THE First Minister has laughed off claims that the SNP are struggling to get parliamentarians and activists to join the campaign trail in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Reports in The Times this weekend suggested that MSPs had been reprimanded by their chief whip for not turning up to campaign and that it was the “worst supported” by ordinary activists in “living memory”.

Both Humza Yousaf and SNP by-election candidate Katy Loudon refuted the suggestion on the campaign trail at a press call in Cambuslang on Monday.

READ MORE: SNP will 'consider amendments' to independence strategy motion

With just 10 days left to go before polling day in the crucial Westminster by-election, Yousaf told journalists the buck stops with him if the SNP fail to win.

He argued that the contest would be determined by the party’s effort on polling day to get voters to turn out.

Speaking in Cambuslang, the FM laughed as he was asked why his parliamentarians were staying away from the by-election.

“We’ve just had 100 bodies out on Saturday, managing to get to speak to over 1000 people,” he said.

“Trust me, getting people out here is not the challenge that we're going to have, and I'm pleased that we've had thousands of activists over the course of the by-election period coming out over the last few months.”

Loudon added: “Our biggest challenge this 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.”

The National:

With the by-election a two-horse race between the SNP, which won the seat in 2019, and Scottish Labour, Yousaf said ensuring his party’s supporters vote on October 5 would be crucial.

But he admitted that the party is facing “very difficult circumstances” in the seat which had been held by Margaret Ferrier, who was removed by locals in a recall petition after she was found to have broken Covid-19 travel rules.

“What I think is going to end up coming down to is no doubt on the day, we'll 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, reminding people of the importance of casting their vote,” he said.

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

READ MORE: SNP challenge Labour MSPs to back motion devolution of employment law 

“What I would say is that that's our biggest asset, the SNP, one of our biggest assets is the fact that we are by far by quite some distance the largest political party in Scotland.

“I know that even though the other political party some of them don't even put out their membership because I can be pretty confident of that.

“We don't have to bus people up from other parts of the UK either so I'm really confident that our membership are turning out and will continue to turn out in the next 10 days, particularly on polling day.”

In terms of the by-election, he 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.”