Keir Starmer joins campaign trail of Scotland's first recall by-election

Voters in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency go to the polls next week to elect a successor to Margaret Ferrier.

Keir Starmer joins campaign trail of Scotland’s first recall by-election STV News

Labour is “ready to serve” the people of the UK again, leader Sir Keir Starmer will insist as he joins the campaign trail ahead of Scotland’s first recall by-election.

He will say that recapturing the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat, which was won by Margaret Ferrier for the SNP in 2019, will put the two “failing” governments at Holyrood and Westminster “on notice”.

Voters in the constituency go to the polls next week to elect a successor to Ferrier, and Starmer will declare the by-election to be of “monumental significance”.

With the contest a straight fight between Labour and the SNP – who won the seat in the last general election only for Ferrier to be suspended from the party the following year after breaking Covid rules – Starmer is making a campaigning visit to the constituency on Friday.

Earlier this week, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf declared that the buck stops with him if the party fails to hold on to the seat.

The constituency has switched between Labour and the SNP in the last four UK general elections, with Yousaf accepting his party faces “some very difficult circumstances in this seat, given Margaret Ferrier’s actions”.

Starmer, who will campaign with Labour candidate Michael Shanks, will stress to voters there is “another way – the Labour way”.

He is expected to say: “This by-election is of monumental significance.

“For far too long the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have been let down by two incompetent governments that don’t speak for you, and a rule-breaking MP who refused to do the right thing.

“Next Thursday, voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West can say enough is enough. You can vote for change and you can elect a local champion in Michael Shanks who will put our two failing governments on notice.

“Labour is once again the party of working people and ready to serve the people of the UK.

“We can tackle the cost-of-living crisis, put money in working people’s pockets and make work pay.”

Starmer will stress the importance of “respect for a day’s graft” – accusing SNP candidate Katy Loudon of hiring workers on zero hours contracts.

This, he will say, “runs totally counter to the asks of people across Rutherglen and Hamilton West for security in work, secure family finances, and fairness in exchange for hard work”.

He will state: “The fact is that there is another way – the Labour way. We were founded to seek power and use it to serve working people, and we will do it again.”

But Ms Loudon said: “Keir Starmer has a brass neck turning up to Rutherglen and Hamilton West after he – and his pro-Brexit Labour Party – have shamefully stayed silent over cost of living support, and offered no meaningful policies to help people through this crisis.

“Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar have had ample opportunity to show they will stand up for people in this constituency by backing the SNP’s calls for an energy rebate and tax relief for mortgage holders – but they’ve refused to do so every time.

“Right now, all that is on offer from Labour is the Tory status quo. As an SNP MP, I will always stand up against Westminster austerity and work for the real cost of living support for people across this community.”

Meanwhile it is understood the SNP outsourced the distribution of one of its leaflets in the campaign to a third party business, with the party now said to be reviewing its distribution arrangements.

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