A SECRET recording obtained by the Sunday Herald has laid bare the vicious infighting that led the SNP to suspend all its branches in a top election target.

The explosive tape reveals extraordinary levels of anger and distrust within the SNP in the Coatbridge & Chryston seat, where Labour is defending a majority of 2,741 in May.

The recording features SNP members calling each other “animals”, “misogynist”, “racist”, and Holyrood candidate Fulton MacGregor complaining the feuding has made him physically ill.

“I’ve been feeling sick all day. Can’t concentrate on anything,” he says at one point.

The recording also includes North Lanarkshire councillor Dr Imtiaz "Jimmy" Majid shouting that he has repeatedly faced racism from within the party’s ranks.

“I’ve been called a monkey. Where do you want me to start?” he says.

The audio recording was made last month at the inaugural meeting of the Coatbridge & Chryston constituency association, an event that ought to have been a moment of celebration.

Because the previous single branch for the seat had a post-referendum surge in members, it was split into four branches with a new constituency association (CA) to oversee them.

That meant a meeting to choose a CA convener and other office bearers.

However, the event descended into chaos, with walk-outs, rants and recriminations as long-simmering feuds erupted over who should be in charge.

As a result, SNP National Secretary Patrick Grady last week suspended the CA and its four branches until after the Holyrood election, saying that “a culture of mistrust” had created a “toxic” environment in which “the level of discord is intolerable”.

Despite North Lanarkshire being one of just four council areas to vote Yes in the referendum, hundreds of local SNP members are reported to have quit in disgust in recent months.

“The party hierarchy is neglecting a key Yes area,” said one exasperated SNP source.

“It’s just the same old f***ing gang running the show.”

Although Majid claimed people had walked out the CA meeting “because I am coloured”, SNP sources say the reason was a series of feuds centred around MSP Richard Lyle, a close ally of Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil.

A councillor for 36 years, Lyle became a Central Scotland list MSP in 2011 and was last year selected as the Holyrood candidate for Uddingston and Bellshill.

To his critics, the 65-year-old is an elder of the so-called “Monklands McMafia”, a powerbroker who aggressively promotes himself and his cronies and ruthlessly destroys his opponents.

He has been the subject of multiple, fruitless complaints to SNP HQ.

Last August, 10 members of the SNP’s Uddingston & Bellshill branch, where Lyle is convener, signed a 12-page complaint to HQ accusing him of having “consistently abused his position... to bully and intimate SNP members and to manipulate branch and branch executive meetings for his own purposes”, but the complaint came to nothing.

With Lyle also backing allies in Coatbridge & Chryston, the backlash against his methods and supporters has spread across the Lanarkshire SNP.

His clique, which includes Scottish Youth Parliament chair Jordan Linden, Majid, MacGregor, and the Coyle family - three councillors on North Lanarkshire’s planning committee - has been dubbed the “Lylettes” by their critics.

Until recently, Lyle’s various opponents were as likely to feud with each other as the MSP.

But since the general election, many have gathered around Phil Boswell, the new MP for Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill, who is now seen as Lyle’s main rival for power.

Boswell unexpectedly won the Westminster candidacy against Majid and disaffected SNP members now view the MP as their best hope of reforming the local party.

Boswell’s low opinion of Lyle crystallised at a meeting of the Uddingston & Bellshill branch last summer, which spiralled into a near-brawl under Lyle’s chairmanship.

SNP members called Lyle a “f***ing liar” and walked out after a disputed vote which Lyle claimed had ended in a tie, but which a recount by Boswell showed Lyle had lost.

Since crossing Lyle, Boswell has been the subject of a series of newspaper stories about his finances, and now faces a Commons standards inquiry - no coincidence, say his supporters.

Boswell’s allies include North Lanarkshire councillors Julie McAnulty and Paul Welsh, who both work for the MP, fellow councillor David Baird and activist Pat Rolink.

McAnulty, who crossed Lyle by standing against him for the Uddingston & Bellshill candidacy, was last week suspended for alleged racism - after a complaint from one of Lyle’s employees.

McAnulty’s supporters say she is the victim of yet another smear campaign within the party.

Meanwhile Lyle’s defenders say Boswell and those around him, although they may be seen as fresh-faced reformers, are simply greedy for power.

“This is not about idealism. This is about getting a piece of the pie,” said one source.

The secret recording shows ill-feeling erupted within minutes at the CA meeting, which was chaired by ex-National Secretary Duncan Ross.

It begins with members complaining about Lyle’s handling of a “shambles” of another meeting. When a woman says the party is dominated by “lies and agenda” a man tells her to stop lying.

Activist Patricia Spencer then complains: “I am sick, sick of SNP membership locally and the dirty dealings, the manipulation, the misogyny. I’m at the point of just walking out.”

She says party HQ knows of a “catalogue” of “shocking” behaviour but failed to act.

A woman then calls a man a “misogynist” and says: “I can’t do this anymore”.

Ross pleads for calm: “Can we stop? I find this really quite depressing in very many ways.

“You need to ask yourselves some serious questions about why you’re here. You’ve got a candidate sitting other there [MacGregor]. How does this all look to him?

“It seems to me there’s an awful lot, all over my party, this party, of people who’d rather be in meetings like this, talking to each other, than out on the street.

“Some of the stuff I’ve heard tonight I find extraordinary in all sorts of ways.”

When the bickering resumes, Ross shouts: “No! No more! Enough! Enough! Enough!”

The meeting then elects a CA convener, with Majid beating Welsh by 10 votes to 9.

When it becomes clear that Boswell’s faction can be outvoted for every office bearer position, Welsh, McAnulty and seven others walk out. “It’s a stitch up,” says one woman.

“This is a farce, a complete farce,” adds McAnulty. “This is ridiculous, a complete utter joke.”

A shaken sounding Ross admits to the room: “You’re not going to have a functional CA, it’s not going to happen, while you’ve got this deep split amongst you.

“I’m deeply unhappy about what’s happened, deeply unhappy.”

An equally miserable MacGregor adds: “This is my campaign we’re talking about and I want to move on. I’ve been feeling sick all day. Can’t even concentrate on anything.”

After calm is restored, in the closing five minutes of the meeting, 20 minutes after the walk-out, Majid suddenly launches into a furious diatribe about alleged racism in the local party.

“It’s about time I speak up. It’s not multi-layered. There’s only one problem, and that is because I am coloured, and I seem to be in charge,” he says.

“That is out of order, that is completely out of order,” says McAnulty, now back in the room.

“Hang on, hang on. Stop, stop, Imtiaz, please,” begs Ross.

Majid refuses: “No, I want to finish. I’ve been quiet for too long.

“I’ve faced meetings where Asians are not allowed to come. I have faced meetings where Asians have been called racists. I can say this now because I’ve been elected as convener.

“Today these people only walked out because I am coloured and I was elected.”

After McAnulty asks Ross to halt the proceedings, Majid accuses her of having “form on this” and claims she apologised at a previous SNP meeting for a racist comment.

“I did not make a racist comment," she replies angrily. "Pull the minutes and show me where the racist comment was.”

After a brief lull, Ross says to the room: “You’ve got some serious issues.”

McAnulty replies: “Yes, I’ve just been called a racist, and that’s going back to headquarters.”

Majid responds: “We are the ones who are the brunt of this. So we decide if somebody is a racist. You don’t decide if somebody’s a racist. I’m at the brunt of this. I’ve been called a monkey. Where do you want me to start?”

Shortly after the meeting, a draft minute taken by MacGregor’s brother, Fergus, was leaked to the press - the recording shows the minute was largely but not wholly accurate, with some events out of sequence and quotes wrongly attributed.

However it led to several damaging stories about McAnulty, culminating in a claim that she told Lyle’s parliamentary assistant Sheena McCulloch that she wanted “Pakis” out the party.

McAnulty was suspended by the SNP last week as a result and is now consulting lawyers.

Asked yesterday if she invented or exaggerated her complaint about McAnulty, McCulloch said “speak to SNQ headquarters”, then hung up the phone.

Lyle, Boswell, MacGregor and McAnulty failed to respond to calls and emails for comment.

An SNP spokesman said: “Richard Lyle was selected by SNP members in a three-way contest for the candidacy for Uddingston and Bellshill.

“The National Secretary and party staff have offered guidance to members about best practice in relation to branch meetings, and will continue to offer that support.”