The chair of the SNP is being challenged for her Westminster seat by the former director of the No campaign in the 2014 referendum.

Scottish Labour members have selected Blair McDougall, who led the cross-party Better Together group, to fight Kirsten Oswald in East Renfrewshire.

The clash is set to be one of the most intense of the general election expected next year.

As well as the symbolism over the constitutional divide, the constituency is unpredictable, having changed hands between Labour, the SNP and Conservatives in the last decade. 

It was Tory-held from 1979 until Scottish Labour’s future leader Jim Murphy took it in 1997.

He lost it to Ms Oswald in the SNP tsunami of 2015, and she in turn lost it to Conservative Paul Masteron when the SNP suffered a Unionist backlash in 2017.

Mr McDougall, a former advisor to Mr Murphy, also contested the seat for Labour in 2017, when he came third, although only 7,150 votes separated him from the winner.

In 2019, Ms Oswald regained the constituency for the SNP, with Mr Masterton coming second and Labour trailing in a poor third.

Glasgow MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane is standing for the Tories at this general election.

The Herald:

In a post on social media, Mr McDougall said: “Thrilled to have been selected as Labour’s candidate for my home constituency of East Ren. I grew up here, live here and will fight like hell for the community I love.”

Ms Oswald, whose majority over the Tories was 5,426 in 2019, has been the SNP’s business convener - effectively party chair - for the last five years.

She was SNP deputy leader at Westminster from July 2020 to December 2022.

Scottish Labour also selected Unison official Johanna Baxter for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, where the SNP’s Mhairi Black is standing down.

Ms Baxter said: “Absolutely delighted to have been selected as Labour’s candidate for Paisley & Renfrewshire South! Thank you to everyone who has put their faith in me. This is going to be a tough fight but we’re going to work hard for every vote."