STEPHEN Flynn dismissed a question from a BBC reporter about whether Humza Yousaf was “in trouble” following the SNP’s defeat in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

It comes after  Labour's Michael Shanks was named as Scotland’s newest MP after defeating Katy Loudon by 17,845 votes to 8399.

During an interview with Good Morning Scotland, the SNP’s Westminster leader reflected on the loss.

Asked if Yousaf “is in trouble”, Flynn told host Martin Geissler: “It’s funny because I was expecting you to ask me this and I was reflecting on 2013 when we lost the Dunfermline by-election, when in 2014 I think it was we lost the Cowdenbeath by-election, of course when Alex Salmond was in charge.

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“And there was no suggestion at all that Alex Salmond was in any trouble.”

Geissler responded by saying there was no “dissent in the ranks then” and pointed to the recent suspension of Fergus Ewing.

Flynn replied: “If I may Martin, I don’t think the First Minister is in any trouble whatsoever. He’s had a lot to deal with internally in the party, I think the public are well aware of that.

“I think he’s done a remarkably good job in that regard and I hope when we go into conference, because that’s only 10 days or so away, that the First Minister is in a position to reassert why voting for the SNP is so important and I’m confident he’ll be able to do that.”

Asked if he expected “open criticism” at the party's October conference, Flynn said it was “difficult to speculate” what individuals would do but that it would be “very unusual”.

Time to 'reflect quickly'

Flynn also said the SNP must “reflect quickly” on the by-election loss during an interview with BBC Radio 4. 

He said he looked forward” to meeting Shanks (below) in the House of Commons to hold him to account on the promises the candidate had made.

The National: Labour celebrated what Sir Keir Starmer hailed as a ‘sesimic’ win in in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West byelection, with Michael Shanks (left) elected as the new MP for the area. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Asked about the electoral loss, he said: “It’s always difficult to win any election and Michael deserves credit for doing so.

“I do look forward to meeting him in the House of Commons next week and perhaps holding him to some of the promises he’s made to the electorate particularly in relation to the two-child cap and his position on Brexit which of course is very different from Keir Starmer’s.

“In terms of the by-election itself, I think we need to reflect upon the context. You touched upon it there with Margaret Ferrier, who of course disgraced herself in relation to her actions during Covid, the party’s had multiple internal difficulties.”

Flynn explained he felt that voters still “correlated” Ferrier with the party she was elected with even though she was an independent MP when the seat was vacated.

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Flynn also pointed to low voter turnout, saying that was a “reflection on us as well as everyone else”.

He continued: “I don’t think we can shy away from the fact we’ve been quite heavily beat in this by-election and I think internally for the party we need to reflect upon that, we need to reflect upon it quickly and seek to turn it around before the General Election next year.”

Asked what he felt needed to change, he said: “I think it would be remiss of me just a few hours after the by-election, having only had a couple of hours sleep myself to do a full post-mortem on the by-election itself, but we can’t shy away this is a very challenging set of results

“What we need to do as a collective, we win as a collective and we lose as a collective, is come together and outline where we go from here and how we reinspire those voters who stayed at home, who didn’t come out and vote SNP to come back to us and go and vote to believe in the things we believe in.”

It comes as both Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar hailed the Labour win as "seismic".