AN SNP MP has accused the party’s ruling NEC of “indulging in political chicanery for their own narrow agenda” amid claims grassroots members have quit over election selection controversies.

Kenny MacAskil, a former justice secretary and current MP for East Lothian, has warned that recent decisions taken by the NEC “have rightly angered members” and that “trust has been broken for some”.

Joanna Cherry announced she was pulling out of the hotly-anticipated selection battle for the Edinburgh Central seat at next year’s Holyrood election after the NEC indicated that she would have to resign as an MP if selected.

READ MORE: SNP MP Cherry quits race for Holyrood

Glasgow Cathcart MSP, James Dornan, was also initially barred from defending his seat next year when the NEC indicated it would impose a women-only shortlist for his constituency – based on an earlier admission he would not seek re-election, which was withdrawn after Mr Dornan said he had “unfinished business” at Holyrood. Following a backlash, the NEC were forced into a sweeping U-turn.

Writing in the Scotsman, Mr MacAskill said the decision “in effect, debarring Joanna Cherry MP from standing as a Holyrood candidate, has seen many members resign”.

But he has appealed that “those most aggrieved should get involved, not leave”.

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In a scathing examination of the structure of the NEC, Mr MacAskill claimed that “positions have been created representing organisations rather than grassroots members” and pointed to a “lack of democratic accountability”.

He added: “There are individuals sitting around an NEC table who seem to represent the narrow views of the clique they represent, rather than the wider views of the membership, let alone the cause the party exists for.

“Power needs to belong to the rank and file not anointed groups.”

But Mr MacAskill has indicated that problems with the NEC have existed for some time, warning that trust “has dissipated over recent years”, while “HQ now seems distant and cold to many”.

READ MORE: Senior SNP official branded 'incapable of doing his job' by colleague

The MP has also claimed that “the NEC has apparently only met twice since lockdown” and has stressed that “staff need to act to policy direction set by the elected leadership”.

He added: “Questions over who and how individuals are appointed to salaried positions remain unanswered. Scrutiny of finances and holding officials to account remains fundamental. Those are what the NEC should be doing not indulging in political chicanery for their own narrow agenda.

READ MORE: James Dornan allowed to seek Holyrood re-election after SNP all-women shortlist U-turn

“The current NEC needs held to account for the decisions it has taken and it or its successor must represent the interest of the membership not self-serving cliques. The party belongs to the members which is why all should remain and change it from within.”