The constituents of Rutherglen & Hamilton West will be asked to vote in a by-election next month after the writ was moved in the House of Commons earlier today to set the date of Thursday 5 October, 2023. Labour look odds-on to recapture the seat following the ousting of former MP, Margaret Ferrier following breaking Covid rules. We look at the market ahead of this contest…
Rutherglen & Hamilton West By Election Odds:
*odds correct as of 15:30, Monday 4 September, 2023
It has been quite the decade for the SNP ever since coming oh so close to winning the independence referendum in 2014. Since then, they have become by far the dominant force in Scottish politics.
Nicola Sturgeon had become one of the most recognisable faces in UK politics and one of the most influential. Yet her political career is all but over and the SNP are now trying to rebuild their base.
Independence has been at the forefront of politics north of the border ever since that ballot but as voters start to look past that solitary issue, it opens the door for other political parties to start to recapture some of the ground that has been conceded in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 General Elections.
Looking back to how elections went before independence became the overwhelming topic in Scottish politics, this was a very safe Labour seat. Both times it was contested on the current boundaries, in 2005 and 2010, the Red Rose party cruised to victory with 56% and 61% of the vote respectively.
The SNP took the seat in 2015 on a 31% swing on a day when the party ran roughshod over the established parties. On that day the nationalists went from six seats to 56 of the 59 available. Labour were able to wrestle it back with an ultra-thin majority in 2017 before again succumbing to Sturgeon’s party with Margaret Ferrier winning the seat back.
These are the type of seats many pundits are expecting to drift back towards the Labour party and in a by-election setting, where the seat became vacant due to the misdemeanours of the incumbent MP, that drift may well become ever more accelerated.
This will be the first big political test for the new SNP leader Humza Yousaf and one we fully expect him to fail. Labour are as short as 1/20 as of the time of writing to take the seat with us here at Betfred.
That looks short in isolation considering this would be a gain but when you consider the SNP took 45% of the vote in the last General Election across Scotland with Labour at 19%, latest opinion polls show that now looking much closer with the SNP in the high 30s and Labour in the mid-to-high 30s and Labour in the low-to-mid 30s across a range of recent surveys.
A swing of such nature would see the SNP lose around half of their seats in Scotland. With Rutherglen & Hamilton West considered the seventh best chance for a Labour gain from the Nationalists in a General Election, having this in a by-election setting is just a bonus for Labour who should be expected to win the seat and for it not to be all that close.
Don’t expect much from the Tories, Lib Dems or Greens here as this is very much a two-party race and one in which the Labour party should expect to romp home to give yet more momentum to leader Sir Keir Starmer ahead of a General Election campaign in the not-too-distant future.