HUMZA Yousaf has said “contextual factors” including Margaret Ferrier’s “reckless actions” led to the SNP loss in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Labour’s Michael Shanks became Scotland’s newest MP after defeating the SNP’s Katy Loudon by 17,845 votes to 8399.

The results give the new Labour MP a majority 9446 – with Shanks having polled more than 58% of the votes cast. However, turnout stood at 37.2%, well below the 66.5% turnout in the last general election.

READ MORE: LIVE: Reaction as Labour win Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election

The First Minister admitted it had been a “difficult” night for his party, but suggested there were a number of factors that “played into” the loss, such as Ferrier’s actions and the police probe into the SNP’s finances.

Ferrier was suspended from the House of Commons for a breach of Covid rules which saw her take the train from London to Scotland after testing positive for the virus in 2020.

She had the SNP whip removed swiftly in the wake of that, and was later suspended from the House of Commons – with that sparking the recall petition which forced Thursday’s by-election vote.

Yousaf admitted that Ferrier (below) came up on the doorstep throughout the campaign and that SNP voters “did not come out” to back the party.

The National: Margaret Ferrier

“It was a disappointing, a tough night for the SNP, very difficult,” the FM told broadcasters in Dundee.

“But of course, there's no doubt a number of factors that played into that.

“And we were told time and time on the doorstep that Margaret Ferrier’s reckless actions were counting against us.

“Of course, the police investigation undoubtedly had an impact as well.

READ MORE: Scottish independence support leads support for Union, report finds

“But look, the SNP has to reflect, we've got to regroup, we've got to re-organise.

“We've had tough adversities, tough electoral results in the past, we've bounced back stronger, I’m very, very keen to make sure that we're fighting for the next electoral test.”

Asked how much responsibility he took for the result, Yousaf said the “buck does absolutely stop” with him.

“I think everybody knows that this particular by-election had some very difficult contextual factors around it,” he said.

“Margaret Ferrier’s reckless actions, of course, came up time and time again.

“And the police investigation, of course, has engulfed the party over the last few months and, again, came up on a number of doorsteps.

“There's a number of difficult issues around this by-election that have made it a very difficult night for us indeed.”

The FM added that he believed SNP voters “did not come out” at the by-election.

READ MORE: John Curtice: 'Uncertain' if Labour have 'sealed the deal' with electorate

“I've got to make sure I'm inspiring them, inspiring the public, to come out.

“But there's no doubt that any objective media commentator would say that there were very, very difficult contextual factors in this by-election for the SNP.”

Yousaf insisted that the party would “bounce back” from the defeat.

We told how the party has been questioning the FM’s independence strategy in the wake of the by-election result.