Cunninghame North’s MSP has hit back at a proposal by the officials of the SNP’s local association that all MSPs should face a fight for their candidacy.

An article published in The National reported SNP office-bearers in the Cunninghame North constituency had called for every sitting member of parliament at Holyrood to face a selection contest, including their own - Kenneth Gibson.

But although the local association’s organiser and other officers did issue such a call, the constituency association (CA) itself did not.

Mr Gibson told the Herald: “Our CA decided no such thing.

“The matter has never even been raised, let alone discussed at any Cunninghame North CA meeting.

“This proposal - which SNP members read with incredulity - would mean a challenge even to the First Minister.

“Potential candidates are understandably focusing on being selected for the 14 seats currently held by unionist parties and the 16 where an SNP MSP is stepping down.

“Meanwhile, like other SNP MSPs I’m getting on with my work in parliament, while assisting individual constituents with the issues and concerns they bring to my attention.”

Mr Gibson has represented Cunninghame North since 2007, and secured over 50 per cent of the vote at the last election, with the Conservatives’ candidate in second place with just 24.6 per cent.

The Herald understands that Mr Gibson will face a fight for the right to stand as the SNP candidate in Cunninghame North, but potential candidates are still undergoing the vetting process organised by the party centrally.

Dr Malcolm Kerr, organiser of Cunninghame North Constituency Association, said: “The SNP constitution gives, as right of membership, the right to choose candidates for public elections.

“There has never been an automatic reselection process for SNP MSPs.

“In the interests of democracy, we should be thinking seriously about who goes to Holyrood.

“It’s for the constituency association to organise that contest.”

Dr Kerr said that the association’s office-bearers are asking for every sitting MSP to be challenged, and not for any specific MSP to be face a battle.

But Councillor Jean McClung, who is also quoted in the National’s article, said she felt that, although her words were quoted accurately, the “interpretation of the whole scenario” was not “necessarily spot on”.

Ms McClung, who is also vice-convener of the CA, said she was not aware of an ‘urgent call’.

She said: “We’re not demanding that anyone does anything. My personal view is I welcome debate and democracy. I welcome petitions if people are wishing to stand against any MSP.

“Every member has an equal right to put himself or herself forward for vetting to become a candidate in the elections.”

It is against the party’s constitution for local association officials to discuss or express a view about individual candidates.

Party members have until Monday, September 21, to inform the national secretary of their interest in standing as a candidate.

The national secretary is then expected to inform party members of potential candidates by Friday, September 25.