Ferrier decision could set up SNP-Labour battle

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today called on one of her own party's MPs to resign from the House of Commons. The SNP withdrew the whip from Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier after it emerged she had taken a train from Glasgow to London while Covid positive.

If Ferrier complies, it could set up an intriguing by-election in a seat which has changed hands three times between Labour and the SNP since 2015. Ferrier gained the seat that year only to lose it to Ged Killen in 2017, before taking it back last December.

The opportunity to run a recent MP like Killen might well give Labour a fighting chance in the seat. It's an unexpected prospect for a once dominant party that has been in relentless decline in Scotland for over a decade, with only the brief respite of seat gains in 2017 that were wiped away within two year.

New UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has had to walk a fine line on Scotland's constitutional future, respecting self-determination while opposing independence. There has been little expectation for a Labour recovery in Scotland, with the party more pre-occupied by infighting over the position of Scottish leader Richard Leonard. 

This is a key obstacle to a Labour majority government. Without strong gains in Scotland, Labour may have to consider an SNP alliance as an alternative route to power.

A by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West may be an early test in one of the next election's most intractable battlegrounds.



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