One of the SNP’s most senior MPs faces a battle to be the party’s candidate at the next general election after a prominent activist mounted a bid to unseat him.

Alyn Smith has been challenged for the Stirling nomination by Ahsan Khan, the husband of Stirling’s MSP Evelyn Tweed.

With a general election widely expected next year, the SNP is currently going through the process of selecting candidates for Scotland’s 57 constituencies.

There are likely to be battles in a number of seats, but Mr Smith is one of the most high-profile members of the party's Westminster group and is Stephen Flynn's spokesperson on Europe. 

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Earlier this year, Mr Khan was the SNP’s candidate at the Dunblane Bridge of Allan by-election. Mr Smith had campaigned for his party colleague “several times” in the run-up to the vote.

“With a professional background in local government and housing, Ahsan is uniquely placed to dive deeper into local issues and work constructively to find a resolution,” he said in a column for the local paper. 

However, Mr Khan narrowly lost out to the Scottish Conservatives, allowing Douglas Ross’s party to become the largest group on Stirling Council.

According to Mr Khan’s LinkedIn, he specialises in human resources services primarily for the housing sector.

He describes his professional interests as employee engagement, recruitment, investigations, and training, all to increase organisation performance.

He currently works for a recruitment consultancy and as a college lecturer, and has previously worked as head of housing for Clackmannanshire Council.

It’s understood he also applied unsuccessfully for the position of SNP Chief Executive, losing out to Murray Foote.

Mr Khan lives in Dunblane with Ms Tweed and their two teenage children.

He could not be reached for comment.

Mr Smith said it would be “inappropriate to comment on internal selections for now.”

He added: “What happens in the Stirling selection will be for the SNP members to decide and I’m proud of my record.

“I’ll keep on with fighting for Stirling in Westminster and for Scotland’s independence in Europe.”

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One of the most contentious SNP selection battles is in Glasgow East, where two incumbent MPs are set to challenge each other for the one seat.

Alison Thewliss is taking on David Linden for the constituency. It had been widely expected she would stand in Glasgow North, which has been vacated after Patrick Grady failed vetting following his sexual harassment of a teenager.

While she has thrown her hat into the ring for the seat, she has also challenged Mr Linden, as a sizeable chunk of her old Glasgow Central seat will be taken in by the new Glasgow East.

According to the Daily Record, Brendan O'Hara, who recently became the party's foreign affairs spokesperson, will face off against Helensburgh councillor Math Campbell-Sturgess in the new Argyll, Bute and Lochaber South constituency.

Mr Campbell-Sturgess has been a councillor in Helensburgh and Lomond South since 2022, and works for Stuart McMillan, the SNP MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde.

Her main rival for the nomination is Dundee councillor Lynne Short, an ally of the SNP leader of Dundee City Council John Alexander and works for Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick.

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In the new Moray, West, Nairn and Strathspey seat, which the SNP is expected to pick up, Graham Leadbitter, who works for SNP MP Richard Thomson and is a former leader of Moray Council will take on fellow councillor Jérémie Fernandes.

His partner Laura Mitchell, who works for minister Richard Lochhead, stood in the predecessor seat in 2019, losing out to Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross by just 513 votes.

Responding to news of the Stirling selection battle, Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy said: “This is further evidence that the SNP are fighting like nats in a sack.

"The bitter in-fighting within the party is now being played out in public as one well-known SNP politician in this area challenges another.

“As they squabble in Stirling and across the country, the SNP are completely distracted from focusing on tackling Scotland’s real priorities such as the cost-of-living crisis.”