Anas Sarwar leader of Scottish Labour delivers his keynote speech to the Scottish Labour Party Conference at the Assembly Rooms on February 17, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has called the Scottish National Party (SNP) ‘dysfunctional’ after the party paused its selection process for a key by-election, reported The Times.
During his visit to Glasgow Girls FC, Sarwar said that the SNP was too focused on its internal issues to address the challenges faced by the people.
If Margaret Ferrier, the MP for Rutherglen & Hamilton West, is suspended from the House of Commons for breaking Covid-19 rules, there could be a by-election in the constituency.
She already admitted travelling between Scotland and England despite testing positive for the virus in 2020. Now, Ferrier sits as an independent.
According to the report, she is appealing a 30-day suspension recommended by the House of Commons standards committee. If she is suspended for more than 10 days, a recall petition can be started, and a by-election will be held if 10 per cent of voters in her constituency sign the petition.
It is learnt that the first minister, Humza Yousaf, had rejected a series of local candidates put forward for selection.
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has already selected Michael Shanks, a modern studies teacher, to contest the seat. He will also stand for the party in the general election expected next year.
Responding to reports that the SNP is struggling to find a local candidate, Sarwar said, “To be honest, I’m not surprised. This is a dysfunctional political party and I think they are too busy trying to solve their internal issues to actually be focused on, one, either building and growing their support, and second, for even delivering for people across the country.”
“We are relentlessly going to focus on ourselves, making sure we’re continuing to rebuild the Scottish Labour Party and making sure we’re continuing to build that trust and support and building up the ideas for the next election, whether that be in 2024 or 2026. We’re focusing on the people’s priorities, not focusing on dividing our country or indeed internal divisions, as seems to be the case with the SNP,” he was quoted as saying by The Times.
In 2019, Ferrier won the seat from Labour by a margin of 5,240 votes, which is a 5 per cent swing from Labour to the SNP.
An SNP spokesman said, “With an appeal against the standards committee finding under way, we are making sure that whoever is chosen to win the seat for the SNP will be ready to take the message of Westminster’s failures on the cost of living crisis and the opportunities of independence out on to the doorsteps.
“We’re already campaigning in the constituency, and we will announce the potential candidates once that goes to a member ballot.”