SNP MSP Colin Keir will lose his Edinburgh Western seat at next year’s Scottish election after party members failed to support his bid to stand again in the constituency.
SNP sources said Mr Keir, who has recently been criticised for campaigning for a second referendum, had been defeated by Toni Giugliano in the internal battle over who should stand for the party at the May 2016 poll.
The Evening News understands Mr Giuiliano, a long-standing SNP activist, was the comfortable winner in an internal selection process that was determined by a single transferable vote involving local members.
Around 70 per cent of the 1,400-strong local membership took part in the contest, which set Mr Keir against Mr Giugliano and five other challengers: Alasdair Rankin; Richard Lewis; Graham Sutherland; and Alison Lindsay.
“I would say Toni got the support of about 70 per cent of members, who voted,” a SNP activist said last night.
Mr Giugliano beat Mr Keir, who entered the Scottish Parliament as part of the SNP landslide win in 2011, after receiving an endorsement from the SNP’s former leader Alex Salmond.
Mr Giugliano sits on the SNP’s national executive committee. He has worked for NHS Health Scotland, SNP MSPs at Holyrood and was appointed Yes Scotland’s Sectoral Groups Adviser for the referendum campaign.
During the selection battle for Edinburgh Western, Mr Keir’s campaign literature was criticised by the SNP’s political opponents.
Leaflets in support of the MSP said: “Re-elect Colin Keir MSP for Edinburgh Western. We need the maximum number of MSPs elected in 2016 to win a second independence referendum. To do this we need to re-elect Colin. He has a track record of fighting for the SNP and winning.”
The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the referendum had been presented as a once in a generation opportunity and Mr Keir and the SNP should respect last year’s result.
Mr Keir has been criticised for an alleged lack of activity since his surprise victory in the SNP’s 2011 landslide. At the time, Mr Keir insisted no-one has ever complained to him directly.
Mr Keir and Mr Giugliano were unavailable for comment last night.
A SNP spokeswoman said: “The SNP’s candidate selection is an open and democratic process where the decisions rest firmly with our membership.”