The SNP will put the cost-of-living crisis front and centre when it launches its campaign in the Rutherglen & Hamilton West byelection today. 

With four weekends left until polling day, the Nationalists and their Labour challengers will both focus on the issue, which canvassers report is the most important on the doorstep.

SNP candidate Katy Loudon said she would “fight tooth and nail for real cost-of-living support from Westminster" if she wins  the seat.

The SNP’s Margaret Ferrier won in 2019 with a majority of 5,230.

However she was ousted in Scotland’s first recall petition after being suspended from parliament for breaking Covid rules during lockdown.

The SNP moved the writ for the by-election at Westminster on Monday and the returning officer for South Lanarkshire confirmed it would be October 5.

Labour, which sees the by-election as a springboard for the general election, is widely regarded as the favourite in what is effectively a two-horse race.

Ms Loudon, a local councillor, will be joined by SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, SNP deputy leader Keith Brown and other parliamentarians. 

Mr Flynn said: "Whilst the Labour Scottish branch office change their tune every time their Westminster boss comes to visit, Katy has stood by her principles, relentlessly held Westminster to account over their Brexit and cost-of-living crisis, and been a real champion for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“She has already written to the Chancellor calling for mortgage tax relief and promised to introduce a Bill to scrap the brutal two-child cap and rape clause. Katy will continue to challenge the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour party over their lack of cost-of-living support and cruel welfare policies.

“Voting SNP in Rutherglen and Hamilton West will ensure the area has a strong voice at Westminster fighting for cost-of-living support and independence for Scotland.”

Ms  Loudon said: “The Westminster cost-of-living crisis is the single biggest issue facing people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, and across Scotland. 

“Yet both the Tories and the pro-Brexit Labour party have failed to put anything meaningful on the table to support people. In stark contrast, the SNP Scottish Government are unashamedly bringing in policies that will make Scotland greener and fairer.

“While we feel the pinch after years of Tory imposed Brexit and austerity, the Westminster establishment feels nothing. And Sir Keir Starmer has made it clear we can’t count on Labour to stand up for Scotland and against cruel Tory policies because he now supports them all.

“I pledge to fight tooth and nail for Westminster cost-of-living support for the people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

"A vote for me as the SNP candidate is a vote for real cost-of-living support, real opposition to the Tories, and hope for a fairer, wealthier community inside an independent Scotland.” 

Labour candidate Michael Shanks, who had his launch last month, said he had a plan to save households up to £1,400 during the cost of living crisis.

He said a Labour government would impose a “real windfall tax on obscene oil and gas profits”, support people struggling with mortgage costs, ensure £100 water bill rebates,  cap bus fares and freeze rail fares, and invest in renewable energy and home insulation. 

“The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have been cruelly failed and let down by both the SNP and the Tories," he said.

“While Katy Loudon fails to stand up to her political masters in the SNP and offers only impotent opposition at Westminster, I have a plan to put money into the pockets of working people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West during the cost of living crisis.

“From a £100 water bill rebate to help with mortgages and travel costs, Scottish Labour will stand up for the people of this area while the SNP continue to let them down.

“Things can get better for the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West – but only with a fresh start with Scottish Labour.

“This weekend - while the SNP try to re-start their stuttering campaign - Scottish Labour is taking our message of change to the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.”