ANAS Sarwar has set himself up for a further blow by linking his party’s success to this week’s Airdrie & Shotts byelection.

The Scottish Labour leader said the party, which suffered its worst ever result in last week’s Holyrood election, was showing it was “back on the pitch” in the constituency.

Voters go to the polls in Airdrie & Shotts again on Thursday to elect a new MP after the SNP’s Neil Gray gave up the seat to move to Holyrood.

He bequeathed his would-be SNP successor, teacher Anum Qaiser-Javed, a majority of 5,201, which is being challenged by local Labour councillor Kenneth Stevenson.

Given Mr Gray won the Holyrood seat of Airdrie & Shotts by 5,468 over former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, a Labour gain on Thursday seems unlikely.

However campaigning in the byelection today, Mr Sarwar said: “Scottish Labour is building the alternative to the SNP and here in Airdrie and Shotts we are showing that Labour is back on the pitch.

“Kenneth Stevenson is Labour to his core and is dedicated to standing up for the people of the area.

"If the people of Airdrie and Shotts put their faith in him, they won't just be electing an MP, they will be electing a champion for the area.

“I can’t wait to get back into the Scottish Parliament with our new MSPs and to continue to fight for a national recovery that is fair for all.

“Across the country, Labour is focusing on what unites the people of Scotland and is building the alternative to the SNP – join us on that journey.”