The Scottish Labour Party achieved a decisive win against the Scottish National Party in a significant by-election on Friday morning, with hopes of a broader resurgence in the upcoming general election.
Michael Shanks, the candidate for the Labour party, was victorious in the election for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency, receiving 58.5 percent of the vote. This was a significant increase from the previous election, with a swing of 20.4 percent, while the SNP only received 27.5 percent of the vote. Although it was predicted that Labour would regain this seat, their margin of victory was impressive.
A special election was called to fill the vacant House of Commons position after Margaret Ferrier, a local Member of Parliament, was ousted by her constituents. This was a result of her breaking COVID rules multiple times in 2020, causing anger and leading to her removal from the SNP.
The Scottish Labour party is targeting this seat, hoping to challenge the dominance of the Scottish National Party in Scotland.
The Labour party used to be a strong force in Scotland, but has faced difficulties in regaining ground lost to the SNP with a series of leaders. However, with current leader Anas Sarwar and the rise of Keir Starmer’s popularity in the entire UK, Labour’s standing in public opinion has shown improvement.
“I view this as a major moment, a significant moment in Scotland’s political history,” stated Sarwar to reporters during the vote count in Hamilton.
Jackie Baillie, the deputy leader, shared the same opinion and also stated to BBC that the significant margin of success puts Labour in a strong position in 42 Scottish seats. Prior to the by-election outcome, Scottish Labour only held one out of 59 constituencies in Scotland, while SNP held 44.
A resurgence of support for the Labour party in Scotland is also beneficial for U.K. leader Starmer. It would greatly improve his chances of achieving a parliamentary majority in the upcoming election next year.
“I have consistently emphasized the importance of regaining the trust of the people in Scotland. This triumph tonight is the result of three and a half years of dedication and modesty on our journey towards that goal,” Starmer stated.
The outcome is a setback for Humza Yousaf, the newly appointed leader of the SNP, as he strives to move his divided, pro-independence party forward. The ongoing police probe into the party’s financial affairs has cast a shadow over his initial months in the position. SNP members may view the low voter turnout of only 37 percent in the by-election as a positive indication that they are facing less turmoil than the initial outcome appears.