ballot papers three weeks in advance.

"Some people received ballot papers by post only two days before the deadline and the envelope the ballot paper was meant to be sent in was second class. It was a very messy situation.

"I have concerns with the ballot. I did email the party expressing my concerns. I think somebody has their own agenda and wanted to do things in the way they wanted."

Mr Shoaib is a former Labour councillor who was forced to deny allegations that he billed constituents for advice in 1998.

He also fought a three-year legal battle to clear his name after facing benefit fraud charges in 2003.

A Sheriff delivered a not proven verdict and Shoaib went on to join the SNP and play a key role in the Asians for Independence movement.

He was one of nine candidates vying to be selected in Glasgow Central. Only 425 of a possible 1,462 members voted. It is not known how many voted for winning candidate Alison Thewliss.

Mr Shoaib, who is currently overseas, is now considering an appeal.

He said: "I will be back next Wednesday and then I'll make my decision."

The businessman who runs an immigration advice centre in Govanhill also took a swipe at Calton Councillor Alison Thewliss.

Mr Shoaib added: "She may be a councillor but she's not very well known. I was extremely surprised (at her selection).

Councilor Thewliss said: "That's his opinion. I've been a councillor since 2007. I speak at conference fairly regularly. I'm out there on Twitter and everything else. I raise local issues in the press.

"I think I'm reasonably well known. I must say I don't know him particularly well."

A Labour Party source said: "As far as flying starts to a candidacy go, this is a bit flat.

"Allegations of SNP members being disenfranchised from voting for their own candidate must be clarified and Glasgow SNP must make it clear that every member got their ballot paper.

"Selecting a candidate to be an MP is a serious business and I suspect they have merely been fast and loose with the process, but it does understandably raise concerns that someone may be trying to manipulate the outcome for a preferred candidate."

Councillor Thewliss defended the SNP against the allegations of gerrymandering.

She said: "That's just mudslinging. I've heard no evidence of that kind of thing. The process is not run by Glasgow SNP, it is run by the party nationally with a view to being fair to all candidates. They're absolutely straight down the line with that."

A spokesman for the SNP group said: "We've seen a record number of nominations, and a record number of members participating in choosing their candidates. While we understand the disappointment felt by losing nominees, the members in Glasgow Central have made their choice."