Taking out the bins on polling day… dumped SNP MP Margaret Ferrier
- Shamed Nationalist wheels out the rubbish as voters head to polls in her former constituency
- Heavy rain hits turnout – but Labour are still confident of ‘seismic’ win
Washout conditions are believed to have hit turnout in a crucial by-election where a ‘confident’ Labour Party is hoping to defeat the SNP.
Activists from all parties braved the elements yesterday to try to get their voters to polling stations across the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency.
But there were widespread concerns about the effect of the weather on the by-election, which could be a barometer of support for the crisis-hit SNP and the strength of any Labour resurgence.
The contest was triggered after voters removed former Nationalist MP Margaret Ferrier in Scotland’s first recall petition.
Ferrier flouted Covid rules by travelling between London and Glasgow while knowingly infected with coronavirus, and she was subsequently convicted in court of ‘recklessly’ exposing people to harm.
Disgraced former Nationalist MP Margaret Ferrier wheeling her bin out yesterday as voters headed to polling stations in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, the constituency she used to represent
It has left the SNP desperately battling to retain the seat, which its disgraced former MP won with a 5,230 majority in 2019. But Labour was odds-on favourite to win.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar had said a ‘seismic’ victory could signal the decline of the SNP and be a ‘launching pad’ back into power for his party.
With heavy rain falling during much of polling day, Mr Sarwar posted a video of himself using a hairdryer to dry out sheets of election material used by activists,
saying: ‘It gives a whole new meaning to “hairdryer treatment”.’
One Labour source out in the ‘grim’ weather told the Scottish Daily Mail: ‘Turnout does seem very low. Everyone’s soaked and the horrible weather isn’t helping getting the vote out.’
Speaking at 5pm, with five hours to go until polling stations closed, they added: ‘Despite the turnout, we’re fairly confident we’re getting our supporters out to vote.’
An SNP doorknocker also said the relentless rain ‘wasn’t an ideal situation for a by-election’, adding: ‘People in this constituency have been bombarded about this by-election for months, but I reckon this weather will do turnout no favours. We’ve been getting a great response on the doorstep, though – Labour seem to be taking this contest for granted.’
The by-election was triggered after Margaret Ferrier was recalled after flouting Covid rules
Analysis of 34 academic studies into voter turnout for elections, carried out by Copenhagen University, concluded that the ‘vast majority’ show rainy polling days had a negative impact on how many people voted.
On the eve of polling, Mr Sarwar said defeating the SNP could prove as ‘seismic’ for Labour as Winnie Ewing’s win for the SNP in the same constituency.
Her historic 1967 victory in Hamilton – the party’s first post-war win – is credited with being the catalyst for the SNP’s rise to power.
Mr Sarwar added: ‘You can talk about the by-election that Winnie Ewing won here many years back, you can talk about the Glasgow East by-election that we lost to the SNP. Both were regarded as seismic. I believe this has the potential to be a seismic by-election, and then as a launchpad as we head towards that next general election.’
SNP candidate Katy Loudon said a victory for her party would ‘let the Westminster establishment know that Scotland must not be ignored’.
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