SNP by-election candidate insists focus is on campaigning after Grady comments

The SNP’s candidate in a crucial by-election has insisted her main focus is on campaigning after she appeared to welcome an MP who was accused of sexual harassment to canvass for her.

Katy Loudon, the SNP’s candidate in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election on October 5, told The Scotsman on Saturday that she would “welcome” Patrick Grady to the constituency to campaign for her.

Last month, Scottish Labour called for Mr Grady to be banned from the constituency.

Mr Grady apologised in Parliament after being found to have acted inappropriately towards a party staffer.

He had the SNP whip restored in December following a six-month suspension.

Launching the campaign in Rutherglen on Saturday, Ms Loudon told the PA news agency her focus was “very much” on campaigning after she was asked if Mr Grady’s presence would be more of a hindrance than a help.

She said: “The vast majority of our days at the moment are spent out chapping doors and speaking to the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West and that’s the priority.

“That’s where my focus is just now and that’s where it’s going to remain, listening to people’s priorities and their concerns.”

But in The Scotsman on Saturday, she said she would welcome any activist who wanted to help.

She told the newspaper: “I’ve never been involved in any of the party’s disciplinary proceedings or sat on any of those committees.

“The party has taken action, the Westminster committee has taken action. If Patrick (Grady) comes along here to campaign as an activist then he would be doing so in that capacity.”

Alongside the party’s Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, Ms Loudon marked the official launch of the by-election campaign on Saturday in Rutherglen.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West SNP local candidate Katy Loudon, centre, with (left to right) SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, deputy First Minister Shona Robison and deputy party leader Keith Brown, as they officially launch the SNP’s campaign for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, at the Kings Park Hotel in Rutherglen, Glasgow

Asked whether a second launch event was a sign that the party was worried about the outcome, Ms Loudon told PA: “Absolutely not, we’ve got a date now and it feels like we have been campaigning for months and that’s because we have.

“Usually in the summer we would be out chapping doors and speaking to people anyway.

“It’s an absolute honour to have all of this help and all of this support to go out and do this as much as possible.”

Ms Loudon said the party was “very confident” about its chances of winning the by-election, adding: “I wouldn’t be standing in this by-election if I didn’t think I was the best candidate to represent the area.

“Labour are running around just now as if they’ve won this, they’ve practically got the bunting and the balloons out already.

“There’s a lot of hard work to be done, but we’re taking nothing for granted.”