Labour seeks gender balance in 2016 candidates

Dugdale said gender balance was "something to shout about". Picture: Greg Macvean
Dugdale said gender balance was "something to shout about". Picture: Greg Macvean
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At least half of Scottish Labour’s new candidates for next year’s Holyrood election will be women, the party’s leader has said.

Kezia Dugdale has vowed to seek out new talent to stand in the 2016 vote, pledging that at least 50 per cent will be female.

The move is aimed at bringing a better gender balance to the Scottish Parliament and helping to “shatter the glass ceiling for women in Scotland”.

Ms Dugdale has already announced a gender-balanced front bench team for Scottish Labour, mirroring First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s equal gender split in the Scottish Cabinet.

The parties are under pressure to address gender balance next year after the proportion of female MSPs elected to Holyrood fell to just over a third in the 2011 elections.

Women also made up less than 30 per cent of the candidates at that election.

They remained under-represented during the general election in May, with females making up less than a third of candidates for the Scottish seats at Westminster.

Ms Dugdale said: “We have female leaders of the three main political parties in Scotland. That’s something to shout about. But we can never make the mistake of thinking that it’s job done on equality for women in Scotland.

“I want to attract new talent and fresh faces to Scottish Labour for next year’s election. My commitment today is that at least half of Scottish Labour’s new candidates will be women. There is so much to do to shatter the glass ceiling for women in Scotland.”

It came as the new leader handed a key role to Neil Findlay - Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign organiser in Scotland - in her front bench team. Mr Findlay has been appointed as trade union liaison.

Rhoda Grant and Drew Smith also join the team while Iain Gray, the party’s opportunity spokesman, will be supported by Mark Griffin and John Pentland.

Elaine Murray joins Graeme Pearson on the justice brief while Jackie Baillie, public services spokeswoman, is supported by Richard Simpson, Lewis Macdonald and Siobhan McMahon.