RUTHERGLEN and Hamilton West has been centre stage in UK politics ever since Margaret Ferrier MP publicly apologised for breaching Covid regulations in 2020.

Questions surrounding a recall after the ex-SNP MP was suspended from the Commons for breaking the rules were put to bed in June this year, and in August it was revealed that a total of 11,896 voters signed Scotland’s first recall petition.

Finally, after Labour had already began campaigning, the by-election was to take place – and on Thursday the Rutherglen battleground will go quiet to count ballot papers as pollsters and experts watch closely….

Rutherglen and Hamilton West: A history

The constituency starts at Rutherglen, just south of Glasgow, and moves south-east encompassing areas like Cambuslang and Blantyre.

Labour are favourites to reclaim the seat previously held by Ferrier.

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From its creation in 2005 until 2015, the seat was held by Labour, as they had held its previous incarnation Glasgow Rutherglen since 1964.

In 2015, as part of the SNP's landslide victory, the seat was won by Ferrier, who lost it two years later in the 2017 snap General Election – however, this is considered to be due to a reduced turnout rather than a Labour support surge.

The National: Margaret Ferrier in 2015

The Tories also made gains in 2017, whilst this fell in 2019 as SNP again won the seat.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West wards

The constituency is composed of Blantyre, Cambuslang East, Cambuslang West, Rutherglen Central and North, Rutherglen South, and parts of Hamilton North and East, Hamilton South, Hamilton West and Earnock.

It is served by Labour-held South Lanarkshire Council.

The Hamilton areas were contested in the 1967 Hamilton by-election  which saw Winnie Ewing's surprise victory, "the most sensational by-election result in Scotland since 1945" according to historian Tom Devine.

Key issues

Cost of living has been the number one issue during the campaign with SNP branding Brexit as the cause, and Labour arguing the UK and Scottish governments are to blame, with now not being the time to discuss Brexit.

Local and national party politics have also been in the spotlight. The Labour-run South Lanarkshire Council has received criticism as the leader Joe Fagan was suspended, whilst arrests of key SNP figures including the former first minister Nicola Sturgeon have been in the foreground.

READ MORE: 14 candidates standing in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election

Labour have also been heavily criticised for multiple U-turns as they have attempted to firm up stances in the by-election. Visits from Westminster politicians, including Starmer, to the constituency were often blasted.

With the constituency being a 15-minute journey from Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow’s LEZ regulations have also been discussed during the campaign.


Poling expert Professor Sir John Curtice has said the seat is a “must-win” for Keir Starmer as it was previously reclaimed by Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Curtice agrees Labour should win the seat, particularly given it was one of a handful ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn was able to snatch off the SNP in 2017.

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But he insisted the devil would be in the details.

He told The Sunday National: “Labour simply winning the seat will not tell us what we want to know, the question is how well do they win.

“How much is the SNP vote down and do Labour manage to match the kind of rise in their support which is about 15 points or so in the Scotland-wide polls?

“It’s a reasonable seat to use as a benchmark as to whether or not Labour are making the kind of progress we would expect them to make because it’s a West of Scotland seat that was Labour which the SNP now hold, but it will be how well Labour wins that’s crucial, not whether they win.

“This is a by-election that will provide evidence on whether or not it is indeed the case that the Labour Party pose a significant challenge to the SNP north of the Border.”