SNP labelled ‘dysfunctional’ over by-election selection pause

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has taken aim at the “dysfunctional” SNP after the party paused its selection process for a key by-election.

The constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West could see a by-election if Covid rule-breaking MP Margaret Ferrier is suspended from the Commons.

Ms Ferrier was suspended from the SNP after she admitted travelling between Scotland and England while positive with the virus in 2020.

She is currently appealing against a proposed 30-day sanction recommended by the Commons Standards Committee, which could trigger a by-election if 10% of her constituents sign a recall petition.

However the Times reported on Tuesday that First Minister Humza Yousaf has rejected a series of local candidates put forward for selection.

He told the newspaper: “It’s an important by-election potentially that will take place there and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got an excellent candidate in place, which I’m committed to doing.”

Mr Sarwar, whose party have identified the constituency as an important target, said he was not shocked to hear about the rumoured struggle to select an SNP candidate.

He 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.

UK Parliament portraits
Margaret Ferrier is appealing against the Standards Committee’s recommendation (Roger Harris/UK Parliament)

“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.”

Mr Sarwar, who was speaking to journalists on a visit to Glasgow Girls FC in the city’s Springboig area, added: “The SNP are dysfunctional, incoherent, and they are in the hunt for tactics as well as a strategy.”

His comments come after deputy Labour leader Jackie Baillie said last week that defeat in the seat to the SNP would require some “soul-searching” in her party.

Ms Ferrier, who now sits as an independent MP, won the seat from Labour in 2019 with a 5% swing and a majority of 5,240.

An SNP spokesperson 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.”

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