THE head of the anti-independence Scotland in Union campaign has failed in a bid to get her old job back as an MP.

Pamela Nash last night lost a two-horse race to choose the Labour candidate for the Westminster byelection in Airdrie & Shotts.

Despite being the MP for the seat from 2010 to 2015, Ms Nash was passed over by local party members in favour of North Lanarkshire councillor Kenny Stevenson.

Insiders said Ms Nash was “unhappy” about the result, however others said the pair were good friends.

The byelection, which will be held on May 13, was triggered by the resignation of SNP MP Neil Gray, who is standing to be the MSP for the equivalent Holyrood seat.

The SNP has selected modern studies teacher Anum Qaisar-Javed, a former Labour activist who switched parties over independence, as its byelection candidate.

She will be defending a healthy SNP majority of 5,201.

Ms Nash, 36, has been the chief executive of Scotland in Union since August 2017.

The Labour selection started as a four-way contest between her, Cllr Stevenson, former Westminster candidate Helen McFarlane and activist Chris Costello. 

It is understood Ms McFarlane and Mr Costello dropped out.

Sources said Mr Costello, who worked for Labour MSP Elaine Smith and is a candidate on the Central Scotland list for Holyrood, then backed Mr Stevenson, helping him secure his win over Ms Nash.

Ms Nash’s rejection contrasts with the recent fortunes of other failed Labour MPs.

Martin Whitfield, who gained East Lothian to the SNP in 2017 then lost it in 2019, has been selected to stand for the equivalent Holyrood seat in May.

The vacancy there was caused by former Scottish Labour Iain Gray retiring as an MSP.

Meanwhile Ged Killen, who gained Rutherglen & Hamilton West from the SNP in 2017 then lost it in 2019, has been selected as Labour’s candidate in case of a byelection.

The seat is currently held by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier, who was disowned by her party after breaking Covid lockdown rules, but has refused to stand down.

Mr Killen was picked in case Ms Ferrier quit and forced a contest for the seat.

Cllr Mr Stevenson said: “I am delighted to have been selected as Scottish Labour’s candidate for the Airdrie and Shotts by-election.

"I have lived my whole life in North Lanarkshire and I have been proud to serve as a Scottish Labour councillor, putting Labour values into action on a daily basis.

“I look forward to taking Labour’s distinctive message of a National Recovery Plan to the people of Airdrie and Shotts in this by-election.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “I’d like to congratulate Kenneth on his achievement and I very much look forward to campaigning with him so we can deliver an MP who is committed to standing up for the community.

“Only Scottish Labour will focus on delivering the National Recovery Plan that this country needs.”