A Glasgow student and candidate for the Scottish Green party has placed 5th in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, as a UofG pollster weighs in on the result.
A University of Glasgow fourth-year student has placed 5th in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election which saw an overall Labour victory. The former SNP seat was contested after its Member of Parliament, Margaret Ferrier, was charged with breaking Covid rules and subsequently recalled by her constituents.
20-year-old UofG student Cameron Eadie contested the seat for the Scottish Green party and polled 2% of the vote. Reflecting on the result, Cameron told The Glasgow Guardian: “I have put tackling child poverty and the climate crisis front and centre of my campaign. These are the defining issues of our time and of our future. This was our party’s first time standing in this constituency and I am grateful to everybody who has put their trust in us and voted for our bold and positive vision.
“This is a great springboard for the Scottish Greens and one that we will build on as we approach the general election and the next Scottish Parliament elections. We have spoken to thousands of residents and put the climate firmly on the agenda. We have led the calls for the fundamental change that is so badly needed. This stands in stark contrast to a disgraceful, reactionary and increasingly extreme Tory government that is wrecking our climate and waging a vile culture war against LGBTQ+ people, refugees and any other minority group that they can punch down against.
“I congratulate Michael Shanks on his election. He has made some big promises and I hope that he lives up to his word and stands up to the Labour leadership on the brutal two child benefit cap that they have promised to uphold, as well as the disastrous Brexit that they have pledged to continue. Scottish Green voices have never been so vital. We will build on this important result and continue to fight for people and planet.”
Despite polling just 2% of the total vote, sources within the Scottish Green party have referred to the campaign as a valuable opportunity to gather data that could allow them to perform better in this area and the southside of Glasgow as a whole in the future.
The result overall saw an unprecedented victory for Scottish Labour, with them taking 58.6% of the vote. This represented a 20% swing from the Scottish National Party’s previous victory. Remarkably, the election was so dominated by Labour and the SNP that all other candidates, including Cameron Eadie, lost their deposit after receiving less than the mandated 5% share of the vote.
University of Glasgow doctoral researcher and pollster Mark McGeoghegan remarked that this result was indeed unexpected. Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian he said: “I don’t think I saw any serious political commentators even entertain the notion of a thirty point Labour win like we saw – 15 points, 20 points, maybe even kind of 25 points at the absolute upper end so it was certainly outwith the range of expected outcomes. “
However, McGeoghegan is careful to make it clear that this result wasn’t necessarily as remarkable by itself, as Rutherglen and Hamilton West has been a historically Labour dominated seat: “if Labour are going to make any sort of comeback at all, even the weakest comeback, they would win Rutherglen and Hamilton West because it is one of the most [pro-Labour] seats in Scotland.
“However when looking at this on a national level you need to temper this result obviously:
turnout was down, we don’t know how the 23,000 odd voters who showed up in 2019 and didn’t show up this time would vote. And you wouldn’t have all of the by-election vagaries, like the Margaret Ferrier scandal and all the media attention around that, you wouldn’t have the amount of resources being poured into the seat either by the Labour party in particular either because they would be spread more thinly at a general election. So there’s a lot, there’s lots of factors that lead you to think in a general election, they wouldn’t win it by 39 points, but I would be extremely confident based on this that they will win 20 or 25 seats in Scotland, maybe even more than that.
“So I think it’s that besides the sheer size of the victory, I think that this shows that Labour are at least doing as well as the national polls suggest and that they may even be doing even better.”
McGeoghegan also has advice for the government, who, if he is correct, may be heading for a big defeat in the next general election: “if you’re the SNP, you need to treat those voters who stayed at home as if they voted Labour, because you need to give them a reason to come out and vote for you. And the reality is if you don’t reset the narrative here and start to shift opinion particularly on Humza Yousag as a leader, then you’re leaving the door open for Labour to articulate became the vision for those left leaning pro independence voters when they don’t think independence is likely to happen any anytime soon.
“So, speaking to the SNP, I would caution against the line of thinking that this result was an anomaly in its specific circumstances because I think it probably leads to quite damaging complacency on their part.”