So far five SNP members have thrown their hat into the ring to be in with a chance of being picked as the SNP candidate for the constituency, but as the Reporter went to press one nominee, Palestine activist Hasan Nowarah, said he had withdrawn his nomination.

The remaining nominees include Glasgow University politics and public policy student Mhairi Black; Glasgow City Council SNP councillor Martin Docherty; owner of Glasgow’s Yesbar Suzanne McLaughlin; and freelance journalist John Nicolson.

In a hustings event at the Concord Centre in Dumbarton on Thursday, members heard the applicants make their pitch for candidacy at a members-only meeting.

Dumbarton SNP branch convener Iain Robertson said: “We had five valid nominees who spoke at the hustings.

“Members will be balloted with one member, one vote and we hope to have a candidate in place by mid-February.” West Dunbartonshire was one area which saw a huge increase in SNP members following last year’s independence referendum and there are currently more than 15,000 members across Clydebank, Alexandria, and Dumbarton.

The nominees have also put forward their case in the Reporter.

Mhairi Black – 2014 was a huge year for Scotland, the SNP and our independence movement. West Dunbartonshire was one of the few constituencies to vote Yes, and should continue to be incredibly proud of that. Due to the hard work and dedication of local activists, not just in West Dunbartonshire, but all over Scotland we won the hearts and minds of over 1.5million Scots. Sadly, however, this was not enough to get us across the finishing line, but we have travelled a long way.

May’s general election is the next chance to ensure Scotland’s voice is still heard and that the enthusiasm and passion of the referendum is not lost, but instead used positively to secure victory for the SNP. A victory I am sure will in turn help lead us to independence in the not too distant future. Through the incredible and tireless work done in West Dunbartonshire, I can think of no other constituency that deserves the very best candidate. We need a candidate with the skill and the capability to challenge the neo-liberal, right wing road that Scotland is being dragged down by the unionist parties. We need someone who understands working class families and their communities of which Westminster policies are destroying. West Dunbartonshire deserves to be represented by someone who understands the heartache and poverty that is plaguing far too many homes within Scotland, and will challenge the multi-millionaire career politicians of London. I believe I am someone more than capable of doing that.

Martin Docherty – No matter whom SNP members choose as their candidate I will campaign vigorously for the party and the cause of our communities’ independence in the General Election.

Given that I have only sought the candidacy of West Dunbartonshire, I have been honoured in the last few weeks to have been nominated by all the three branches of my political home West Dunbartonshire – Clydebank, Dumbarton, and the Vale of Leven.

“This campaign is personal. It is about representing the community which has informed my politics, in which I was a former SNP councillor, the community which I have been born into and worked most of my working life and whose experiences – good and bad – I share.

Of that work, I am most proud of the time I spent in West Dunbartonshire helping our community groups and community volunteers - finding them funding, offering them direction and support; community groups on the front line supporting West Dunbartonshire’s most vulnerable people. Our community faces an austerity agenda that has only just begun and can only be stopped by the community coming together as we did during the referendum, speaking up for the most vulnerable, those finding each day more difficult. Now our greatest defence is returning as many SNP MPs. West Dunbartonshire can do it.

I’m delighted to have the support of Scottish Social Justice Minister Alex Neil, Sport and Health Improvement Minister Jamie Hepburn, SNP Group Leader West Dunbartonshire Council, Jonathan McColl and MSPs Sandra White, Gil Paterson, and Bill Kidd.

John Nicolson – There’s a mood in Scotland to send a new type of MP to Westminster MPs who aren’t killing time waiting for seats in the Lords.

I was educated at Glasgow University – and was the Scottish and World Student debating champion. I then won a scholarship to Harvard.

I began my career as speechwriter for Senator Moynihan of New York, before being asked by the BBC to return home to Glasgow. I’ve gone on to report for programmes including Newsnight and Panorama and present BBC Breakfast, ITV News, and BBC News 24 where I was on air throughout the Twin Towers bombing.

I was active in the referendum campaign on the doorstep, on air, and in print. I wrote for the National Collective. I argued for a Yes vote in STV’s Glasgow University independence debate. I interviewed Alex Salmond for the SNP’s Facebook event, the largest in political history.

Inspired by the campaign, I joined the SNP candidate list.

Following the referendum I travelled round Scotland chairing Nicola Sturgeon’s tour – including the Glasgow Hydro spectacular. I’ve talked to hundreds of ex-Labour voters who, tired of politics as usual, want to keep up the pressure on Westminster. They – rightly – see our party as principled and the vehicle for much needed change.

2015 will be a momentous election. With a hung parliament likely, we need a strong group of MPs to fight Scotland’s corner. I would be honoured to be part of that group as the SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire.

Suzanne McLaughlin did not respond to requests for comment.