• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Sorry Anas Sarwar, Labour’s recent by-election victory is only 37% impressive

image of Anas Sarwar speaking at a conference

No-one likes a centrist. Especially centrists that try to take libraries from children.

Being a Glaswegian means many things. It means it will always rain regardless of what the weatherman says, if you are to venture into the city centre, there will be endless buskers singing shaky renditions of your favourite Paolo Nutini or Lewis Capaldi songs, there is always rampant laughter. But most importantly, being Glaswegian means having a never ceasing, loud voice against conservatism. So why did Rutherglen and Hamilton West just vote Labour in their recent by-election? I know – a vote for Labour is not a vote for the Conservative Party. But with every passing day Labour Leader Keir Starmer says things like “Labour are the real conservatives” I struggle to see much of a difference.

This by-election must be understood within its context. The reason any of this happened was because former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier was suspended by the SNP and had the party whip withdrawn due to her breaking COVID-19 regulations in 2020, and until now had been sitting as an independent MP. And despite the SNP taking the line that they did not support Ferrier’s actions, it appears to have done genuinely damaging things for their reputation in Rutherglen and Hamilton West- one of the largest and arguably most influential constituencies in Scotland. But also – it was the first election in Scotland to require photo-ID in order to vote. Labour poured money into their campaign- with Keir Starmer, Anas Sarwar and a slurry of other Labour politicians actively campaigning in Rutherglen- something I would put money on them not bothering with in the next General Election.

This by-election had a really reassuring voter turnout of a whopping 37.19%- so I think I can argue confidently that it isn’t quite representative of the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West’s overall views. In the last general election (2019- I know, the last general election was in 2019)- voter turnout in Rutherglen and Hamilton West was 66.5%- if we all pause to do maths for a second (sidenote: Rishi I swear I can count regardless of my lack of a maths Higher) that is almost double of this by-election’s. In Scotland’s last parliament election (which happened in a more believable 2021), Rutherglen’s voter turnout was 66.3%. In both of these elections, the SNP comfortably bagged Rutherglen. So, does this by-election set a precedent for the future of Scottish politics? I would say not really. I think it would be naive to suggest the SNP are as strong as they were previously- I think they have taken quite a hit with the loss of long-time leader Nicola Sturgeon as well as the constant investigations into the finances of their party (if I was to comment on this, I would be here all day).

But until Scottish Labour can stop allying themselves with the Tories, like we have seen in North Lanarkshire, where they, in truly Disney-Villain like fashion, tried to close thirty nine leisure facilities including swimming pools and libraries- I genuinely don’t see much changing in Scottish politics. I am fairly sure they will gain more seats in the next elections- but to suggest there will be dramatic changes to Scotland’s voting statistics because of a 37.19% turnout feels maybe a tad misguided- Labour doubling their seats from one to two this time round isn’t perhaps as sensational as some may think.

However, a final message to my fellow people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West: why did you do that? Have we learned nothing? A party that aligns themselves with the Tory party is not a party with your best interests at heart, unless of course, you are a fellow millionaire and went to Oxford or Cambridge with our truly beloved and publicly elected supreme overlord, Rishi Sunak.

Anas Sarwar speaking at conference” by Scottish Labouris licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.