FINALLY, it’s polling day in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Bring it on!

Rutherglen has become emblematic of the SNP’s litany of broken promises and failed leadership – and the news about the planned police station closures is just the latest in a long line of disappointments.

Before I start talking about today’s by-election, it’s worth reflecting upon the bigger picture here.

Why are Rutherglen, Cambuslang and Blantyre police stations under threat of closure?

The cold, hard facts reveal that there are now 1000 fewer police officers in Scotland than there were in 2013.

One must question how, in a decade, such a massive reduction in the police force has occurred under the SNP’s watch.

Public safety is at the heart of any government’s duty.

Communities across Scotland rely on an effective, adequately resourced police force.

That is not just to maintain law and order, but also to maintain the trust and confidence of the public. Yet, in Rutherglen, as across Scotland, this trust is eroding.

Residents now find themselves questioning the priorities of a government seemingly indifferent to their concerns. The SNP’s decision-making paints a picture of a party more interested in national and international posturing than in the real, day-to-day lives of its citizens.

So, let’s return to Rutherglen, Cambuslang and Blantyre.

The proposed closure of police stations is a microcosm of the SNP’s inability to keep their promises. It’s not just about bricks and mortar.

It’s about a presence. It’s about reassurance.

Police stations are a beacon of safety, a constant reminder that the state is there to protect its citizens.

Removing them sends a chilling message: you’re on your own.

Such actions, or perhaps more fittingly, inactions, have consequences. Rutherglen’s community and countless others are left feeling vulnerable, sidelined and ignored.

The statistics don’t lie, and neither do the voices of local residents.

Those 1000 fewer officers equate to thousands of lost hours on the beat, countless missed opportunities to deter crime, and innumerable moments when a local resident might have felt that bit safer seeing an officer on their street.

However, with today’s by-election for Rutherglen and Hamilton West there is a glimmer of hope.

Michael Shanks, the Labour candidate, offers the prospect of a fresh start.

Not burdened by a legacy of broken promises or failed leadership, Shanks represents a departure from the status quo, a return to prioritising the needs of local communities, and a commitment to public safety.

The choice for Rutherglen and Hamilton is clear: more of the same — reduced police numbers and police stations, diminished public services, minsters that let down their constituents (just think why this by-election is even happening, thanks to Margaret Ferrier’s Covid rule-breaking) or a fresh start with Michael.

I know which one I would be going for!

Years of observing the SNP’s missteps, from education to health to policing, have solidified a commitment to do better, to be better.

Scotland deserves better than the SNP’s repeated failures.

Rutherglen, with its proud history and vibrant community, deserves better than an empty police station.

In today’s by-election, Rutherglen and Hamilton can make a powerful statement.

They can choose a future where community and safety come first, where promises are kept, and where the needs of local residents are prioritised over party politics.

It’s time for change. It’s time for a fresh start. For Rutherglen, for Hamilton, and for Scotland.