THE SNP has won a by-election victory in one of Labour's Glasgow heartlands, in what will be viewed as a marker for next year's local elections.

The party's Chris Cunningham, brother of Scottish Government Environment Minister Roseanna, defeated Labour's Ian Cruikshank by around 100 votes in Garacadden/Scotstounhill in the north west of the city.

The by-election was triggered by the death of Labour's John Kelly during the summer.

Turnout for the election was less than 24 per cent and saw a 20 per cent swing from Labour to the SNP.

In the 2012 local elections Labour secured over 60 per cent of the vote.

The outcome leaves Labour with 39 councillors, down from the 45 it won in 2012 and one away from losing its overall majority on the council. The SNP is at 30 and has scored a string of notable by-election victories.

However, success in an area where Labour has been so dominant for decades will be seen as an indication the Nationalists may be on course to unseat their rivals from power in Glasgow next May for the first time in over four decades.

Speaking after the result was announced, Mr Cunningham, who is also director of Shettleston Housing association in the east of the city, said: “I would like to thank the people of Garscadden/Scotstounhill for putting their faith and support in both myself and the SNP. I will represent everyone in the ward to the best of my ability. Can I also thank the many activists who came out to work so hard for this hard earned victory, held for the most tragic of reasons.

“This victory tonight ensures that the progress of the SNP in Glasgow continues. We have a positive vision for our city, one which will see much greater control of decisions being taken at community level. First and foremost, we want to give Glasgow back to the people who live here, to make each and every person feel that they have a role to play in the future of our city.

Glasgow SNP Group Leader, Councillor Susan Aitken, said: “I am delighted that Chris will be joining us on the SNP benches in the City Chambers. He brings a wealth of experience on housing and economic development issues, and as someone who is passionate about the area where he lives, he will be an excellent local councillor for the people of Garscadden/Scotstounhill.

“Our positive vision for Glasgow has shone through during this campaign. Our organisation and activists have carried our message to every part of the ward and we have seen a tremendous response on the doorsteps from Glaswegians. We have a long way to go, and are taking absolutely nothing for granted, but tonight’s result is one that we can take great heart."

One campaign source described the count as "tense", adding that low turn out and a lower return from postal votes pointed to a Labour victory.

The source also said a repeat of the recent defeat in North Ayrshire for the First Minister's father Robin Sturgeon was avoided due to a lack of transfers from the Tories to Labour.

The SNP was winning by 43 per cent to 39 per cent in the first round of counting under the Single transferable vote system.

On the last round, of 550 Tory votes, over 300 did not give second preference, around 160 went to Labour and 50 went to the SNP.

The Herald also understands Green transfers went two to one on favour of the SNP over Labour.

Significantly the result also came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was visiting Glasgow although it is understood he did not appear at the count.