At the UK Labour conference a few days after the party's triumph at the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election on October 5, an upbeat Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar declared that at the next general election "no SNP MP would be safe" (the party currently has 43) while his deputy Dame Jackie Baillie told a fringe meeting Labour had 28 target seats north of the border.

So who are the Scottish Labour hopefuls standing at the next general election?

The Herald has compiled short profiles of 20 Labour candidates standing in key target seats in Scotland, publishing the first ten on Monday, and the second today. We have ordered the list from the smallest to the largest swing needed for the seat to change hands. All the seats listed below were taken by the SNP in the 2019 election. The Herald has given the new names of the constituencies after a Boundary Commission review this year.

READ MORE: Who are the Scottish Labour MP hopefuls?

Our second set of the 20 Scottish Labour MP hopefuls are a diverse group including the grand-daughter of Jimmy Reid, the late legendary trade unionist (who became a convert to the Scottish independence cause), a former diplomat and linguist, a prominent journalist, a former Scottish Government minister and the wife of Sir Keir Starmer's key aide.

1. Torcuil Crichton, Na h-Eileanan an lar (Western Isles)

Mr Crichton is a journalist, writer and broadcaster, who previously worked as chief UK political correspondent for The Herald and then as Westminster editor for the Daily Record. A native Gaelic speaker, he started his career as a news reporter for West Highland Free Press before moving to The Herald and then to the BBC as a producer and director.

The Herald: Torcuil Crichton, centre, hosting a debate during the leadership race between Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard.

He was named Scottish Political Journalist of the Year in 2017. A popular figure in the press lobby and across the political divide, even former Scottish Conservative peer and former leader Ruth Davidson posted her support on social media after his selection. “Congratulations on your selection, Torc. X” she tweeted.

2. Martin McCluskey, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire West

Mr McCluskey was born and brought up in Greenock, and now lives in Gourock with his partner and a hyperactive cocker spaniel. His family have deep roots in Inverclyde and Renfrewshire. His mother was a nurse and midwife at Inverclyde Royal Hospital while his dad and uncle ran youth clubs in Ferguslie Park. His grandad was the union treasurer at

Scott’s shipyard in Greenock. Mr McCluskey joined the Labour Party in Greenock in 2003, believing Tony Blair's Government was helping to improve his community. Shortly after joining the party he moved to Ghana for six months – an experience which he thinks opened his eyes to the impact of political decisions on some of the world’s poorest people.

The Herald: Scottish Labour candidate Martin McCluskey

In 2004, he moved away to do his undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, where he also served for a year as President of the Oxford University Student Union (not to be confused with the Oxford Union) and led a high profile campaign against Holocaust deniers Nick Griffin and David Irving.

He has held a number of jobs in the public and charity sectors. From 2008-2010 he was an adviser to the Chair and Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, working on the team that delivered the landmark Equality Act, and from 2010 – 2012 worked for development charity VSO UK, leading campaigns targeting decision makers in the UK and internationally.

READ MORE: Starmer to address conference as SNP and Labour neck and neck in poll

He returned to Scottish politics in 2012, ahead of the independence referendum, working as the Shadow Cabinet’s Scotland adviser from 2012 – 2015, as an adviser to Ian Murray MP from 2015 – 2016 and then as Political Director of the Scottish Labour Party from 2016 – 2017. In 2017, he set up his own market research business – Kempock & Co – which helps organisations with a social purpose get their message across.

Locally, Martin has been heavily involved in campaigning for better NHS services in Inverclyde including against cuts to services at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, an issue he championed in both the 2017 and 2019 election campaigns when he was Labour’s candidate for Inverclyde.

Growing up around nurses and midwives, and after the early death of his father at the age of 59 from heart disease, he had more exposure than most to the NHS at an early age. His mother’s diagnosis with dementia in 2017, and subsequent journey through the social care system before her death earlier this year has made him even more committed to improving our NHS and social care services.

He was elected to Inverclyde Council in 2022, where he has continued to campaign on health issues as well as delivering for his constituents in Gourock.

3. Gordon McKee, Glasgow South

Mr McKee is a former software engineer who developed iPhone apps which were used around the world. He is currently a political advisor at the Labour Party, advising the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray. In early 2021, he was the director of Anas Sarwar’s successful campaign to become Scottish Labour leader. Aged 29, he was born and raised in greater Glasgow before studying Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. He has a keen interest in technology policy and the regulation of big tech firms.

The Herald:

Scottish Labour candidate Gordon McKee

4. Graeme Downie, Dunfermline and Dollar

Edinburgh-born Mr Downie was first elected as a councillor in Fife last year, representing West Fife Villages. His ward is diverse and includes former mining communities, the former Longannet power station, farming areas and the leafy small city of Dollar, home of the prestigious private school.  A long standing Labour member he runs a small communications company and is married with two young daughters.

The Herald: Scottish Labour candidate Graeme Downie

As a child, his family lived in Berlin for three years after his father got a job as an electrician with the RAF. Aged eight he stood on the wall dividing the city's east and west zones just after it fell. Mr Downie lives in Torryburn, one of the villages he represents on the council which also lies within the Dunfermline and Dollar constituency. His motivation in politics is to increase opportunities for people, especially those experiencing social and economic deprivation, and to build aspirations.

5. Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow North West

Ms Ferguson served as a Labour MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and latterly also for Springburn from 1999 until 2016 when she lost her seat to the SNP's Bob Doris. During her career in Holyrood she served as minister for tourism, culture and sport and prior to that minister for business in Jack McConnell's government.

The Herald: Scottish Labour candidate Patricia Ferguson, pictured with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, left, in Glasgow in November 2019.  Photo Colin Mearns

Before joining the government she was a deputy presiding officer at Holyrood and as a member of several of the Parliament's standards and procedures committees. She was elected as a Glasgow city councillor last year, one of four councillors representing the Drumchapel/Anniesland ward. Ms Ferguson, 65, is married to the former Labour MSP Bill Butler.

READ MORE: SNP on the attack after Ian Murray rejects new powers for Holyrood

Ms Ferguson was educated at Garnethill Convent Secondary School between 1970 and 1976, and at Glasgow College of Technology, where she obtained an HNC in Public Administration in 1978. She spent part of her childhood living in the city's Red Road Flats. Before being elected to Holyrood, she worked as a health service administrator, and held roles with the STUC and Scottish Labour.

6. Douglas McAllister, West Dunbartonshire

Mr McAllister is Provost of West Dunbartonshire Council and works as a lawyer.

He stood as a Labour candidate for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2021 and was defeated by the SNP's Marie McNair, coming second in the poll.

Writing in the Clydebank Post ahead of polling day, he said: "I have read with great interest the comments of prospective SNP candidates for Clydebank and Milngavie. All seem to have only one policy: “independence”.

"Simply saying to people we need to break from Westminster rule is a con trick. Every aspect of our life in Clydebank is controlled by the SNP government, and we have an SNP MP, SNP MSP and an SNP-controlled council. They have presided over 13 years of failure in Scotland."

7. Tracy Gilbert, Edinburgh North and Leith

Ms Gilbert is the Scottish Regional Secretary for USDAW – the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.

She has more than 25 years’ experience in the trade union movement – working as a housing benefits officer in local government prior to becoming a full-time lay officer for Unison City of Edinburgh. From Unison, she worked with the TUC Organising Academy before joining USDAW in 2000.

The Herald: Scottish Labour candidate Tracy Gilbert

Ms Gilbert worked in a variety of roles before becoming deputy regional secretary at the beginning of 2017, and eventually going on to be appointed regional secretary for Scotland in 2021. She oversees a membership of more than 36,000 trade unionists across USDAW in Scotland, articulating the views of workers across a wide range of sectors, covering retail, distribution, manufacturing, process workers and call centres.

She represented USDAW on the Scottish Government’s retail strategy, and is now chair of the People Strand on the Scottish Government’s Industrial Leadership Group for Retail in Scotland. She is also a member of the STUC General Council.


 8. Chris Murray, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh

A former diplomat, Mr Murray currently works in a Cosla role focussed on combatting human trafficking in Scotland. He previously worked for Save the Children and at IPPR Scotland, the thinktank. Earlier in his career he spent four years as an attache at the British Embassy in Paris.

For several years he volunteered as chair of the charity the Refugee Survival Trust helping destitute people in Scotland. Over the years he's been involved in many campaigns on migrant and minority rights.

The Herald: Scottish Labour candidate Chris Murray

The 36-year-old grew up in Glasgow and moved to Edinburgh seven years ago, currently living in the Easter Road area of the city. He attended Shawlands Academy in the southside of Glasgow before studying French and German at Oxford. He later went on to study at the LSE in London and at Harvard on a John F Kennedy Fellowship. He passionately believes in state education. Fluent in French and German, he started learning Spanish in lockdown and now has a good working knowledge of the language.

9. Joani Reid, East Kilbride and Strathaven

Ms Reid is the Scottish Labour Party's candidate for the constituency of  East Kilbride and Strathaven. After completing her undergraduate degree at Glasgow University, she moved to London building a career in public policy, latterly as Head of Policy for the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. She also earned a Master's degree in this area.

The Herald: Scottish Labour candidate Joani Reid.

Her political journey started at the coal face of local politics, serving as a councillor in one of London's most diverse and deprived Boroughs, Lewisham, for eight years. In her first term she served as the chair of the planning committee and in her second she was cabinet member for safer communities overseeing the delivery of a number of essential services including the youth justice system, licensing and violence prevention. 

Shortly after the birth of her second child she chose to return home to raise her children and be closer to friends and family. Joani is also the eldest grandchild of the late legendary trade unionist, Jimmy Reid.

Ms Reid, 37, has two young daughters, and joined Labour at Freshers' week at university in 2003 and has been active in the party since then.

After stepping down as a councillor in 2022, she moved back to Scotland with no desire at the time to return to politics.

"That didn't last very long," she tells The Herald.  "It was after a conversation with my granny, who at 86, rarely makes any kind of political statements, said she has never felt so worried about the future of the country.  I reflected on not just my children's but everyone's children's future and it occurred to me  that my generation is far more worried about our children's future, than our parents' generation was."

She adds: "I have always believed that politics, as  unpopular as it is, is the best vehicle for achieving real change, rather than piecemeal change, in communities, society and indeed the world as a whole."


10. Imogen Walker, Hamilton and Clyde Valley

A philosophy graduate of Edinburgh University, Ms Walker has earlier come to UK media attention as the wife of Morgan McSweeney, Sir Keir Starmer's campaign director.

A recent profile of Mr McSweeney in The Times said the couple live in rural Lanarkshire with their young son.

Ms Walker is a former animal rights activist and a former long serving council in Lambeth in London including periods as deputy leader. Her roles in Lambeth included overseeing the local authority's finances and previously children's services.

She also has extensive professional experience in local government, working in the field of communications and strategy giving advice on media handling to senior political figures.

From 2010 - 2019, she was one of the RSPCA's national Vice-Presidents, and is a founder of the London Animal Welfare Champions network. She is a member of Scottish Labour's policy forum.