New protocols for voter ID have been instated ahead of the South Lanarkshire by-election, marking Scotland’s first referendum recall. This came about as constituents decided to unseat Margaret Ferrier, the former SNP MP who was found violating Covid protocols.
With the details of the general election anticipated in 2024 becoming clearer, both the Labour and SNP parties are seeing this as an opportunity for an early advantage. The House of Commons seat for South Lanarkshire has 14 candidates vying for it in the upcoming election. Voting centres will be operational from 07:00 to 22:00.
For Labour, winning in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, could significantly enhance its chances of forming a majority government in the UK during the general elections, slated to be held by early 2025. Also, in focus is the SNP’s aspirations to ace its first big electoral challenge since Humza Yousaf took Nicola Sturgeon’s place as the leader.
The SNP secured Rutherglen and Hamilton West in 2019 with a majority of 5,230, marking it as one of its most vulnerable seats in Westminster. In the past three general elections, the constituents have oscillated between the SNP and Labour parties.
The decision for a by-election was made after approximately 12,000 constituents signed a petition seeking Ferrier’s recall. After violating Covid protocols in 2020, Ferrier received a community service sentence for 270 hours. Post her removal from the SNP Westminster group, she remained a part of the Commons as an independent member before the recall.
This by-election also marks the initial implementation of the new voter ID rules in Scotland. Fear of voters being refused at polling stations has led the Electoral Commission to collaborate with the South Lanarkshire Council to create awareness about the requirements.
Acceptable forms of ID include passports, driving licences or National Entitlement Cards regarding concessionary travel like bus passes for those above 60, disabled, or those under 22. These rules, however, will only be applicable for Westminster votes and English local elections and will not be implemented for Scottish Parliament or council elections.
In accordance with Westminster’s first-past-the-post protocol, only one candidate will be elected. The official proclamation of results is estimated to be in the early morning on Friday.
Here are the confirmed list of contestants for the by-election (in alphabetical order):
Gloria Adebo (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Bill Bonnar (Scottish Socialist Party), Garry Cooke (Independent), Andrew Daly (Independent), Cameron Eadie (Scottish Greens), Prince Ankit Love, Emperor of India (Independent), Niall Fraser (Scottish Family Party), Thomas Kerr (Scottish Conservatives), Chris Sermanni (Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Michael Shanks (Scottish Labour), and Colette Walker (Independence for Scotland Party).