Startling figures have emerged from the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election which suggest the SNP have a huge headache on their hands.  

With turnout of 37%, the election ranks as one of the lowest-attended in recent years, so all parties could expect to see their share of the vote fall. 

But for SNP candidate Katy Louden, the drop-off in support from previous MP Margaret Ferrier is profound. 

In the last vote – the General Election in 2019 - Ferrier secured 23,775 votes, (44.20%) on a turnout of 53,794 (66.48%). 

Her nearest challenger – Ged Killen of Labour – received 18,545 (34.47%) ballots.  

However, last night saw their candidate secure just 8,399 votes as support for the SNP collapsed by more than 15,000.

This represents a 65% decrease in the number of voters backing the party.   

The Herald: Katy Louden 

By contrast, winning candidate Michael Shanks of Labour received 17,845 (58.55) - still down on 2019’s tally of votes but only by 4%.  

Not only did he overturn the SNP’s majority of 5,230, he surpassed it by more than 4,000 votes to command a lead of 9,446. 

READ MORE: Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election - Sarwar hails seismic win

This suggests that while Labour’s vote held up reasonably well, the SNP’s support has evaporated as people either stayed home in apathy or simply declined to back the party they had once voted for in droves.  

Overall, the numbers behind the by-election reflect a picture of people weary of the SNP, and politics in general.  

Just as the SNP vote collapsed, so to did that of the Conservatives, whose candidate Thomas Kerr failed to even secure his deposit. 

The Herald:

A surge in the Scottish Green vote also never materialised, with candidate Cameron Eadie securing just 601 votes

Despite the huge spotlight shone on the constituency – with both Humza Yousaf and Sir Keir Starmer making trips to Rutherglen to pound the streets – turnout was significantly down on the 2019 election of  53,794 (66.48%). 

While by-elections tend to be less well-supported than General Elections, the turnout in Rutherglen and Hamilton West was way below the UK Average of 50%. 

This may be a feature of Scottish politics – with the last by-election in Airdrie and Shotts in 2021 also seeing a turnout of less than 40%. 

The Herald: Humza Yousaf was on the campaign trail ....

This election, held in May, attracted just 34% of the total electorate – who elected the SNP’s Anum Qaisar to the Parliament.  

The lowest turnout recorded in the UK was 18.2% Manchester Central in 2012, which saw Lucy Powell of labour elected.  

READ MORE: Rutherglen by-election - Tories and Scottish Greens lose their deposits

Rutherglen ranks as one of the largest-ever swings at a Westminster by-election in Scotland where a seat has changed hands.

Only four such contests since 1945 have seen larger swings, the most recent being at Glasgow East in July 2008, which the SNP won from Labour on a 22.5-point swing.

The Herald: As was Sir Keir Starmer

Two other Westminster seats have changed hands at by-elections since the last general election: Wakefield, which Labour gained from the Conservatives in June 2022 on a swing of 12.7 points, and Hartlepool, which the Tories won from Labour in June 2021 on a swing of 16.0 points.

Labour had hoped to gain Uxbridge & South Ruislip from the Conservatives at the by-election in July of this year, needing only a swing of 7.6 points to do so.

In the event the party managed only a 6.7 point swing and the Tories held the seat.