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Mr MacNeil, seen on his croft earlier this year, is currently sitting as an independent MP. Photograph: Robert Sinclair

Two candidates have been placed before members of the Scottish National Party in the Western Isles, as the local branch seeks a candidate to oppose sitting MP Angus Brendan MacNeil at a forthcoming General Election.

But the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency SNP branch has sent Mr MacNeil himself a ballot paper to select the nominee he would prefer to oppose, giving him the chance to publicly mock his former party.

Mr MacNeil, a Barra native and resident, has been elected as SNP MP for the constituency at every election since 2005, when he became one of only six SNP representatives at Westminster, after ousting Scottish Labour’s Calum Macdonald.

But in July this year he was suspended from the party after a heated exchange in the House of Commons with SNP party chief whip Brendan O’Hara.

He subsequently declined to resume his seat as an SNP representative, saying that he preferred to concentrate on the pursuit of Scottish independence.

He has since continued to serve as an independent MP and has made it clear he intends to stand in 2024’s election, though not whether he will represent any party.

Meanwhile the local SNP constituency has been in search of an alternative candidate and have now put two names before the Na h-Eileanan an Iar membership – which apparently still includes Mr MacNeil.

Listed on the ballot paper are potential candidates Angus MacLeod and Susan Thomson, each prepared to throw their hat into the ring for a Westminster seat.

Angus MacNeil MP was sent a ballot to choose the SNP candidate. Photograph: Angus MacNeil

Ms Thomson would, if selected, be the third woman to stand for the SNP in the islands, after Frances Macfarlane and Anne Lorne Gillies.  Scottish Labour candidates have included Alison MacCorquodale and Ealasaid MacDonald, while the Conservatives have offered Jennifer Ross and Sheena Norquay the opportunity to campaign here. Scottish Liberal Democrats have had one female candidate, Jean Davis, who took 7.5% of the vote in 2010. This is a marked contrast with the all-male elected make-up at Council level.  

Now SNP members have been given one week to indicate their preferred party candidate for 2024, with a deadline of this Friday, 15 December, to return their vote.

Publicising his ‘spoilt’ ballot paper yesterday, Mr MacNeil used a laughter emoji and added his own name to the list before voting for himself.

The pictures show Angus Brendan MacNeil shearing sheep on his croft earlier this year (Robert Sinclair) and his spoilt party candidate ballot paper (Angus B MacNeil).