Recall petition ousts Margaret Ferrier as an MP

The recall petition recently held in the constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West has generated enough support to remove the sitting MP and trigger a by-election in the seat.

During the last 6 weeks, over 11,896 (14.7%) of the electorate in Rutherglen and Hamilton West signed the petition.  This was well in excess of the 8,113 signatures required (10% of the electorate) to trigger a contest. At the point that this result was  notified to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the seat became vacant.

The recall petition became possible following Ms Ferrier being suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days.  Ms Ferrier, who was elected in 2019 as an SNP MP, was ruled to have damaged the reputation of the House of Commons, and to have put people at risk, by participating in a debate and travelling to Scotland by train, whilst suffering from Covid19 in September 2020.

Ms Ferrier was later charged by the police, and having admitting recklessly exposing the public to the risk of infection, she was subsequently ordered to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work

This is the third time in history that an MP has faced a recall petition.  In two of these occasions (Peterborough in 2019, and Brecon and Radnorshire in 2019), the 10% threshold was reached and a by-election was subsequently triggered.   In 2018, Ian Paisley Jr MP survived a recall petition in North Antrim when only 9.4% of the electorate signed a recall petition.

The impending by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West is likely to be held in early October.  The contest will be seen as an important bell-weather for the current state of Scottish politics, with the ballot being the first electoral test faced by the new SNP leader, Humza Yousaf.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency is located in South Lanarkshire on the outskirts of Greater Glasgow.  A mixed constituency in which there is a 15 minute rail connection into Glasgow, the seat contains affluent commuter districts in Hamilton and Blantyre, alongside a large public housing estate in Hillhead.

The recent electoral history of this seat has been volatile. The SNP gained the seat by nearly 10,000 votes in 2015, only to lose it back to Labour by 265 votes in 2017, and then win it back again comfortably in 2019.

Katy Loudon, a local SNP councillor, has been selected to contest the seat for the SNP. Michael Shanks, a local teacher, has been selected by Labour.