LABOUR has selected a teacher who quit the party four years ago over Brexit to be their candidate in a possible Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election. 

Michael Shanks, who lives in the constituency, saw off Glasgow doctor Greg Irwin, Aberdeen councillor Deena Tissera, and South Lanarkshire councillor Maureen Devlin, to be named as the party's pick in the seat currently held by disgraced MP Margaret Ferrier.

The contest has been dogged by claims of a Labour HQ stitch-up after the panel selecting candidates ruled out some of the local favourites, prompting accusations that they were attempting to clear the path for Mr Shanks.

Councillors Mo Razzaq, John Carson and trade unionist Leah Stalker all missed out. 

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The local Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) made a formal complaint about the process, writing to Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, claiming that members were concerned about the "integrity" of the selection. 

The CLPs called for a “full investigation.”

Party HQ defended the selection, with a spokesperson insisting that the process had been “properly administered in full accordance with procedures set by the Scottish Executive Committee.”

Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie and sole Scottish MP Ian Murray were on the selection panel for the constituency. 

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Mr Shanks said: “It is an honour to be selected by local members as the Scottish Labour candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“The people of this area have been failed by an out of touch SNP MP and have been left without a voice at Westminster.

“My campaign will champion the people here - so that together we can deliver the change this community badly needs."

Mr Sarwar said: “The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West are crying out for hope and change - and that is what Scottish Labour will deliver.

"Michael will be a fantastic local champion and campaigning MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.”

The possibility of a by-election in the constituency seems likely. 

In March, Parliament’s Standards Committee called for the current MP Margaret Ferrier to be suspended from the Commons for 30 days over Covid rule breaches. 

She has appealed the decision. 

However, if that appeal fails and if, as likely, MPs back the sanction, it will automatically trigger a recall petition. 

If 10% of eligible registered voters sign the petition within six weeks, Ms Ferrier loses her seat and a byelection is necessary.

The constituency is one of Scottish Labour’s top five targets.

The SNP is hopeful of retaining the seat they won in 2019. A party source told The Herald names of potential candidates would be going in front of local members in the coming days. 

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It’s not Mr Shanks’s first election. He has stood three times for Labour and holds the dubious honour of being the party's only unsuccessful candidate in Glasgow at the 2012 local elections.

However, in a 2019 blog post, he revealed he had walked away from Labour when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

He wrote on the day of the European election: “The truth is for more than 15 years the Labour party has been a home for me.

"It’s where I’ve made some of my best friends, where I’ve had the privilege to stand for election three times and where I’ve shared with countless others our values of compassion, solidarity, social justice and opportunity for all.”

“It has become impossible to reconcile the state of the party is currently in with those core values.

"A party that has such a bankrupt approach to our membership of the EU and is complacent about the impact it will have on the poorest people across the UK does not share those values.

“A party that has been woefully inadequate in tackling antisemitism time and time and time again does not have those values at its core.

"And aside from all that, it’s a party that seems oblivious to how utterly unelectable it has become.”

Sir Keir has ruled out rejoining the EU, saying a Labour government will instead "make Brexit work."