Party campaigning heats up as key Rutherglen by-election approaches

The by-election set to be held on Thursday has become a key battleground ahead of a potential general election next year.

Party campaigning heats up as key Rutherglen by-election approaches STV News

An SNP win in a key by-election this week would “send shockwaves through Westminster”, the party’s deputy leader has said.

Shona Robison said that if the party wins the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election on Thursday, it would make it clear the constituency rejects Tory Brexit and austerity measures.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie, meanwhile, urged voters to send a message to Scotland’s two “failing governments” by voting for a fresh start with Scottish Labour.

Tory candidate Councillor Thomas Kerr called on people to vote for him as he is “fully focused on Scotland’s real priorities.”

The by-election comes after the seat was vacated by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier following a successful recall petition after her conviction for breaching Covid restrictions in 2020.

It is expected to be an important battleground ahead of the UK general election, which is likely next year, with the SNP’s Katy Loudon taking on Labour’s Michael Shanks, Tory candidate Mr Kerr and others.

Robison said: “An SNP win in Rutherglen and Hamilton West will send shockwaves through Westminster and make it clear that we reject their Brexit and austerity measures – both of which have caused untold damage to Scotland.

“Electing Katy Loudon on October 5 will be another historic by-election win for the SNP, and will secure a strong local champion for the community – forcing Labour to rethink their Tory tribute act.

“Michael Shanks is nothing more than a Starmer yes-man, whereas Katy Loudon will take her orders from the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“An SNP win will deliver an MP committed to delivering a fairer, wealthier society and putting Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.”

Labour said it has put the cost-of-living crisis front and centre of the campaign.

It has set out plans to tackle the issue – including a clean energy plan that it said will save households up to £1,400 a year and a new deal for working people that it said would boost the minimum wage and make work pay.

Ms Baillie said: “From the cost-of-living crisis to the chaos in our NHS, Scotland is being catastrophically failed by both the SNP and the Tories.

“This week voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West can send our two failing governments a message by voting for a fresh start with Scottish Labour.

“This isn’t as good as it gets, and on Thursday Rutherglen and Hamilton West can lead the way demanding better for Scotland.”

Mr Shanks said the constituency has been left “voiceless in parliament” for too long.

He said: “I am ready to be the local champion this area deserves, relentlessly focused on the issues that matter to our community – from the cost-of-living crisis to the NHS.

“Only Scottish Labour can deliver the fresh start Rutherglen and Hamilton West deserves.”

Mr Kerr said voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West have a “stark choice” on Thursday.

He said: “By voting for myself – and the Scottish Conservatives – they will be voting for someone who grew up in similar communities to them and a MP who will be fully focused on Scotland’s real priorities.

“By sharp contrast, if the SNP candidate is elected, they will only be focused on relentlessly pursuing another divisive referendum, while Scottish Labour cannot seriously claim to represent change when you can barely put a cigarette paper between them and the SNP on so many issues.

“Only by voting Scottish Conservative in Rutherglen and Hamilton West can you ensure the full focus will be on people’s real priorities such as the global cost-of-living crisis and reducing NHS waiting times, as well as standing up to the independence-obsessed and out-of-touch SNP-Green Government.”

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