HUMZA Yousaf has said the SNP have a “credibility issue” following the party’s loss in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

Speaking to the Financial Times, the First Minister said his party has to do more to retain the support of voters concerned about issues including the cost of living.

Labour’s Michael Shanks won last week’s by-election with a 58.6% of the vote on a turnout of 37.19%.

“Let’s not beat around the bush, it was a difficult night,” Yousaf (below) said. “We didn’t inspire people to come out. Whether I like it or not, and I don’t like it, there are people who need to be convinced about our delivery.”

The National:

The FM’s comments come as the latest polling suggests the SNP would lead Labour by just two percentage points at a Westminster election.

Yousaf also dismissed speculation over his own position, saying he expects to lead his party into the next General Election, expected next year, as well as the one for Holyrood, due in 2026.

He said: “I’ve never paid much attention to those who have written me off. The focus has to be on the fact that for some people in Scotland, and I will say I feel unfairly, there is a credibility issue that some people have for the SNP and the Scottish Government.

“My concentration has to be on making sure the party delivers. If we deliver, we’ll be seen as credible. And if we are seen as credible, people will continue to support us.”

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The FM also argued his party could successfully make the point that independence was the best route for Scotland to become a more prosperous and equal nation.

“The top three issues for people are the cost of living crisis and NHS and public services and the economy. And of course, for me, independence is linked to all three.”