A FORMER British ambassador famous for whistle-blowing on human-rights abuses in Uzbekistan has accused the SNP hierarchy of "bullying" and a Labour-style "stitch-up" after he was blocked from becoming a general election candidate for the party.

Craig Murray, who was a high-profile independence campaigner, had been asked by SNP activists in Airdrie & Shotts and Falkirk to stand next May. However, despite his ­prominence, he unexpectedly failed the SNP's internal vetting process just before Christmas.

He said he was failed for lacking "commitment on group discipline" after being asked if he would vote for the bedroom tax if told to do so as part of a Westminster deal with another party. He said he would not.

Murray, 56, said the question was bizarre given it is firm SNP policy to oppose the tax, and seemed designed to eliminate him as a possible candidate.

Murray, who unsuccessfully appealed the decision, called it "classic Labour ... political management".

The SNP has yet to select candidates in Airdrie & Shotts or Falkirk, but in both seats the party hierarchy already has favoured applicants. In Airdrie & Shotts it is Neil Gray, who has been the office manager for the local MSP, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil, since 2008. In Falkirk, party bosses are behind SNP women's officer Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a Glasgow lawyer who failed to became an MEP last May.

In a blog post yesterday, Murray said he had been "astonished by the hostility of the appeals board", which was chaired by Ian Hudghton MEP and two MSPs, adding: "They could not have been more personally unfriendly towards me if I were Jim Murphy: their demeanour was bullying. I found it a truly unpleasant experience."

Murray, an SNP member for three years, is now barred from standing anywhere as an SNP candidate.

He told the Sunday Herald: "I'm absolutely shocked. I'm very, very depressed. I think in both Airdrie & Shotts and in Falkirk it's evident who the party hierarchy wants to be the candidate.

"My own view is the [bedroom tax] question was asked to eliminate me. I'm really gutted."

Murray, who was the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, said that by choosing "party darlings" as candidates, the SNP was guilty of Labour-style control-freakery. "I'm really sad, because like many people from the Yes movement I believed we were building a new kind of politics in Scotland," he said.

The SNP refused to discuss Murray's criticisms. A spokeswoman said: "This is an internal party matter."