Labour’s approach to a key by-election shows the party is stuck in the past, the SNP’s candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West has said as she accuses the rival party of “untruth and misdirection”.

Katy Loudon said only her party can represent the constituency’s concerns on the cost-of-living as she accused her main opponent – Scottish Labour’s Michael Shanks – of “only talking about Margaret Ferrier” on the doorstep.

Meanwhile, she said she would push for Westminster to reinstate a £400 energy bill rebate to help struggling families over the winter period.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election
SNP leader Humza Yousaf joins SNP candidate Katy Loudon, left, ahead of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election (Robert Perry/PA)

Voters will go to the polls in the battleground constituency on Thursday after the seat was vacated by Ms Ferrier following a successful recall petition.

The former SNP MP was convicted of breaching Covid restrictions in 2020 by travelling by train from Scotland to Westminster while positive for the virus.

While there are 14 candidates standing for the Westminster seat, it is expected to be a tight race between the SNP and Labour.

Speaking to the PA news agency as the by-election campaign enters its final days, Ms Loudon said: “It’s not true to say that this area hasn’t had an MP – they have had an independent MP who as far as I know was working for them during that time.

“The story of this by-election is about contrast – not about what happened three years ago, it’s about what is happening just now and Labour are offering nothing.”

She added: “I was described as being parachuted in to a constituency where I’ve lived for 14 years. It’s a nonsense. And to say that we’ve not been out on the doorstep – there’s a lot of untruth and misdirection just now.

“They are not being straight with people about what is going on in this area, and they’re not being straight with people about what they are going to do for this area.”

Ms Loudon also denied claims she would always toe the party line, even if it meant going against the needs of her constituents.

Having come under fire for stating she would “always follow the position of my party in Cosla” in relation to council funding, she told PA: “My number one priority is the constituents who live here.”

Ms Loudon said she would happily speak out on issues which disproportionately impacted her constituents.

She said: “I’m not shy to come forward. I’ve got the ear of the First Minister and the ear of ministers, especially through this campaign.”

Mr Shanks said: ““While other parties have been relentlessly negative in their campaigns, Scottish Labour has been focused on the priorities of the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“From making work pay to putting money into the pockets of the people of the area, I have been proud to run a campaign that puts the people of the area first.

“But the fact is that the SNP’s campaign has been all about Labour – and it’s not hard to figure out why.

“From threatening to raise council and income tax on working families to closing neonatal units and police stations, it’s little surprise that the SNP isn’t running a positive campaign.

“The fact is that the SNP is so desperate they have started using exploitative zero-hours contracts in an attempt to deliver leaflets due to lack of volunteers.

“The Tories and the SNP have nothing to offer the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West but more failure, division and incompetence.”