Political parties must do more to support women candidates to stand

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All political parties must do more to encourage women to stand as candidates a senior Scottish Conservative politician has claimed - despite her party having one of the worst records on fielding female candidates.

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said this general election her party had its highest number of women standing for election, with 23 women selected to contest seats.

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said this general election her party had its highest number of women standing for election. Picture: PA

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said this general election her party had its highest number of women standing for election. Picture: PA

However the Conservatives are still behind Scottish Labour which has 34 women standing across Scotland’s 59 seats and the Scottish Greens, who have a balanced list with 22 women standing.

Talat Yaqoob of the Women 50:50 campaign said with only Labour and the Greens at 50 per cent or above, three out of the five parties still had a “far way to go”. The Conservatives were on 39 per cent, the SNP on 34 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on just 30 per cent.

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She urged parties to back the campaign’s demand for legislative candidate quotas to be introduced in Scotland to ensure they all put forward at least 50 per cent women candidates.

Ms Wells admitted there was far more to be done but the increase was a sign of “progress”. She said Scotland Conservative Women, a new organisation within the party was designed to support women who stand in elected positions.

“At a time when some women say they are being hounded out of politics, it’s vital that parties mentor and encourage more women to come forward and the Scottish Conservatives are committed to doing that,” she said.

Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater said she was delighted with her party’s “perfectly gender balanced” list - though the party is not contesting all seats. “I’m proud that we have had brave and capable women coming forward to stand,” she said.