Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar will today address the party’s annual conference just days after it recorded a key by-election victory at the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.
The result saw 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.
Shanks received 17,845 votes compared to SNP candidate Katy Loudon’s 8,399. 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.
In total, Labour took 58% of the vote at the by-election count in South Lanarkshire on Thursday night.
The result, experts explained, if replicated in a general election, could lead to a virtual clean sweep north of the border.
Today, Scottish Labour leader Sarwar will reaffirm that he believes his party can beat the SNP in seats “across Scotland” at the next general election.
He will tell the Labour Party conference: “Now no SNP MP can sit safely, taking their communities for granted as so many have”.
Addressing the Scottish first minister directly, Sarwar will say “So I say to Humza Yousaf: This isn’t about swings or the polls – this is about putting the people of Scotland first.
“And because you won’t do that – we can beat you across Scotland.
“Every community in Scotland now has the chance to choose change with Scottish Labour.”
He will also say that the SNP has chosen to “blame the voters” for their loss.
“The result in Rutherglen and Hamilton West showed something I’ve long suspected, and that I imagine the SNP have long feared”, he will tell delegates.
“The cracks in the foundations of the SNP are deeper and wider than they’ve ever recognised and while senior nationalists have lined up in TV studios to blame the voters – they have missed the point.
“Just like the Tories before them, they’ve made the mistake of thinking politics is a game.
“But I’ve got a message for them. Politics is about service – delivering for communities.
“It isn’t about the same old constitutional fights and asking people to pay more for less. It isn’t about failing to support our public services and trying to blame somebody else. Politics is about changing lives.”
He will add: “It is about delivering a future where everyone can live up to their potential. It is about serving the people of Scotland. That is what the SNP have forgotten.
“It’s that failure to stand up for Scotland, that failure to put country before party that has seen people turn their backs on them.