The National:

SCOTTISH Labour aren’t just a branch office, we’re told. And then the mask slips in an email just after polling stations shut.

This example has come courtesy of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election – which Labour are expected to win.

Keir Starmer’s candidate Michael Shanks – at time of writing – was expected to see off SNP challenger Katy Loudon to take the seat, with the ballot called as a result of a recall petition that saw Margaret Ferrier ousted as MP.

The National: (L-R) Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Labour leader Keir Stamer, Labour by-election candidate

Party HQ down south doesn’t seem to have got the memo that suggestions Anas Sarwar’s Scottish Labour are merely a branch office of the UK party are all just a big conspiracy theory, however.

Because just after voting ended, Labour were quick to congratulate themselves.

READ MORE: Updates from Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election

An email promptly went out from Pat McFadden MP, Labour’s “National Campaign Co-ordinator”.

McFadden is the MP for Wolverhampton South East, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office. Not quite based in Scotland, then.

He said: “We are proud of the positive campaign we have run in Rutherglen and Hamilton West. Labour has never won a seat from the SNP in a Westminster by-election, so we were always aware of the scale of the task ahead of us.

“Our campaign has focused relentlessly on the cost of living and delivering for working people. We highlighted that the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West deserved better than two governments running from their own record of failure, riven with infighting, and unable to concentrate on what matters to people here and across the country.

READ MORE: South Lanarkshire Council denies issues with voter ID at by-election

“It will be some time before we know the result, but we hope to show that Labour is the party that can build a better future for Scotland and for Britain.”

Underneath his quote in the email came another offering from Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie. You will notice considerably fewer uses of the word “we” in her statement.

The National:

Baillie said: “Michael Shanks should be proud of the energetic campaign he has led in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“It is clear for all to see that Scottish Labour is once more a serious force in Scottish politics.

“From our plans to make work pay to acting to put money into the pockets of working people, Scottish Labour has proudly campaigned on the priorities of the people.

“The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have spoken – soon we will know whether they have chosen a fresh start with Scottish Labour.”

And, as if it needed mentioning, the statement came via the UK Labour press office...