Call for female candidates for Holyrood role
A former SNP candidate for Westminster has called on local party members to look to an all female candidate list for Banff and Buchan in next year's Holyrood elections.
The comments from Paul Roberston come after the announcement this week of the retiral of MSP Stewart Stevenson who will not be seeking re-election in 2021.
In a statement Mr Robertson said: "As many of you will have read, our MSP, Stewart Stevenson will be retiring at the 2021 Scottish Parliament Election.
"Stewart has been relentlessly hardworking for the people of the north-east.
"I first met Stewart at the age of 21 when I began working in the office of then MP for Banff and Buchan, Eilidh Whiteford.
"Over the years, and especially as the SNP's candidate for Banff and Buchan at last year's general election, Stewart has been an invaluable source of advice, support and mentorship for me.
"Who succeeds Stewart as the SNP's candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast will be a matter for local party members.
"Although many local activists have asked me to consider seeking the nomination, I have decided not to do so."
He explained: "Only 45 of 129 MSPs elected in 2016, just 34 per cent are women.
"I believe it is important that Scotland's Parliament reflects our society and the next Scottish Parliament election is an opportunity to achieve a better gender balance and representation of underrepresented groups.
"The SNP's rules allow for an all women shortlist to replace retiring MSPs.
"It is my personal view that our local SNP branches should embrace this opportunity to select one of the many impressive women in our part of the world - who is rooted in and has experience of working for our local communities to succeed Stewart as the SNP's candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast and, with hard work to elect her, ultimately as our MSP."