Anas Sarwar Vows Second Deputy Scottish Labour Leader To Ensure Gender-Balance

14 September 2017, 06:41

Anas Sarwar

Scottish Labour leadership candidate Anas Sarwar has pledged to create a second deputy leader role to ensure gender-balance at the top of the party.

The forthcoming leadership election is expected to be fought between the Glasgow MSP and his colleague Richard Leonard, while Alex Rowley is the party's current deputy.

Under the proposed change, at least one deputy would always be a woman, regardless of the gender of the party's leader, Mr Sarwar said.

If he is elected, the change will be put to the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) and the 2018 Scottish Labour annual conference for approval.

Along with the leader, the two deputy leaders will play a key role in party campaigns and sit on the party's SEC, he added.

Mr Sarwar is also committing to a Labour shadow cabinet that has a gender balance of at least 50:50, and a requirement that at least 50% of parliamentary candidates are women.

In addition, he has promised to set up a commission to tackle occupational segregation in Scotland's workplaces and the gender pay gap, seek to improve legislation to boost the number of women on public boards, ensure Scottish Labour prepares "gender audits" of Holyrood legislation and press for a statutory requirement of "gender budgeting" across all policy areas.

He said: "I want Labour to be at the vanguard of the fight for gender equality in society across Scotland, and as part of that I will bring forward proposals to deliver an additional deputy leadership role.

"To ensure women are adequately represented in our party and the Scottish Labour leadership, I am proposing that at least one deputy leader will always be a woman.

"But our battle for equality doesn't stop at Holyrood. We want equality in society across Scotland and will make ending the gender pay gap an economic priority."

The leadership election was triggered by the resignation of Kezia Dugdale last month.

Nominations for candidates close on Sunday, with the result due to be announced on November 18.

Mr Leonard, the only other candidate to declare so far for the contest, also made clear he was committed to ensuring at least half of Labour candidates are female

Announcing the policy initiative with his campaign vice chair Monica Lennon MSP, he said: "Over 20 years ago, I was one of those in Labour who helped lead the way on women's representation by introducing all women shortlists, it took the SNP until 2016 to catch up with us.

"If we are serious about changing society - we need to be prepared to change our own practices and outlook. This change needs to come from the ground up so that we are making the full use of the skills and abilities of Labour party members.

"The party should be investing in a diverse range of candidates. This training and support network will be aimed at women, LGBT members, the BME community and disabled members to ensure we are opening our doors to talented individuals, and that our candidates are as diverse as the electorate."