MICHAEL Shanks has been accused of acting as a “Westminster stooge, not the constituents’ representative” as the Scottish Labour MP marks his first six months in parliament.

Shanks was elected to replace former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier in a by-election held in Rutherglen and Hamilton West on October 5, 2023. He took his seat in the Commons 11 days later.

Ferrier had been removed by her constituents through a recall petition after she was found to have breached Covid rules, and in his election campaign, Shanks claimed she had left “this community without the representation we need and deserve”.

However, a comparison of contributions in parliament between Ferrier’s final six months and Shank’s first show the Scottish Labour MP’s “pitiful performance” compared to his predecessor, Alba’s Westminster leader Neale Hanvey said.

In her final six months in parliament (from February 1 to August 1, 2023), Ferrier spoke a total of 178 times.

Shanks, in comparison, has spoken 42 times in his first six months.

Ferrier raised issues from a “constituent” in the chamber 13 times in six months, according to a review of Hansard, and praised a constituent’s sporting achievement on a 14th.

Shanks, in his first six months, has only raised the case of a “constituent” twice, Hansard shows.

He has spoken about Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar the same number of times - once each. Shanks has referred to the Labour Party eight times.

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One of the constituent issues which Ferrier raised was linked to the Horizon Post Office scandal, which saw subpostmasters wrongly convicted due to issues with an IT system. The former MP spoke on the issue three times in her final six months.

On January 1, 2024, an ITV dramatisation of the scandal – Mr Bates Vs The Post Office – began and catapulted it onto the front pages. Since then, Shanks has spoken on the issue three times, each time asking how a UK-wide approach could be taken.

Before his election, Shanks had further pledged to stand up to party leader Keir Starmer on issues where Scottish Labour’s line differed from the UK group’s.

However, he has now taken a frontbench position as a shadow Scotland minister and has never voted against the party line, according to the Parallel Parliament website.

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Commenting on Shanks's first six months in parliament, Alba’s Hanvey said: “If Michael Shanks MP’s performance is a bellwether for any incoming UK Labour MPs performance in Scotland, it shows that the so-called Scottish Labour branch office have learned nothing from the past. They will always act as Westminster’s stooges in Scotland, not the constituent’s representative in London’s parliament.”

He went on: “I’m proud that recently published stats confirm I’m the hardest-working MP in Fife, but I knew Margaret’s own performance would beat mine given I’ve seen first-hand her commitment to her constituents in the chamber and beyond.

“So, Shanks's pitiful performance just demonstrates how significant the loss of Margaret as an MP was to her former Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituents.”

Hanvey further said: “The injustice to Margaret is obvious to so many, but it’s the SNP who are ultimately responsible for kicking out a hard-working nationalist, only to replace them with an ineffectual UK Labour poodle.

“UK Labour will never stand up for Scotland, they will always toe the London line. Sadly, that’s what happens when others put personal power before the national priority, which should always be independence.”

Scottish Labour were approached for comment.