SCOTTISH Labour has been accused of a “stitch up” to help secure a Westminster candidacy for a schoolmate and neighbour of leader Anas Sarwar.

The party is facing questions over the shortlisting process for its Glasgow South West seat, where members are due to pick a general election candidate tomorrow.

Left-wing Glasgow City Councillor Matt Kerr, who was Labour’s candidate in the seat in 2017 and 2019, failed vetting, effectively leaving the way clear for the other main contender, privately-educated surgeon Dr Zubir Ahmed.

Dr Ahmed, a contemporary of Mr Sarwar’s at Hutchesons’ Grammar, recently bought one of the most expensive homes in Glasgow a few streets from the party leader.

He and his wife, who is also a doctor, bought the four-storey, seven-bedroom detached villa for £1.2million just over a year ago.

Under Scottish Labour rules, constituencies are paired to help ensure gender balance, and Glasgow South West is paired with Glasgow Central.

The four nominees for both seats are Dr Ahmed, local Glasgow councillor Rashid Hussain, Aberdeen City Councillor Deena Tissera and activist Roisin McKenna.

Members from both seats will cast one vote in the female section and one vote in the male section and the candidate with the most votes will choose where to stand.

The person of the opposite sex who comes second can then stand in the other seat.

However Glasgow Central is due to be abolished by boundary changes later this year, and so the race is for the single seat of Glasgow South West, Mr Sarwar’s powerbase.

Deputy Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie is in charge of vetting candidates and chaired the four-person panel which refused to let Cllr Kerr go forward for shortlisting.

In 2020, Mr Kerr challenged Ms Baillie for the deputy leadership of Scottish Labour and got 42 per cent of the vote.

The panel unanimously agreed to fail him because he had defied the whip at the city council, including refusing to vote with his party on the budget because of cuts.

Senior Labour insiders claim Mr Kerr’s discipline record was the reason for him failing vetting, not his left-wing beliefs or challenging Ms Baillie for the deputy leadership.

However Mr Kerr’s supporters are in no doubt that he was treated unfairly.

They point out that even after refusing to vote for the budget, he was allowed to go forward as a council candidate last year, and won re-election.

Yet it is only now that he has failed vetting.

One Labour source said he had been “f***ed over” because he was on the Left of the party.

The source said: “It’s a stitch-up. He came within 10 per cent of beating Jackie Baillie for the deputy leadership, so he clearly comes up to the standard expected by party members. Yet he doesn’t come up to Jackie’s standard? The reality is that the Left has been routed. People aren’t even coming forward because they think there’s no point.”

Another said: “He failed vetting because he’s on the Left and that’s it.”

The son of a taxi cab driver, Dr Ahmed, 41, was brought up in Govanhill in the southside of Glasgow, the oldest of five children.

He was educated at Hutchesons Grammar two years ahead of Mr Sarwar, part of the final year class of 1999, while Mr Sarwar was class of 2001.

The father-of-two failed to get elected to Holyrood in 2021 after standing against SNP health secretary Humza Yousaf in Glasgow Pollok.

Although he increased Labour’s share of the vote by 1.1 percent and the SNP’s expense, Mr Yousaf improved his majority from 6,482 to 7,105.

In 2017 Cllr Kerr reduced the majority of the SNP’s Chris Stephens from almost 10,000 to just 60, however in 2019 the SNP recovered and Mr Stephen’s lead was 4,900.

Scottish Labour declined to comment.