Pool via Getty Images
New SNP MP Anum Qaisar-Javed has vowed to “fight for independence” after her party emerged victorious in the Airdrie and Shotts by-elections.
The 28-year-old is Scotland’s second-largest Muslim parliamentarian and has said she hopes to be a role model for other minorities.
The race for the by-elections, which took place just one week after the Scottish Parliamentary election, was sparked by former MP Neil Gray’s decision to leave the Commons and run for Holyrood.
After being elected to the Scottish Parliament constituency last week, Qaisar-Javed, 28, held the seat, albeit with a less than 5,201 majority for Gray in 2019.
He got 10,129 votes, ahead of Labor candidate and local councilor Kenneth Stevenson, who came in second with 8,372 votes, a majority of 1,757.
Conservative candidate Ben Callaghan got 2,812 votes, and Liberal Democrat Stephen Arrundale, fourth, with 220 votes.
Election turnout was 34.3%, with Qaisar-Javed saying this was “low”, but added that she was proud of the SNP’s record in the area and “proud to be chosen as deputy of Airdrie and Shotts “.
Her election came when the Scottish Parliament saw its most diverse MSP group ever sworn in, with women of color elected by Holyrood for the first time.
Qaisar-Javed, a professor of modern studies, said she taught her students the reasons why there are fewer people from minority communities in politics.
Pool via Getty Images
She said: “We are talking about reasons like the lack of role models, and it has taken until 2021, but now we have two women of color in the Scottish Parliament.
“But not only do I want women of color or people of color to see me, I want anyone from any minority group to be able to look at me and say ‘if I can do it, so can I.’
In a speech after counting the votes at the Ravenscraig regional sports facility in Motherwell, he vowed to “fight for independence.”
He added: “The initial priority should be the recovery of Covid, we just went through a pandemic, people have really been struggling this past year.
“And as we move forward through the pandemic and when the time comes, yes, of course, we will try to campaign for another independence referendum, as is the right of the people of Scotland.
“Whatever the outcome of this referendum, so be it, but this choice is of utmost importance.”
After winning a fourth historic term for the SNP in Holyrood last week, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Boris Johnson not to stand in the way of a second Scottish independence referendum.