TWO long-serving SNP MSPs face selection contests for their seats as challengers emerged.

James Dornan has represented Glasgow Cathcart since 2011, while colleague Kenneth Gibson has held his Cunninghame North constituency since 2007. Now both must go through a selection race after rivals told the party they want to run in 2021 instead.

Serving North Lanarkshire councillor Junaid Ashraf will now ask SNP members in Glasgow Cathcart to back him, while former Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock MP Corri Wilson will do the same in Cunninghame North. The news comes as the window for declarations of interest in specific constituencies closes.

Ashraf, who represents Cumbernauld South, said: “Growing up in the Southside of Glasgow, I know too well of the inequalities present in Scotland that independence would allow us to fully tackle.

“Coming from a family that owns a small business, I know first-hand of the damage Covid-19 has caused to our local businesses and the financial levers needed through independence we require full use of as a nation.

“As a councillor for the SNP for the last three politically turbulent years, I am an experienced candidate to face the challenges that lie ahead of us as a party and movement as we come up against Better Together once again.”

Dornan, who has served the area for almost a decade-and-a-half between council and parliament, had initially indicated he’d stand down in 2021 before re-thinking that decision.

He said: “It’s great to see young councillors from a Bame background who are confident enough to put themselves forwards for selection and election. However, I’d like to think that my record as an elected representative for the Cathcart area of 14 years would stand me in good stead when it comes to the selection process.”

Wilson was part of “the 56” sent by Scotland to the House of Commons for the SNP in 2015. She lost her Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock seat in the snap contest called by Theresa May in 2017.

Gibson secured 51.9% of the vote at the last election – leaving the second-placed Tories far behind on 24.6%. But earlier this month office bearers from the SNP’s Cunninghame North Constituency Association had called for all the party’s incumbents to face a selection contest.

Wilson said: “Whilst it’s not easy unseating a sitting MSP, it is right members have a choice. I’m sure if Kenneth has been doing a good job then he will have nothing to fear and will welcome the contest.

“If not, having worked with many activists from North Ayrshire over the last few years it’s clear to me there is an excellent, experienced group of committed people who want to be part of our journey going forward and I welcome that.”

Gibson said: “I relish the challenge. However, one wonders why Ms Wilson is trying to unseat a colleague when one of the two Holyrood seats she represented at Westminster – before losing her seat and failing to be re-selected last year – is vacant now Jeane Freeman is standing down. The other, Ayr, where she lives, has a Tory majority of only 750.”

Hopefuls declared for seats all over the country yesterday, with Abdul Bostani, an Afghan refugee and chair of the Scottish Unity League, entering the race for East Kilbride, where Linda Fabiani is stepping down. Coatbridge South councillor Tracy Carragher confirmed her interest in Uddingston and Bellshill as Richard Lyle retires.