Labour celebrates 'seismic' win in Scotland's first recall by-election

The result represents a 20.4% swing to Labour which won 58.6% of the total vote share.

Labour has overwhelmingly won Scotland’s first recall by-election with Sir Keir Starmer hailing the victory as “seismic”.

Michael Shanks was declared Scotland’s newest MP as Labour triumphed over the SNP at the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

The victory represents a 20.4% swing to Labour which won 58.6% of the total vote share with the SNP and Tory votes collapsing.

The party won a massive victory on Friday morning with 17,845 votes – more than double the SNP’s Katy Loudon with 8,399 ballots.

If the same swing was replicated in a general election then Labour could return 40 Scottish MPs to Westminster.

‘Scotland are sick of two failing governments’

Scottish Labour candidate Michael Shanks (R) and Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar arrive at the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election count.Getty Images

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer hailed the result as “seismic”.

Speaking to journalists from Labour’s HQ in Rutherglen, he said: “It was a big step in the right direction, an important one.

“This was a must-win for us, and the size of the win, I think, vindicates the positive campaign that we ran.

“But we accept this humbly, this is a step on the journey.

“We’ve made the case for change here in Rutherglen, we need to make the case for change across the whole of Scotland, and earn all of the votes.

“But, as I have said many, many times, the route to a Labour election win at the next general election runs through Scotland, because if I’m privileged to serve I want to be the prime minister for the whole of the United Kingdom, not just of the United Kingdom.”

Major swing to Labour in Rutherglen and Hamilton West

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (2nd, R), Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar (2nd, L) attend a campaign event with Scottish Labour’s candidate for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election Michael Shanks (C) on September 29, 2023 in Hamilton.Getty Images

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the result showed Scots are “sick of two tired, failing, incompetent governments”.

“They’re desperate for a fresh start, they’re desperate for a change,” he said.

He added: “Scotland will lead the way in delivering a UK-wide Labour government.”

‘A disappointing night for the SNP’

First Minister Humza Yousaf with SNP candidate for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election Katy Loudon.Getty Images

First Minister Humza Yousaf made frequent visits to the constituency during the election campaign, stressed his party was facing “some very difficult circumstances”.

But he said the buck would stop from him if his party failed to hold on to the seat, and afterwards he conceded it had been a “disappointing night” for the SNP.

The result will pile more pressure on SNP leader who has seen his party’s fortunes decline in the polls in the wake of the ongoing police investigation in SNP finances.

SNP will ‘listen to voters’ after ‘disappointing night’

“I want to thank our exceptional candidate Katy Loudon SNP and our activists for their incredible efforts,” he wrote on social media.

“Let me also congratulate Michael Shanks on being elected. Circumstances of this by-election were always very difficult for us.

“Collapse in the Tory vote, which went straight to Labour, also a significant factor. We lost this seat in 2017, and like 2019 we can win this seat back.

“However, we will reflect on what we have to do to regain the trust of the people of Rutherglen & Hamilton West.”

Labour doubles representation in Scotland

Modern studies teacher Shanks will join Ian Murray at Westminster doubling Scottish Labour’s representation in the House of Commons by becoming the party’s second MP.

Shanks said it will be the “honour of my life” to serve as the Member of Parliament for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“Thank you to all those who helped deliver this result,” he said.

“The largest thanks goes to all those who have put their trust in me. My promise in return is a simple one: I will be your champion.”

Shanks said people are “once again listening to the Scottish Labour Party.”

“Change is possible,” he added.

The result of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election is called

The seat was previously won by Margaret Ferrier in 2019 when she ran as a candidate for the SNP.

Some 23,775 people voted for Ferrier at that ballot where she won 44.2% of the vote.

The politician was ousted from the party after breaking Covid rules by travelling between London and Glasgow after testing positive for the virus.

A successful recall petition – a first in Scotland – sparked the by-election which has seen constant campaigning from candidates over several months.

Anas Sarwar and Michael Shanks at the Hamilton count.STV News

Voter turnout at the ballot was low at 37.19%, with 30,531 votes cast. Some 82,104 people were eligible to vote in the election.

The Scottish Conservatives lost their deposit, winning only 3.9% of the vote (1,192).

The full results

Michael Shanks (Lab) 17,845 (58.55%, +24.08%)

Katy Loudon (SNP) 8,399 (27.56%, -16.64%)

Thomas Kerr (C) 1,192 (3.91%, -11.06%)

Gloria Adebo (LD) 895 (2.94%, -2.25%)

Cameron Eadie (Green) 601 (1.97%)

David Stark (Reform) 403 (1.32%)

Niall Fraser (Scot Family) 319 (1.05%)

Bill Bonnar (SSP) 271 (0.89%)

Colette Walker (IFS) 207 (0.68%)

Christopher Sermanni (TUSC) 178 (0.58%)

Andrew Daly (Ind) 81 (0.27%)

Ewan Hoyle (Volt) 46 (0.15%)

Emperor of India Prince Ankit Love (ND) 34 (0.11%)

Garry Cooke (ND) 6 (0.02%)

Lab maj 9,446 (30.99%)

20.36% swing SNP to Lab

Electorate 82,104; Turnout 30,477 (37.12%, -29.36%)

2019 results

SNP majority of 5,230 (9.72%) – Turnout 53,794 (66.48%)

Ferrier (SNP) 23,775 (44.20%); Killen (Lab Co-op) 18,545 (34.47%);

Nailon (C) 8,054 (14.97%); McGeever (LD) 2,791 (5.19%); Mackay (UKIP)
629 (1.17%)

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