According to pollsters, the British Labor Party has the most to fear from a defeat in Rutherglen

Mark Diffley said the UK Labor leader was more nervous about the outcome of the by-election than either the SNP’s Humza Yousaf or the Scottish Labor Party’s Anas Sarwar.

With Labor widely expected to win the competition, the founder of the Diffley Partnership said failure would be a “huge loss” and would “damage their hopes” for next year.

The seat is on the fourth list of Labor targets in Scotland and one of the least significant in the country. Labor only needed a 5% rise to win it from the SNP.

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The by-election was confirmed on Tuesday after voters ousted former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier from office in a petition sparked by her breach of Covid lockdown rules.

Ms Ferrier won the seat in 2019 by 5,230 votes but was stripped of the party leader in 2020 after taking the train from London to Glasgow despite knowing she had the virus.

She was sentenced to 270 hours of community service after admitting reckless behavior and was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days, leading to a recall motion.

Mr Diffley spoke in an online discussion about the by-election with Kezia Dugdale, the former Scottish Labor leader who now runs the John Smith Center at the University of Glasgow, at an event organized by lobbyists Charlotte Street Partners.

He said: “I would argue that Labor is probably slightly more of a challenge than the SNP. We are now reasonably prepared to believe that Labor will win.

“A lot of this has to do with expectations. The expectation now is that Labor will win.

“So I think if Labor doesn’t do it, it’s going to feel like a pretty big loss.”

He said Labor “is likely to win” but the size of their majority is significant.

Labor won the seat from the SNP in 2017 by just 265 votes, or 0.5%, before losing it back to the SNP two years later.

“If Labor can’t win that seat, that really hurts their hopes for next year,” said Diffley. “I think both Anas and Humza have both a lot to gain and a lot to lose.”

He said Sir Keir was the “most nervous” leader in the by-election.

He said the 8,000 people who voted Conservative in 2019 could play a big part in tactically voting for one side.

Ms Dugdale said she was unsure whether Labor would seek to attack the SNP or use the by-election to attack the Tories as part of Labor’s nationwide effort to return to power.

She said: “It’s not clear to me yet which of these two enemies they will choose.

“But I think they have to make a choice and stick with it.”

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She said the SNP’s strategy was to talk about Scottish independence to appeal to its own constituents, while attacking Sir Keir’s stance on issues such as the two-child benefit ceiling.

Mr Diffley said Mr Yousaf could use the by-election to “come forward and show his courage” after a difficult start in the SNP’s leadership.

Many in the SNP have already written off their chances in the by-election and plan to attribute the loss to extraordinary circumstances and an atypical MP.

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