Scottish Labor has exceeded expectations. In an important and significant victory in last Friday’s elections, he obtained 58.5% of the votes in Rutherglen and Hamilton West. Leading in only one of Scotland’s 59 constituencies, he achieved a vote transfer from the SNP of around 20.4%.
It was not surprising that the pro-independence Scottish National Party was the biggest loser, at a time marked by scandals and internal divisions. Nicola Sturgeon, who served as Prime Minister between 2014 and 2023, resigned from his position and leadership of the party in February. In June, a scandal involving donations to the Scottish National Party for a referendum was exposed, and Sturgeon was detained for questioning.
Humza Yousaf, the first Muslim to lead Scotland, was Nicola Sturgeon’s successor in the Scottish National Party and government. But Youssef’s government, which appeared last week on the cover of Time magazine as part of the “Next Generation Leaders” series, failed the test at the ballot box. In the face of defeat, he considered that “the Scottish National Party must reflect, regroup and reorganize itself.”
The SNP’s weaknesses have created the conditions for Labour’s success, hoping to be the leading political force in 2024. The candidate-elect, Michael Shanks, said in his victory speech: “There is no place in this country where Labor cannot win.” Anas Sorour, the party’s leader, described the result as an “earth-shattering victory.”
These by-elections could be a starting point for the relaunch of Labour, which leads opinion polls across the UK by almost 17 points over the Conservatives. These results underscore the success of Keir Starmer’s leadership, which is less divisive than that of his predecessor James Corbyn, and is increasingly well placed to win the 2024 general election. Starmer, who was also involved in the Scottish election campaign, recognized the strategic importance of this victory: “I… “I have always said that restoring the trust of the Scottish people is essential. Tonight’s victory is the culmination of three and a half years of hard work and humility.”
But to win, Labour, a unionist party, will have to convince Scots to vote there, or despite demands for independence. The participation rate in these elections decreased (37%) compared to the last general elections (66.5%). The rate of abstention from voting, as well as the fact that they are local and early elections, limits extrapolations. But the momentum they have created, for Labor and Starmer, is undeniable.
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