- The Labor Party wins 20% of the vote in a huge by-election victory
- Leader Starmer is preparing for next year’s national elections
- The SNP cites “difficult circumstances” following the sacking of the lawmaker
LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labor Party won a bigger-than-expected victory in an election for a parliamentary seat in Scotland on Friday, raising expectations that it can oust Scottish nationalists and go on to win the expected UK-wide vote. Next year.
Labor is ahead of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives in national opinion polls, but will likely need to regain much of the ground it has lost to the SNP in Scotland over the past decade if it is to return to government at Westminster after 13 years. absence.
“This is a seismic result. People in Rutherglen and Hamilton West have sent a clear message that it is time for change. They clearly believe this changed Labor Party can deliver,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said in a statement.
The by-elections were called for an area located on the outskirts of Glasgow after MP Margaret Ferrer was stripped of her seat in the London Parliament for violating coronavirus rules.
Labor candidate Michael Shanks received 17,845 votes, beating second-placed SNP candidate Katie Loudon, who received 8,399 votes, marking a swing to Labor from the SNP of 20%.
John Curtis, Britain’s leading pollster, said it was a “fantastic result” for the Labor Party, which comes on the eve of its annual conference next week.
He told BBC Radio: “Volatility in by-elections on this scale is the kind of volatility that the opposition has achieved, at least historically, when heading towards victory in the next general election.”
“If Keir Starmer can start winning seats in Scotland, his chances of getting an overall majority and avoiding a hung parliament will increase dramatically.”
Ferrer was one of a wave of SNP politicians who expelled Labor from its Scottish heartland in 2015.
She tested positive for the coronavirus in September 2020 after speaking in the British House of Commons. Instead of isolating as was mandatory at the time, she took a train more than 400 miles to Scotland.
Ferrer was suspended from her party and has since remained independent before being removed by a petition filed by her constituents in August.
Scottish National Party leader Humza Yousaf said it was a “disappointing night”, adding that “the circumstances of this by-election have always been very difficult for us”, referring to Ferrer’s behaviour.
Labor hopes the result will mark the beginning of a political comeback in Scotland.
It lost all but one of its Scottish seats in 2015 to the SNP, with the nationalists retaining the support of pro-independence voters following a 2014 referendum in which Scots voted to remain part of the United Kingdom by 55% to 45%.
After Labor regained Rutherglen and Hamilton West with an improved performance in Scotland in 2017, the party again lost all but one Scottish seat in 2019. The SNP won Rutherglen and Hamilton West by a majority of 5,230 seats in 2019.
Opinion polls show Labor can Drawing level With the Scottish National Party winning or even winning the most seats in Scotland for the first time since 2010 following the resignation of long-time SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and a police investigation into the party’s finances.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Additional writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Jamie Freed, Michael Perry and Toby Chopra
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