Boost for Kelly
But SNP close the gap in constituency
Rutherglen MSP James Kelly received a boost last week when Labour won a council by-election in Blantyre.
Mo Razzaq held on to the seat for Labour, gaining 47 per cent of first preference votes.
The by-election was called following the death of Labour councillor Jim Handibode.
Blantyre makes up part of the Rutherglen constituency in Scottish elections, and the SNP had been big favourites to take the seat following their big win in Rutherglen and Hamilton Westin May
Mr Razzaq’s victory will give the incumbent hope that he can fend off the challenge of the SNP’s Clare Haughey
However, there was reason for the SNP to cheer as the result represented a swing of eight per cent from Labour to the SNP. A similar swing across the constituency would see them take the seat.
First-count voting was: Lab 1476, SNP 1236, Conservative 140, SSP 122, Liberal Democrat 92, Ukip 59.
Mr Kelly told the Reformer the result represented significant inroads in Labour’s attempts to stage a fight back after a miserable 2015.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the people of Blantyre have elected Mo Razzaq as a Labour councillor.
“In terms of next year’s Scottish Parliament election, this result represents a boost to Labour’s chances. I recognise that we still have a big fight on our hands, but I will be continuing to campaign on issues that matter to local people like good housing, the living wage and a strong NHS.
“I will be working flat out from now until polling day to secure a Labour victory in the constituency.”
The SNP candidate was also happy after the result, with Labour’s lead in the constituency cut significantly. Ms Haughey said: “Firstly I would like to congratulate Councillor Razzaq on his election.
“The SNP can take many positives from the by election. Our vote was up by nine per cent while the Labour vote fell by seven per cent.
“Thursday’s poll gave the highest percentage of votes SNP have had in a council election in Blantyre. It is also worth noting that the Labour candidate relied on preferences from both the Conservative Party and UKIP to win.
“I will continue to work hard to secure the votes of the electorate across the Rutherglen constituency in next May’s Scottish Parliamentary elections.”
Meanwhile, James Kelly also spoke about MSP’s pay rise of 2.7 per cent which was confirmed last week.
He said: “We changed last year to break the link between and MSP’s pay and an MP’s pay so we didn’t get a massive rise. Our pay was then linked to the average across the public sector and that was absolutely the right thing to do.
“The rise that has been awarded is in line with that.”
Victory The Labour team celebrate after their win