Next week’s by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West is “of monumental significance,” Sir Keir Starmer has said, suggesting that Labour is increasingly confident of victory.

The leader of the opposition will be in the South Lanarkshire seats today with candidate Michael Shanks.

Voters in the constituency have been without an MP for over two months, ever since Margaret Ferrier was ousted in a recall petition.

READ MORE: Yousaf says buck stops with him if SNP lose by-election

Labour needs a swing of just 5% to take the seat and overturn the majority of 5,230 secured by the disgraced former MP in 2019.

Although their national poll ratings have fallen in recent weeks, Anas Sarwar's party remain the favourites in the contest.

Ahead of the visit, Sir Keir said: “This by-election is of monumental significance. For far too long the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have been let down by two incompetent governments that don’t speak for you, and a rule-breaking MP who refused to do the right thing.

“Next Thursday voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West can say enough is enough. You can vote for change and you can elect a local champion in Michael Shanks who will put our two failing governments on notice.”

The Labour leader also criticised the SNP’s use of paid leafleters on zero-hour contracts, after Humza Yousaf’s party reviewed their distribution arrangements.

The review followed claims in the Scottish Sun that a local was told by a leafleter: “I don’t support the SNP - I’m just getting paid to hand this s***e out. It’s a zero-hours contract as well.”

That’s despite the SNP previously describing zero-hours contracts as “exploitative” and calling for Holyrood to get the powers to ban them.

“I know the importance of respect for a day’s graft,” Sir Keir said. “The dignity in a day’s work. The necessity for work to pay. This is why it is so insulting for the SNP candidate here to hire workers on zero-hour contracts.

“It runs totally counter to the asks of people across Rutherglen and Hamilton West - for security in work, secure family finances, and fairness in exchange for hard work.

“The fact is that there is another way – the Labour way. We were founded to seek power, and use it to serve working people and we will do it again.

“Michael Shanks will make work pay for the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West and he’ll spend every day focused on you and working tirelessly to deliver the change that Scotland needs.”

READ MORE: SNP leaflet 'review' in Rutherglen by-election after zero-hours contract row

The SNP hit out at Sir Keir, saying Labour had ignored their calls for the £400 energy bill rebate for households to be brought back this winter and for a mortgage tax relief.

Katy Loudon, their candidate in the by-election said: “Keir Starmer has a brass neck turning up to Rutherglen and Hamilton West after he - and his pro-Brexit Labour party - have shamefully stayed silent over cost of living support, and offered no meaningful policies to help people through this crisis.

“Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar have had ample opportunity to show they will stand up for people in this constituency by backing the SNP’s calls for an energy rebate and tax relief for mortgage holders - but they’ve refused to do so every time.

“Right now, all that is on offer from Labour is the Tory status quo. As an SNP MP, I will always stand up against Westminster austerity and work for the real cost of living support for people across this community.”