Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023

SNP promises to call crunch by-election as soon as possible

Margaret Ferrier arrested over alleged COVID-19 rule breach

The by-election to replace ex-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier is likely to take place on October 5, after the SNP said they would “move the writ as soon as they can”.

The signal came after Labour said there “can be no delay”, slamming the SNP and saying there’s “absolutely no reason why that shouldn’t be done”.

“Saying they will move the writ on day one is not the same thing as saying they will have the election on 5th October”.

The call came from Labour’s candidate in Ms Ferrier’s former seat of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Michael Shanks.

Mr Shanks added: “People have been waiting almost three years for a fresh start. We’ve been unrepresented in Parliament for three years. The recall petition has now finished. People want their say and there can be no delay. It is bizarre we have to follow this protocol to call an election. It should just be automatic but 5th October is the earliest it can be and there is no logical reason why the SNP can’t make it the 5th October.”

READ MORE: Shamed Margaret Ferrier ousted as MP with SNP now facing by-election crisis

Responding to the call, the SNP signalled the by-election will come on the date, despite predications the party may want to delay the date in order to give them more time to build support.

If Labour’s national poll lead is reflected in the by-election, Sir Keir Starmer’s party should easily overcome the SNP’s 2019 5,000 majority.

Scottish Labour is keen for the starting pistol to be formally fired on the election, with deputy leader Jackie Baillie encouraging members to complain to the SNP’s Chief Whip in Westminster over the timing of the poll.

In response, the SNP blasted Dame Jackie Baillie’s demand, in spite of their supposed timetable promise.

They told the Express: “Dame Jackie Baillie has clearly been too busy playing politics, and trying to figure out what her Labour party stand for, to have noticed.”

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has previously accused the SNP of “dither and delay” over the calling of the election.

The crucial test of SNP Leader Humza Yousaf’s electoral ability came after incumbent MP Margaret Ferrier was ousted by constituents in a recall petition.

The MP had sat as an independent MP since 2020, after it came to light she acted with “blatant and deliberate dishonest intent” when committing a major breach of lockdown rules.

She travelled from Scotland to Westminster after testing for Covid in September 2020 and went on to speak in the House of Commons while awaiting the results. After the test confirmed she was positive for the virus, she took the train back to Scotland.

She was later sentenced to community service and suspended as an MP for 30 days. The length of her suspension by the Commons’s standards committee automatically triggered a recall petition in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency.

A total of 11,896 voters in her constituency backed the petition to oust her, which was triggered when the Commons’s top standards body handed her a 30-day suspension from the Commons.

Some 10 percent of constituents have to sign a recall petition for a by-election to be triggered.

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