THE SNP have been accused of “clutching at straws” in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election after implying their Ayrshire-born candidate is more “local” than Labour’s. 

The Nationalists yesterday issued a statement which repeatedly said “local candidate” Katy Loudon would be a relentless “local champion” for the seat.

In a coded dig at Labour candidate Michael Shanks, the SNP highlighted the fact Ms Loudon had lived in the area for nearly 14 years.

Mr Shanks moved to the seat from Glasgow last year after buying a flat in Rutherglen in September.

However neither candidate is truly local as both were born in Ayrshire.

Ms Loudon’s birth was registered in Irvine, Mr Shanks’s in Ayr.

SNP leader Humza Yousaf, who represents the Glasgow Pollok seat at Holyrood, lives in Dundee, having bought a house there in 2017.

Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said: “This is desperate stuff from the SNP, who are clearly clutching at straws in the face of their own disastrous track record on tackling poverty.

“Michael Shanks is a local teacher, a charity worker, and has already knocked 20,000 doors in the area. 

“By contrast, Katy Loudon is only recognisable as the SNP candidate because she is hovering behind Mr Yousaf. It’s time for a fresh start for Rutherglen and Hamilton West. Michael is the only candidate that can deliver this.”

The by-election was confirmed on Tuesday when former SNP MP Maragte Ferrier was ousted by voters in Scotland’s first recall ballot.

Ms Ferrier travelled to London by train and took part in a Commons debate while waiting  for the result of a Covid test, then took the train home after being told she had the virus.

She lost the SNP whip after the details emerged in October 2020, but refused to resign and picked up more than £230,000 in salary as an Independent MP.

She was sentenced to 270 hours of community service last year for reckless conduct. 

Her suspended from parliament for 30 days later triggered the recall petition.

The byelection is expected to be held on October 5 or 12.

Ms Ferrier won the seat with a healthy 5,230-vote majority over Labour in 2019, but the SNP is widely expected to lose the byelection given recent polls dips and problems over its record in government, internal rows and arrests in the police probe into its finances.

Ms Loudon, a Cambuslang East councillor in South Lanarkshire since 2017, said: “I am proud to call Rutherglen and Hamilton West my home.

“I’ve lived in both Cambuslang and now Rutherglen for the last 14 years and I know how wonderful our corner of Scotland is to work and raise a family.

“I know the communities, I know the people, but sadly I also know the damage Westminster austerity has caused this constituency.

“That is why I vow to be a relentless, local champion for my constituents as their next MP.”

Mr Yousaf added: "Katy has a proven track record as a councillor in delivering for her community and will make an outstanding MP.

 "We know that times are tough for households right now and the SNP is doing everything we can to help them. 

“There is real concern among people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West that Keir Starmer plans to keep some of the worst Tory welfare policies such as the bedroom tax, the two-child cap and the abhorrent rape clause. 

“Labour are making a deliberate policy choice to keep thousands of children in poverty - and a vote for the SNP will send shockwaves through Westminster and make Keir Starmer think again."