"I don't know who I'm going to vote for," long standing independence supporter Marion Campbell told me but "not" she has insisted, "the SNP."

We’ve been chatting in the hall at St Columbkille's Church off Rutherglen's Main Street where Marion is helping out, serving teas, coffees and delicious-looking cakes at the First Tuesday club for older folks.

Above the sound of the Scottish traditional music band providing the afternoon's entertainment, the 69-year-old explained that she voted Yes in 2014, and SNP in the general elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019, but has now become disillusioned with the party believing they has not done enough to advance the cause of independence since the referendum nine years ago. She also has concerns over their running of the NHS.

The Lanarkshire by election looms after voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West backed a recall petition to remove former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier after she broke Covid travel rules during the pandemic.

The Herald:

Volunteers at the First Tuesday Club at the hall at St Columbkille's church in Rutherglen. Pictured are, from left, volunteer Monica Toner, co-founder Pat McCarron, volunteer Marion Campbell, volunteer Anne Duncan and co-founder Sadie Lynagh. Photograph by Colin Mearns.1st August 2023.

Marion's opinion will be a worry for Scotland's main party of government and First Minister Humza Yousaf. If they can't rely on the votes of passionate independence backers like her, the signs of victory at the upcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election are not too good.

Across the hall, her friend, retired primary school teacher Pat McCarron, 90, who founded the club, knows exactly who she will be voting for.

READ MORE: Recall petition: Labour poised to take seat as Margaret Ferrier ousted

Pat, who does not support independence, has consistently voted Labour and can't see herself withdrawing support for that party in the crucial up and coming Westminster contest.

Outside St Columbkille's Church, on the Main Street itself, shoppers expressed a range of views.

John Kennedy, 78, a retired auxiliary nurse, who signed the recall petition, said he would be voting Labour, while university employee Tony Cordell, 65, said he would vote for the Scottish Greens. However, is not yet known if the party is standing.

"I signed the petition as I felt strongly that Margaret Ferrier should be removed as the MP," said John.

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Rutherglen voter John Kennedy. Photo Colin Mearns/The Herald.

"She broke the rules and in any other walk of life would have lost her job. For me she clung onto for far too long. I don't think she did much for Rutherglen anyway. I usually vote Labour and will do so at the by election."

Along the street, Tony had a different opinion and said he would certainly not be backing either Keir Starmer's party - or amid the ongoing financial issues and police investigation, the SNP.

"I'll vote for the Greens if they stand," he said. "If they don't I wouldn't vote for the SNP. I think the last few months have shown they are more corrupt than the mainstream," he said.

"I wouldn't vote for Labour either though. I think they have shown total disrespect towards Scotland and I don't like their assumption that they are going to win. I hope the Greens will stand."

In September 2020 Ms Ferrier was awaiting the results of a coronavirus test when she travelled to London. She received a positive result but returned to Scotland the next day by train.

She was sentenced to 270 hours’ community service after admitting wilfully exposing people to “the risk of infection, illness and death”. She was also banned from the Commons for 30 days in a move which automatically triggered a recall petition, the first time in Scotland the procedure has been used to seek to oust an MP.

The Herald:

Rutherglen voter Tony Cordell. Photo Colin Mearns.

Ms Ferrier, 62, who had a majority of 5,230 at the general election in 2019, said she panicked after the Covid test result. She had called on constituents not to sign the petition.

Much rides on the result of the by-election.

The SNP have already confirmed Mr Yousaf will be launching an event in the constituency tomorrow while Labour is expected to be campaigning in the area in the morning.

Polling has suggested up to a dozen SNP Westminster seats in west central Scotland are vulnerable to Labour. If Scottish Labour cannot win here, in circumstances seen as ideal for them, they can’t expect to win anywhere in Scotland.

The constituency has a history of switching hands at general elections. Ms Ferrier won for the SNP in 2019 having lost the seat to Labour in 2017 after she previously won in 2015, beating Labour in the wake of the independence referendum which left the party with just a single MP north of the border.

Scottish Labour have been knocking on doors for weeks in the constituency with leader Anas Sarwar and UK party chief Sir Keir Starmer both making recent campaign visits to support their candidate Michael Shanks, a local teacher of modern studies. Reports suggest the party is planning a soft campaign launch today.

Much is at stake for the SNP too. A defeat could further weaken the already fragile leadership of Mr Yousaf, heaping pressure on the First Minister ahead of the general election expected next year.

He too has been out campaigning in the constituency supporting Katy Loudon, a councillor for Cambuslang East.

The Conservatives have chosen their candidate - Glasgow city councillor Thomas Kerr -  while the Lib Dems are due to choose their contender tomorrow.

It is unclear if Alex Salmond's Alba party will field a candidate and the Scottish Greens have yet to decide if they will stand.

Back at St Columbkille's Church hall, Marion continues to mull over who to support.

"The SNP promised so many things. We were supposed to get our independence referendum. I am Irish by birth. I believe in Scotland being independent. It is something I thought the SNP could deliver. But it's not going to happen in my lifetime," she said.

"I was impressed by Alex Salmond and I think if he was still in the SNP I could maybe back them again."