Labour increased its vote share from 31.9% to 38.4% in the Airdrie and Shotts by-election on Thursday, but the SNP still managed to hold onto the Scottish Westminster seat and Anum Qaisar-Javed was elected.
Airdrie and Shotts (Westminster):
SNP: 46.4% (+1.3)
LAB: 38.4% (+6.4)
CON: 12.9% (-4.7)
LDEM: 1.0% (-2.6)
SDP: 0.7% (+0.7)
SU: 0.3% (+0.3)
REFUK: 0.2% (+0.2)
UKIP: 0.2% (+0.2)
(via Britain Elects)
Kenneth Stevenson, Labour’s candidate, is a lecturer, engineer and councillor. He was joined on the campaign trail by Anas Sarwar, UK deputy leader Angela Rayner and new UK party chair Anneliese Dodds.
Commenting on the race on Monday, Sarwar said: “Scottish Labour is building the alternative to the SNP and here in Airdrie and Shotts we are showing that Labour is back on the pitch.”
The Scottish Labour leader described Stevenson as “Labour to his core” and “dedicated to standing up for the people of the area”. He also pledged to “fight for a national recovery that is fair for all” in Holyrood.
Triggered by the resignation of the SNP’s Neil Gray, the by-election took place a week after the Holyrood elections on May 6th. Gray quit as an MP to stand as an MSP for the area, and he is now in the Scottish parliament.
There was a low turnout of 34.3% on Thursday, unlike the impressively high turnout of 59% a week earlier. While this should benefit Labour, as well as tactical voting, the party had not expected to win the seat.
Until the collapse of Labour’s vote in Scotland in 2015, Airdrie and Shotts was a safe seat for the party. It was represented by John Reid, who held top cabinet posts including Home Secretary, and by Helen Liddell.
Qaisar-Javed, the new MP for Airdrie and Shotts, was a teacher of modern studies and politics. Both she and the Conservative candidate Ben Callaghan were Labour supporters before switching after the independence referendum.