SNP admits it has ‘work to do’ as Labour hails ‘seismic’ victory in Scottish by-election

Labour has triumphed in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, with leader Sir Keir Starmer hailing a “seismic result” for his party north of the border.

The result sees Michael Shanks replace MP Margaret Ferrier, who was ousted from her party (the SNP) and then her seat in August after a successful recall petition for breaching COVID restrictions during lockdown in 2020.

Michael Shanks received 17,845 votes compared to SNP candidate Katy Loudon’s 8,399. Every other candidate lost their deposit. 

Out of the 82,104 electorate, a total of 30,531 votes were cast (37.19 per cent turnout).

The by-election saw a swing of 20.4 per cent to Labour, a fact which Sir Keir Starmer will interpret as proof of a Labour recovery in Scotland.

The result, if replicated in a general election, could lead to a virtual clean sweep north of the border.

Speaking to Sky News after his win, Labour candidate Shanks said: “There’s absolutely no doubt that this result shows that there’s no part of the United Kingdom that Labour can’t win.

“It’s been a long time in Scotland – Labour building back to a place where people can trust us again.”

The SNP’s defeat in Rutherglen and Hamilton West marks its first by-election loss in 16 years.

Sir John Curtice told BBC Scotland News it was a “remarkably good result” for Sir Keir Starmer’s party, adding: “If this kind of swing were to be replicated across Scotland as a whole you’d be talking about the Labour Party quite clearly being the dominant party north of the border.”

Scottish Conservatives came in third place, with candidate Thomas Kerr polling 1,192 ahead of Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate Gloria Adebo, and Scottish Green Party candidate Cameron Eadie who secured 895 and 601 votes respectively.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown has admitted that his party has “work to do” ahead of the next general election, which will be held next year.

“Of course it’s a challenge”, Mr Brown told reporters after the result was announced.

“I do feel confident, if we can get the offer right, then rather than the declining, managed decline of the UK, its economy and so on, one of the most unequal countries in the world, we can move forward to a brighter future with independence.

“But we have to get the offer right and we’ve got work to do.”

Meanwhile, an SNP MP has urged “calm heads” in the wake of the party’s defeat at the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

David Linden, the party’s spokesman for social justice at Westminster, claimed on X, formerly Twitter, that commentators were getting “wildly carried away” about the significance of the swing.

He said the SNP won Glasgow East in 2008 with a swing of 22.5 percentage points, only for Labour to re-take the seat at the general election two years later with a swing of 18.5 points.

Linden also told Politico: “The seat has swung back and forth like a pendulum at every election since 2010. Onwards to the general election, where I expect a very different result.”