SNP 'civil war spilling over' as frontbenchers forced into public fight


Local party members will vote to decide who will claim the seat

Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 22/09/2023

- 14:22

Updated: 22/09/2023

- 13:51

Alison Thewliss and David Linden are fighting it out for the seat of Glasgow East

Two senior SNP MPs are set to battle it out to be the party's candidate for a constituency, with boundary changes set to scrap their current seats.

Alison Thewliss, the party’s Home Affairs spokesperson at Westminster and David Linden, the Social Justice spokesman will go to head-to-head for Glasgow East.

Thewliss, who is a loyal follower of First Minister Humza Yousaf, has put herself as a candidate for the seat.

Meanwhile Linden, who is close to Stephen Flynn, the party leader in London, already had his name down for the post.

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If Thewliss wins the seat, it would destabilise the leadership in the Commons as she would take the seat off of long-serving SNP Linden, who has held the seat since 2017.

If Linden lost his seat, Flynn would lose one of his closest allies in Scotland.

Thewliss' decision to try for the Glasgow East seat, could be seen as a deliberate provocation of a fellow SNP MP, according to the Times.

Last year, Flynn took Ian Blackford's place as Westminster leader. Blackford said his decision to leave was prompted by a looming "challenge” from his fellow MPs, though his colleagues have denied any such plot.

Linden's close relationship with London Westminster leader Flynn.

The seat is a key target seat for Labour.

Dame Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour deputy leader, said: “Thewliss and Linden going head to head for the Glasgow East seat shows that the SNP’s secret civil war is spilling out for all to see.

“The fact is that this is a deeply divided party with MPs challenging one another in a desperate attempt to save their jobs.”


Changes to boundaries mean that Glasgow will lose a constituency at the next election, resulting in Thewliss’ Glasgow Central seat ceasing to exist.

Thewliss therefore needs to find a new seat, and it was expected that she would have tried to claim the Glasgow North seat.

The seat will not have an SNP in it, after Patrick Grady failed vetting.

He was suspended from the Commons after drunkenly touching a teenage staffer.

Thewliss has put herself forward for both seats but is said to be focusing her efforts more on the eastern seat.

Linden and Sturgeon

Linden has been the Glasgow East MP since 2017


Her decision to push for Glasgow East rather than Glasgow North has left many perplexed.

“Local party members are baffled by Alison’s decision,” one source told the paper. “The expectation among everyone – from the first minister down – was that with Patrick Grady not standing there was a good chance Alison would be standing in the north. Most members just find it a bit odd because David Linden is already in Glasgow East.”

It is understood that Thewliss prefers the seat as it compromises more of her former Glasgow Central area.

Linden has been the Glasgow East MP since 2017. He currently holds 65 per cent of the electorate.

"I’m going to focus on fighting for independence, fighting plans for increased capacity at the landfill in the east end and getting on with the job,” Linden said.

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