Top academic warns Labours victory over SNP really not good news for Sunak

Michael Shanks wins Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election

Labour’s crushing defeat of the SNP in a Scottish by-election is “really not good news” for Rishi Sunak, according to a leading academic.

Professor Matthew Goodwin said the 20 percent swing to Sir Keir Starmer’s party in yesterday’s Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election suggests they are outperforming national polling, which already puts them ahead of the Tories.

He added if the swing was repeated at a general election Labour would take 40 seats north of the border, opening the door to No 10 for Sir Keir.

Prof Goodwin, who writes about politics on his Substack, said it means “life has become a lot harder” for Mr Sunak’s Conservatives as they will need to pick up more constituencies across England.

The University of Kent academic told the Express: “Essentially the better Labour do in Scotland, the easier their path to winning a majority government.

READ MORE: SNP could face wipeout after being crushed in nightmare by-election – pollster

“The key point coming out of this by-election for me is that Labour are now outperforming their position in the polls.

“So they’re doing better at recent by-elections than the national polling would suggest, which is not good news for the Conservatives and again suggests that we’re heading towards a Labour government.

“I think the other thing worth mentioning here is that this provides further evidence for how Labour are now poised to re-emerge as a dominant political force in Scotland.

“Were we to apply these numbers in the by-election to a national general election, then it’s likely that Labour would pick up about 40 seats, up from just two at the moment. And that again makes life much easier for Keir Starmer.

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“For the Conservatives, while they might cheer the decline of the SNP and the decline of support for Scottish independence which has been falling in recent months, what all of this really does mean is that life has become a lot harder for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives because now they are going to need to do much better across non-London England in order to fend off likely Labour gains in Scotland.

“So this is really not good news for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives even if it is good news overall for our United Kingdom.”

Labour candidate Michael Shanks secured 17,845 votes, well ahead of the 8,399 for SNP rival Katy Loudon.

After gaining more than 58 percent of the votes cast, Mr Shanks has a majority of 9,446.

He becomes Labour’s second MP in Scotland – far off the party’s more than 40 in 2010 before representation collapsed in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum.

The Scottish Conservatives came in third place, with their candidate Thomas Kerr taking 1,192 votes.

A gleeful Sir Keir said his party “blew the doors off” in the Scottish contest as he stepped out in the constituency today alongside Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and his newest MP Mr Shanks.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf admitted it was a “tough day” and “disappointing result” for the nationalist party.

Thursday’s by-election was sparked after a recall petition against Margaret Ferrier, who had won the seat for the SNP in 2019 with a majority of 5,230.

Ms Ferrier had the SNP whip removed for breaching Covid rules in 2020, and after remaining as an independent MP was suspended from the Commons.

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