Humza Yousaf has said he will take responsibility if the SNP fails to win next week’s Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

The First Minister also laughed off claims that the party was struggling to get supporters to campaign for candidate Katy Loudon.

The Herald:

Speaking to journalists during a campaign stop in Cambuslang, Mr Yousaf admitted that the SNP was facing “some very difficult circumstances."

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Margaret Ferrier won the seat for the SNP in 2019, taking it back off Labour, who had won it from her at the snap election in 2017.

However, she was later suspended from the Commons for 30 days over multiple pandemic rule breaches and a subsequent criminal conviction.

The MP — who sat as an independent after being suspended by the party in 2020 — was ordered to carry out 270 hours of community service after pleading guilty to wilfully exposing people “to the risk of infection, illness and death”.

She was ousted from the seat over the summer in Scotland’s first recall petition.

Mr Yousaf said: “The first six months of my leadership have been fairly eventful."

"There’s been some things I anticipated, and some things I did not anticipate,” he added likely referencing the arrest of his predecessor. 

Earlier this year, Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed by detectives as part of the long-running police inquiry into the party’s finances.

She was subsequently released without charge pending further investigations.

Her husband, Peter Murrell, the party's former chief executive, and Colin Beattie, the SNP's ex-treasurer were also both arrested and released. 

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Mr Yousaf added: “Ultimately, the buck stops with me as leader of the SNP. If you don’t retain a seat I will be answerable to my membership in that regard.”

However, he said he was confident, that the SNP’s support was “very strong” and that Ms Loudon was a “great candidate.”

The Herald:

The First Minister said the party was not struggling to get activists involved in the campaign, despite reports parliamentarians were staying away.

“We just had 100 bodies out on Saturday managing to get to speak to over 1000 people. Trust me, getting people out here is not the challenge that we're going to have.”

“What I think it is going to end up coming down to is on the day,” he added. “We're going to have to make sure we have lots of people out on the day ensuring that we chap up that vote, make sure we're getting people to the polling station for those who require assistance and reminding people of the importance of casting their vote.

“There's a strong level of support here for the SNP.”

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Mr Yousaf said unlike other parties the SNP did not “have to bus people up from other parts of the UK either.”

Ms Loudon said the biggest challenge for the party over the weekend “was actually making sure we had enough coffee and trying to get our printer to work fast enough. We certainly weren't lacking bodies.”

Mr Flynn said: “In 2010 Labour won the seat, in 2015 the SNP won it. In 2017 Labour won. In 2019 the SNP won it.

“A general election contest is very different from a by-election contest. I'm fully focused on making sure that we win this seat. I think the First Minister has led us remarkably well over the course of his tenure despite the challenges that the party has faced.”