Comment: ‘A woman’s place is in the Scottish Parliament ‘

We’re half way there. Yesterday, Scottish Labour chose a strong woman to fight the Dunfermline by-election.

It may have taken some comrades longer than others to come to the conclusion that a “woman’s place is in the Scottish Parliament”, but by selecting Cara Hilton, the Labour Party has made the right decision.

Let’s hope that, whatever the result, Cara’s candidacy will encourage other women in the Labour Party to put themselves forward for election, whether in Holyrood, Westminster, or their council chamber. And that the Labour Party – led, of course, by a strong woman – will build on this decision to do all it can to promote gender equality in future contests.

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No doubt there will be some who will continue to carp that positive action is “unfair” but their whines are being drowned out by the irresistible call for equality. We were heartened by the, largely, positive reaction to our call last week for Labour and SNP to select women candidates in this by-election.

Now it’s the turn of the SNP to make a bold statement about how Scotland values women and girls, and select a woman candidate. It looks like they might. And if, as anticipated, one of the women whose names are in the frame is selected, it will be because she is the best candidate.

Best is, of course, a multi-layered notion. She might be best for some because the SNP should be at the forefront of any drive to encourage more women MSPs. Others might decide a woman is best placed to contest the seat, as part of the process of exorcising the stain of Bill Walker from their and Dunfermline’s experience. Both are legitimate reasons.

If the SNP and Scottish Labour do field women candidates, it will show that even when the parties seem poles apart, there’s room for agreement on some seminal issues. That can only be a very good thing.

• Susan Dalgety joined the Labour Party in 1980 and works for the Active Learning Centre, a democracy/gender NGO. Kate Higgins is a pro-independence supporter and blogs at A Burdz Eye View.