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by Margaret Taylor
06 June 2023
Labour gears up for by-election as MPs vote to suspend Margaret Ferrier

Labour gears up for by-election as MPs vote to suspend Margaret Ferrier

A by-election in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency has moved one step closer after MPs voted to suspend incumbent Margaret Ferrier for a 30-day period.

The suspension means a recall petition can now be started and, if 10 per cent of registered voters in the constituency sign it, a by-election will be triggered.

Scottish Labour, which has been focusing campaigning activity in the area in recent weeks, is encouraging local people to back the petition.

Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon, who lives in the constituency, wrote on Twitter that she will be signing the petition and urged others “to do so when the process begins”.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar tweeted that “it's time for change and a fresh start” for the constituency with its chosen candidate Michael Shanks, a teacher who has previously stood unsuccessfully for the party on several occasions.

In a statement, Shanks said: “This is welcome news for those of us who live here, but it is a disgrace that Margaret Ferrier has dragged this process out for so long, leaving her constituents unrepresented in parliament.

“We’ve spoken to thousands of voters who feel let down by Margaret Ferrier’s actions – people who made sacrifices during the pandemic and rightly expected their MP to do the same.

“The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West deserve so much better than a rule-breaking MP.

“I want to be the local champion this area deserves, and I am ready to fight for every vote and deliver the change Rutherglen and Hamilton West needs.”

Former SNP representative Ferrier, who sits as an independent after losing the SNP whip, has been suspended from parliament for breaching Covid lockdown rules in September 2020.

She spoke in parliament while awaiting the results of a Covid test during lockdown then, after learning her test was positive, travelled from London to Glasgow by train to avoid self-isolating in a London hotel.

Last year she was ordered to complete a 270-hour community payback order after admitting in Glasgow Sheriff Court that she culpably and recklessly exposed the public to the risk of infection, illness and death.

In March the House of Commons standards committee recommended she also be suspended from parliament and, after Ferrier lost an appeal, that was put to a Commons vote.

The vote was initially due to go ahead last month but was postponed as there were not enough MPs present for it to be valid.

Today, 185 members voted in favour of the suspension while 40 opposed it.

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