POLITICS
14/05/2021 11:08 BST

SNP Win Airdrie And Shotts By-Election In Fresh Boost For Indy Ref 2 Campaign

Anum Qaisar-Javed is Scotland's second ever Muslim MP and vows to “fight for independence”.

Pool via Getty Images
SNP MP Anum Qaisar-Javed 

New SNP MP Anum Qaisar-Javed has vowed to “fight for independence” after her party emerged victorious in the Airdrie and Shotts by-election. 

The 28-year-old is Scotland’s second ever Muslim MP and has said she hopes to be a role model for other minorities. 

The by-election race, which took place just a week after the Scottish Parliament election, was sparked by former MP Neil Gray’s decision to step down from the Commons and run for Holyrood.

After he was elected to the corresponding constituency in the Scottish Parliament last week, Qaisar-Javed, 28, retained the seat – albeit with a majority down on the 5,201 held by Gray in 2019.

She polled 10,129 votes, ahead of Labour candidate and local councillor Kenneth Stevenson who came in second with 8,372 votes, a majority of 1,757.

Conservative candidate Ben Callaghan secured 2,812 votes, with Liberal Democrat Stephen Arrundale fourth with 220 votes.

Turnout in the election was 34.3%, with Qaisar-Javed saying this was “low” but adding she is proud of the SNP’s record in the area and “proud to be elected as the MP for Airdrie and Shotts”.

Her election came as the Scottish Parliament saw its most diverse group of MSPs ever sworn in, with women of colour elected to Holyrood for the first time.

Qaisar-Javed, a modern studies teacher, said she taught her students about the reasons why there are fewer people from minority communities in politics.

Pool via Getty Images
AIRDRIE, SCOTLAND - MAY 12: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP candidate Anum Qaisar-Javed during a visit to Airdrie ahead of a by-election on May 12, 2021 in Airdrie, Scotland. (Photo by Russell Cheyne - Pool/Getty Images)

She said: “We talk about reasons such as a lack of role models, and it has taken till 2021 but now we have two women of colour in the Scottish Parliament.

“But I don’t just want women of colour to look at me, or people of colour, I want anyone from any minority group to be able to look at me and say ‘if she can do it, so can I’.”

In a speech made after votes were counted at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell, she promised she would “fight for independence”.

She added: “The initial priority has to be the Covid recovery, we have just gone through a pandemic, people have really struggled this last year.

“And as we move through the pandemic and when the time is right, then yes of course we will be looking to campaign for another independence referendum, as is the right of people of Scotland.

“Whatever the result is of that referendum, so be it, but that choice is of paramount importance.”

After winning an historic fourth term for the SNP in Holyrood last week, first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Boris Johnson not to stand in the way of a second Scottish independence referendum.