SCOTTISH Labour has thrashed the SNP in a council byelection caused by a sex scandal amid a Nationalist meltdown.

Labour candidate Anne McCrory gained the Bellshill ward in North Lanarkshire on first preferences alone yesterday with almost double the vote taken by the SNP.

Scottish labour leader Anas Sarwar hailed it as an "incredible result".

The loss is an early electoral setback for Humza Yousaf, who campaigned in the seat alongside SNP candidate Joe Budd.

The SNP leader acknowledged his party had faced a “challenge” in “that particular seat”.

He said: “I definitely don’t take a single vote the SNP has for granted, so we’ve got to work hard as a party.

“That’s why it’s so important the SNP stays as a united party, that we get around that core driving message of ours that independence and the future of Scotland should be in the hands of the people of Scotland.”

He added he believed that “is a proposition that is gaining support”.

Ms McCrory won 1,440 votes compared to Mr Budd’s 753 on a turnout of 22.7 per cent.

Labour’s 51.8% share was enough to put it over the top in the 10-way contest without any need for vote transfers, and was 13 points up on the 2022 result in Bellshill.

The SNP’s share of the vote was down 13.7 points to 27.1%. 

Turnout was down 13.3 points on the 2022 local elections. 

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Geoff Aberdein, a former chief of staff to first minister Alex Salmond, said the SNP’s failure to turn out its previous supporters illustrated the electoral threat facing a  complacent party.

He tweeted: “Bellshill by-election highlights need for major point of departure. 

“Party has to stop talking to its own bubble, establish vision & purpose that reflects punters' needs & deliver with conviction.

“Why weren’t SNP voters willing to turnout? Whether it be in polls or at ballot box in by-elections, the trend has been against the SNP for months. 

“This ‘fingers in ears’ and ‘it will be alright on the night’ position is exactly how I recall the Labour Party acting in 2006.”

The contest was triggered by Jordan Linden, who was seen as one of the SNP’s rising stars, resigning over sexual misconduct allegations.

Mr Linden, who is 28 this month, stood down from the £45,000-a-year post just a few weeks after the SNP gained control of the Labour stronghold at last year’s local elections.

He left after sexual misconduct claims were made against him, which he initially denied.

He later admitted causing a teenage boy “a sense of discomfort which I entirely regret” at a party in 2019, but insisted he had never approached anyone with “ill intent”.

His resignation as council leader led to the collapse of the SNP administration and party infighting, and Labour regained control of the authority. 

After more allegations surfaced, Mr Linden left the council altogether in March this year.

"My resignation is due to the extreme impact all of this is having on my life,” he said. 

The North Lanarkshire SNP group recently suffered mass resignations after the party tried to suspend councillors who had complained about its mishandling of the scandal.

Eight former SNP councillors now sit as “Progressive Change for North Lanarkshire”.

Police Scotland are investigating a sexual assault allegation against Mr Linden.

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The Sunday Mail reported last month that two men had given statements to detectives and that three others had made allegations, some dating back eight years.

Mr Linden, who is the cousin of SNP Glasgow East MP David Linden, told the paper he did not accept the allegations made against him.

Alba party chair Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh claimed the party's 3.9% vote share suggested "great things for the future".

She said: "This is AlbaA’s best result thus far and suggests great things for the future.

"This is the second by-election running where we have outpolled the Greens and the first time we have beaten both the Greens and the Liberal-Democrats.

"The overall result in Bellshill confirms the SNP are in deep trouble and it is our job to ensure that ALBA continues our rise to offer a viable alternative to independence supporting voters.”


The number of first preference votes polled for each candidate was:  

Joseph Budd, Scottish National Party  – 753

Colin Cameron, Scottish Conservative and Unionist – 236

John Arthur Henry Cole, Scottish Liberal Democrats – 34

Leo Francis Lanahan, Scottish Family Party: Pro-Family, Pro-Marriage, Pro-Life - 30

John Marshall, Alba Party for Independence – 107

Anne McCrory, Scottish Labour Party – 1,440

Rosemary McGowan, Scottish Greens - 44

Simona Panaitescu, Freedom Alliance. Stop the Great Reset – 7

Billy Ross, British Unionists – For a Better Britain - 120

Neil Wilson, UK Independence Party - 7


Total of first preference votes: 2,778

The percentage poll was 22.7% and the electoral quota was 1,390. 

41 ballot papers were rejected.

Des Murray, Returning Officer, said: “I would like to congratulate Anne McCrory on her election, and I look forward to seeing her at the next council meeting.”