'Unacceptable' no black MSPs as candidate left 'utterly broken' by experience of racism

A Parliament without a black MSP in 2021 would be unacceptable, two candidates hoping to be the first black representative in Holyrood have said.

Graham Campbell, the top SNP candidate on the Lothian regional list, and Ade Aibinu, the third Scottish Conservative candidate on the Glasgow regional list, were speaking on The Scotsman’s new political podcast The Steamie.

During the podcast, Mr Aibinu also told of one of his worst experiences of racism as a black politician, stating that one incident left him “utterly broken”.

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Both Mr Campbell and Mr Aibinu are likely to narrowly miss out on being elected to Holyrood if the votes are cast in a similar way to 2016.

No SNP MSPs were elected from the regional list in Lothian in 2016 and only two Scottish Conservatives were voted in via the list in Glasgow in that same election.

Asked if it was acceptable for a 21st-century Parliament to not have any representation from the black community, both candidates said “no”, but that it was ultimately up to the electorate to decide whether that would change.

Mr Campbell said: “No, but the electoral arithmetic matters. In the end it is the electorate that decides and it is up to parties to select people in winnable positions, which is partly why the mechanism was such a fraught process within our party.

Cllr Graham Campbell was elected Glasgow's and Scotland's first ever African Caribbean councillor

"In effect we had to have this mechanism to correct the lack of representation.

"I would rather have a process where organically you grow the candidates naturally, with experience and so on and we’ve got that process now underway, but that will probably only bear fruit in a few years."

Mr Aibinu said he hoped more people from the black community would stand in 2026 and that he hoped to inspire the next generation of politicians.

He said: “To answer your question directly, no it’s not. It’s not ideal that we would not have a black person in the Scottish Parliament in 2021.

"But even both of us standing as candidates, I hope it inspires people to engage with the political process.

"You never can tell. It is up to the electorates to decide who gets into the Scottish Parliament, it is up to the people of Glasgow, it is up to the people in the region where Graham is standing.

"I am hoping that in 2026 we will have more people from the black community standing for the Scottish Parliament.”

Speaking about his experience as a black politician, Mr Aibinu said he once left a public hustings event in 2019 “utterly broken” after he overheard a conversation where an audience member said he was “not MP material”.

Mr Campbell said he was regularly subject to abuse on social media and that people were surprised when they first met him due to his appearance.

You can listen to the full interview with both candidates on The Steamie.

The Steamie is available from all of your favourite podcast providers, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

If you like what you hear, please hit subscribe to never miss an episode – and leave a rating and review. It helps others discover the show and allows us to hear your feedback.

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