HUMZA Yousaf has said he remains "hopeful" of an SNP victory in a by-election next week. 

The First Minister said voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West face a “stark choice” between Keir Starmer’s “man in Scotland” or the SNP candidate, who he said would only take her orders from her constituents.

The by-election will take place on Thursday October 5 after the seat was vacated by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier following a successful recall petition after her conviction for breaching Covid restrictions in 2020.

The SNP candidate Katy Loudon is taking on Labour's Michael Shanks and a host of other candidates for the seat. 

Speaking during a visit to Tempo Community Space in Rutherglen on Saturday, Yousaf said: “I go in hopeful over these last few days of the by-election for a couple of reasons: one, because we have a phenomenally good candidate in Katy Loudon, who is working hard, talking to people every hour of every day as much as she possibly can.

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“But the second reason I go in hopeful is because I know the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have now a very stark choice.

“They can either vote for Keir Starmer’s man here in Scotland – and Labour have taken this vote for granted, they’ve already decided they’ve won this by-election – or they have a choice of the alternative, of Katy Loudon, who will only take her orders from the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West and stand up for the issues that matter to them, predominantly battling against that Westminster cost-of-living crisis that has caused so much misery to so many people in this constituency.”

Yousaf conceded that the context of the by-election has been “challenging” but said there is strong support for the SNP.

He said: “It could well come down to on the day making sure we get that vote out, motivate them, that’s what we’ll be concentrating on for the next few days.”

The National: SNP leader Humza Yousaf during a dance class at the Tempo Community Hub in Rutherglen during campaigning ahead of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-electionSNP leader Humza Yousaf during a dance class at the Tempo Community Hub in Rutherglen during campaigning ahead of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election (Image: Robert Perry)

Yousaf and Loudon joined a children’s dance class with Busta Beat during their visit to the community centre on Saturday.

Loudon said the SNP is fighting a good campaign and the by-election is an opportunity for people to send a strong message to Westminster.

She said: “By-elections have the potential to cause a shockwave in politics, we know that from Winnie Ewing in this area 50 years ago.

“This is a chance for people in this area to send a message and that message is we reject Westminster, we reject Westminster being broken or it not working for this constituency, we reject Brexit, we reject years of horrible welfare policies, years of austerity, and it’s a message for Labour as well.

“People have the chance to do that and it’s to send a message to Keir Starmer – we’re not going to put up with your lurch to the right because your lurch to the right is to support your vote down south, it’s not about doing anything for the voters of Rutherglen and Hamilton west here in this area.”