AN SNP MP has accused the party’s ruling body of “bullying” in a growing row over Holyrood candidate selection.

Angus Brendan MacNeil said the National Executive Committee (NEC) had created a “festering” problem with two hugely controversial decisions last week. 

The Western Isles MP also promoted an article attributed to an anonymous member of the NEC which described its actions as “a farce, a shambles, an incompetent mess”.

The article, which appeared on the pro-independence Wings Over Scotland website, dubbed senior members of the party the “fiasco four” for mishandling the situation.

It followed the NEC deciding last Thursday to use an all-woman shortlist to pick a new SNP candidate for the 2021 election in Glasgow Cathcart despite their being no vacancy.

After incumbent MSP James Dornan, who had announced but later reversed plans to stand down, challenged the decision, it was deemed “unconstitutional” and dropped.

However the NEC’s other big decision that night - to force any MP wanting to go to Holyrood to resign their seat if selected - still stands, and continues to cause ill-feeling.

The move was seen as a ‘stitch-up’ to block MP Joanna Cherry QC from competing with former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson for the candidacy in Edinburgh Central. 

After the NEC’s decision, Ms Cherry withdrew from the selection, saying she would not sack her staff to stand.

With Ms Cherry close to Alex Salmond and Mr Robertson close to Nicola Sturgeon, the NEC decision was also read as the party hierarchy carving up the seat for the First Minister’s pal.

The Wings Over Scotland article said the decision was so close it had to be be taken twice, and the result then took 30 minutes to be presented, fleetingly, by a party official.

The article claimed the process was “shoddy and improper” and in breach of SNP rules.

It ended: “A farce, a shambles, and incompetent and unconstitutional mess. We need our leader to step in now and sort it.”

Mr MacNeil, who is also close to Mr Salmond, tweeted a link to the accusations, adding that the failure to reverse the decision affecting Ms Cherry seemed to be “stubbornness adding to ganging-up bullying by NEC.  Leadership needed to stop this festering any longer.” 

After last week's meeting, one NEC member, Women’s Officer Rhiannon Spear, accused the party’s National Secretary Angus MacLeod of being “incapable” of doing his job.

The Glasgow City Councillor said she was “losing confidence” in Mr MacLeod, who is supposed to be the guardian of the SNP’s constitution, after he allowed the NEC to take a decision on Glasgow Cathcart which he then deemed “unconstitutional” less than 48 hours later.

An SNP spokesperson said: ”We do not comment on internal party business."