TWO constituency branches of the Labour Party have written to Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer to make a “formal complaint” to express concerns about the “integrity of the process” in drawing up the shortlist for prospective MPs.

The grassroots Labour members said they "cannot continue campaigning" for the party until their concerns about the selection process are resolved.

Starmer's Labour has been accused of wielding an iron grip on processes which decide who can stand for the party in elections, excluding local and often left-wing candidates in favour of loyalists.

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Michael Shanks, who has previously stood for Labour in Glasgow Kelvin and Glasgow North West, is said to be the leadership's choice for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat – the Westminster constituency where Margaret Ferrier currently serves as the MP which is facing a potential by-election.

One senior Scottish Labour figure told journalist Michael Crick that there had been "a total stitch-up" by party bosses to install Shanks "by excluding Leah Stalker, who is the favourite of local members, and Mo Razzaq, who is a popular councillor".

As it stands, Ferrier is facing a parliamentary suspension of 30 days, which she has appealed. However, should this be approved, a recall petition will be triggered and, if 10% of her constituents sign, a by-election will take place.

The letter

The letter itself, which comes from the Rutherglen Constituency Labour Party and the Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse Constituency Labour Party (CLP), puts forth a number of questions to be answered.

It reads: “Following the publication of the Rutherglen and Hamilton-West short-list, both our CLPs have been inundated by complaints from members raising serious concerns around the process, lack of transparency and the lack of involvement of local members.”

It adds that a by-election is “urgently” needed in Ferrier’s constituency.

The letter was shared on the Twitter account Tomorrow’s MPs, run by the journalist Michael Crick, and goes on: “Similarly in Lanark and Hamilton East, we need a candidate who can take the fight to both the SNP and the Tories to deliver a Labour government that will transform the lives of those who have been badly let down by governments in Westminster and Holyrood.”

It added that members have “expressed concerns about the integrity” of the selection process for potential MPs.

The questions

At a joint meeting of the two CLPs, members were “deeply concerned” that there is no “formal route” to dispute the selection process, according to what’s in the letter.

It then puts forward 10 questions for Sarwar and Starmer to answer. These include who agreed upon the process for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West selection and a request for minutes of any meetings where the selections were agreed.

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The two leaders were also asked how the candidates were narrowed down and what questions they had been asked.

The final question reads: “What process will be used to select a candidate for the Lanark and Hamilton East selection?”

What has Labour said about the seats?

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "Selection processes for Labour Party parliamentary candidates are properly administered in full accordance with procedures set by the Scottish Executive Committee. 

"Scottish Labour is pleased to have a number of fantastic candidates on the shortlist who will be champions for Rutherglen and Hamilton West."

Regarding a potential by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Sarwar has previously said Labour was “confident” it could get the support it needs to win the seat.

Asked if local Labour members would be the ones to choose their candidate, he said: “Yes.”

He was also asked about the possibility of party bosses selecting a candidate and imposing them on the constituency.

The Scottish Labour leader replied: “There will of course be a process where we go through due diligence and long-listing, but of course local members will have the ultimate say.”

Concerns over the shortlist

The Daily Record previously reported that Michael Shanks, a contender to be Labour’s candidate in Ferrier’s constituency, quit the party four years ago over Brexit.

The shortlist for the seat includes Shanks, doctor Greg Irwin, Aberdeen councillor Deena Tissera, and South Lanarkshire councillor Maureen Devlin.