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Ms Ferrier became the SNP MP for the constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, near Glasgow, five years ago. She lost her seat to Labour’s Ged Killen of the Labour Party at the 2017 general election before regaining it two years later. But on October 1, she was suspended from the SNP for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules, with Scotland’s First Minister calling on her to resign her parliamentary seat. Just under a week later, Ms Ferrier’s Rutherglen constituency association said they had asked her to resign her seat over the scandal, but four days later, the SNP MP indicated she would not resign due to the incident.
She made her return to the House of Commons last Thursday, with Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard describing her appearance in Parliament as “a gross insult to her constituents”.
Now Alliance 4 Unity, the campaign group launched by Mr Galloway with the intention of ousting the SNP from the Scottish Government, has said Ms Ferrier’s refusal to resign means it is likely the Parliamentary Standards & Privileges committee will now have to suspend her for 10 working days.
The move would tigger a recall petition and, subsequently could cause a by-election.
Mr Galloway has launched what he described as the “largest ever crowdfunder in the history of by-elections”, with the aim of raising £100,000 to stand in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and “take the fight to the SNP”.
He has not been an MP since 2015, after holding seats in Bradford West; Bethnal Green and Bow; and Glasgow Kelvin over the course of 28 years since 1987.
Mr Galloway said: “When Margaret Ferrier made the idiotic decision to become a coronavirus superspreader, I led from the front – starting a petition with over 10,000 signatures to date, demanding she resign.
“It is abundantly clear that the Parliamentary Standards committee should suspend Ferrier, triggering a recall petition.
“I could get the necessary 8,000 signatures to force a by-election in a single weekend, if not an afternoon, such is the strength of feeling in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.
“I have dedicated my life to advocating for Scotland in Parliament, spending 18 years representing neighbouring Glasgow in the House of Commons.
“With a proven track record in Parliament, I hope constituents agree that I will be a formidable MP for the area – putting Rutherglen and Hamilton West on the map for the right reasons!”
The crowdfunder has launched, but in the event a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West does not take place, all funds will be added to the campaign fund for Alliance 4 Unity’s Holyrood election campaign in May 2021.
Mr Galloway first suggested he would stand as a candidate to replace Ms Ferrier in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West just under a week after her suspension from the SNP last month.
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The leader of the Alliance 4 Unity movement said he wanted Unionist parties to back a single candidate, stressing this method would give them a better chance of defeating the SNP in any future Holyrood elections.
On October 7, he wrote on Twitter: “The three main pro-union parties better make a deal whereby they all stand aside for each other – starting with the by-election which must be called for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.
“Or they will all be facing me in that by-election (no matter who phones me).”
Mr Galloway has been a huge critic of Ms Sturgeon and the SNP Government in Scotland, particularly around the ruling party’s continuous calls for a second referendum on independence.
Alliance 4 Unity has quickly received a huge following on social media just weeks after its launch and in an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Galloway warned: “The SNP is in tatters, and now is the time for those of us who support the Union to make that pressure count.
“They are beginning to turn and it’s time to chase them off the field at the election in May.
“It is now time for Nicola Sturgeon to go. I started a petition for her resignation and it quickly gained tens of thousands of votes.
“It is only treading water now because Resign Margaret Ferrier, another of my petitions, is trending on social media and is the call of the hour.”
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