An SNP win in a key by-election next week would “force the Westminster establishment to listen” and take notice of Scotland, the country’s First Minister has said.
Speaking ahead of a final weekend of campaigning in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Humza Yousaf also said that he believes Labour is taking people in the constituency for granted by believing they will vote for leader Sir Keir Starmer’s “pathetic offering of the Tory status quo.”
The constituency’s by-election will take place on Thursday October 5 after the seat was vacated by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier.
That followed a successful recall petition after her conviction for breaching Covid restrictions in 2020.
It is expected to be an important battleground ahead of the UK general election, which is expected next year, with the SNP’s Katy Loudon taking on Labour’s Michael Shanks.
Mr Yousaf said: “Right now, people are paying the price for Westminster’s cost of living crisis and deserve politicians like Katy Loudon who will stand up for the proper support they deserve.
“The SNP is fighting for meaningful policies to help people through this crisis like an energy rebate and tax relief for mortgage holders – both of which Starmer’s man in Scotland has refused to back.
“True to form, Labour is taking the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West for granted by believing they will accept Starmer’s pathetic offering of the Tory status quo.
“The SNP has never, and will never, take a single vote for granted – I am proud to share our positive vision for Scotland with voters throughout this campaign.
“People deserve better. Only an SNP MP can be trusted to stand up for the priorities of local families and stand against Westminster austerity.”
In a visit to the constituency on Friday, Sir Keir said Labour is targeting an “historic victory” and said a win could be a “milestone” on his party’s journey back to power.
Mr Yousaf will join Ms Loudon to campaign in the constituency on Saturday.
The First Minister said: “An SNP win next Thursday will force the Westminster establishment to listen and send Keir Starmer a message that Scotland rejects his pro-austerity and pro-Brexit politics.
“This by-election is a chance to make clear that we will not allow Scotland’s interests to be ignored by Westminster.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP is peddling desperate and dishonest attacks on Labour because they cannot stand on their own record.
“Their relentless campaign against a Labour government is an insult to all the Scots suffering at the hands of this morally bankrupt Tory Government.
“Labour is ready to boot out this rotten Tory Government and deliver the transformative change Scotland needs – action to tackle the cost of living crisis, a New Deal for Working People to make work pay, and a clean energy plan to drive down energy bills for good.
“This is the fresh start Scotland needs, and people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West can lead the way by voting for Michael Shanks.”
A UK Government source said: “Humza Yousaf would do well to remember that the UK Government has delivered unprecedented support to help families through Covid and with the cost of living.
“This includes a £94 billion cost-of-living package over this year and next – worth £3,300 per household on average.
“The broad shoulders of the UK have allowed us to deliver one of the most generous cost-of-living packages anywhere in the world.”