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Britain's Labour Party claims 'seismic' win in Scottish by-elections

Keir Starmer, leader of the UK's Labour Party, and Victoria Starmer, his wife, arrive at the party's annual conference in Liverpool. (File photo via Bloomberg)

UK's Labour Party has won a bigger-than-expected victory in Scotland's parliamentary by-elections, signaling the declining popularity of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party.

"This is a seismic result. People in Rutherglen and Hamilton West have sent a clear message – it is time for change. And it is clear they believe that this changed Labour Party can deliver it," Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said in a statement on Friday.

The Labour Party's candidate Michael Shanks bagged 17,845 votes in a landslide victory against his rival from the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) with 8,399 votes, raising expectations that Starmer's party could unseat the Scottish nationalists and go on to win a UK-wide vote against the Tory.

Opinion polls show Labour is currently on track to win the general elections next year -- and after an absence of more than a decade -- return to No. 10.

SNP leader Humza Yousaf, in the meantime, described the loss of a parliamentary seat in the by-elections as a "disappointing night" for the Scottish nationalists.

Once the dominant force in Scottish politics, Labour's influence declined at a national level after Gordon Brown's government surrendered the PM's office to David Cameron, the then-leader of the Conservative Party, in 2010.

Meanwhile, the current leader of the Conservative Party, Rishi Sunak, finds himself in hot water, grappling with high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis since taking office last year.

UK's most prominent pollster, Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, said the recent win is a "remarkably good result" for the Labour party.

"It's well above the kinds of swings we've seen in the opinion polls in Scotland. The Labour vote is up to nearly 59 percent, that's 24 points," he noted.

"That means the Labour vote in the constituency is almost as high as it was in 2010 before the tsunami that swept the Labour party from virtually every constituency in Scotland."

Curtice added the swing of about 20 percent was more or less twice what has been showing in the opinion polls.

The polling guru predicted that if this kind of swing were to be replicated across Scotland as a whole then Labour would "quite clearly" be the dominant party in Scotland again.

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