Scotland politics

SNP conference: Party backs new gender balance rules

SNP conference Image copyright PA
Image caption Delegates at the SNP conference in Glasgow voted for the gender balance changes

The SNP has introduced new rules which could result in all-women shortlists for constituencies where nationalist MSPs are stepping down.

The vote in favour of change will allow the SNP's National Executive Committee (NEC) to "direct" local branches to introduce gender balance.

An amendment set out to reject the plan was defeated.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who is the party's national women's officer, said she welcomed the result.

She added: "Women represent 52% of the population in Scotland - yet for too long have been massively underrepresented in Scottish public life. And while the SNP has made some progress in our selection of candidates for the General Election, it was always clear that more action needed to be taken.

"Women are bearing the brunt of the Tory government's austerity cuts, suffer from the effects of a gender pay gap and a clear lack of representation.

"In 21st Century Scotland this is simply unacceptable and shows exactly why we need Scotland's women to be fully represented in our national parliament."

The new NEC powers will be used ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016.

What did members vote to do?

  1. Where any incumbent SNP constituency MSP announces their intention to stand down, the National Executive Committee may direct that an all-women shortlist should be submitted by the Constituency Branch or Association.
  2. In any constituency where more than one candidate is nominated, at least one of those candidates must be female. The National Executive Committee will have authority to add candidates to shortlists to achieve this.
  3. The National Executive Committee may take steps to balance the number of male and female candidates being submitted for regional list rankings, and will have authority to nominate additional candidates to achieve this.

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