SNP focus on cost of living at Rutherglen by-election campaign launch

The SNP’s candidate in the upcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election said she would fight “tooth and nail for real cost-of-living support from Westminster” as the party officially launches its campaign to win the seat.

Earlier this week, MPs passed an SNP motion, known as a writ, calling a by-election which will be held in the constituency on October 5.

It follows the recall of Margaret Ferrier, who was removed by constituents after she was convicted of breaking Covid lockdown rules in 2020.

Ms Ferrier was formerly an SNP MP before she was suspended by the party in October 2020.

Margaret Ferrier covid breach
Sitting Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier was recalled by constituents after breaching Covid-19 rules in 2020 (UK Parliament/PA)

Candidate Katy Loudon – a local councillor – will be joined by senior SNP figures in Rutherglen on Saturday including Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, SNP depute leader Keith Brown and party activists.

She said: “I know what we can offer and the challenges we face.

“The Westminster cost-of-living crisis is the single biggest issue facing people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, and across Scotland.

“Yet both the Tories and the pro-Brexit Labour Party have failed to put anything meaningful on the table to support people.

“In stark contrast, the SNP Scottish Government are unashamedly bringing in policies that will make Scotland greener and fairer.

“While we feel the pinch after years of Tory-imposed Brexit and austerity, the Westminster establishment feels nothing.

“Sir Keir Starmer has made it clear we can’t count on Labour to stand up for Scotland and against cruel Tory policies because he now supports them all.

“I pledge to fight tooth and nail for Westminster cost-of-living support for the people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election
SNP candidate Katy Loudon and Westminster leader Stephen Flynn will officially launch the party’s campaign on Saturday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“A vote for me as the SNP candidate is a vote for real cost-of-living support, real opposition to the Tories and hope for a fairer, wealthier community inside an independent Scotland.”

Meanwhile, Labour candidate Michael Shanks also set his sights on the cost of living, laying out his plan to fight the issue.

If elected, Mr Shanks said, he would push for a “real” windfall tax on oil and gas firms, support for a £100 water bill rebate, capping rail and bus fares, investing in renewable energy and a push to create a mortgage rescue scheme to support people struggling with housing costs.

Mr Shanks’ proposals would be likely to require Labour to win the next election to be implemented.

He said: “The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have been cruelly failed and let down by both the SNP and the Tories.

“While Katy Loudon fails to stand up to her political masters in the SNP and offers only impotent opposition at Westminster, I have a plan to put money into the pockets of working people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West during the cost-of-living crisis.

“From a £100 water bill rebate to help with mortgages and travel costs, Scottish Labour will stand up for the people of this area while the SNP continue to let them down.

“Things can get better for the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West – but only with a fresh start with Scottish Labour.

“This weekend – while the SNP try to restart their stuttering campaign – Scottish Labour is taking our message of change to the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.”