The 2021 candidates

2021 candidates – what we know

Yesterday was the deadline to submit all paperwork to officially appear on the Scottish Parliament 2021 election ballot papers. As we have done in every election since we launched in 2014, we are providing a break-down of the what we know regarding the demographic make-up of candidates.

BUT as every year, this comes with a big caveat, we can only gather the information we can access publicly and accurately. There is information missing; some in regards to the gender of candidates, some in regards to race, and lots more in regards to disability. We have to state this caveat because we cannot and will not make assumptions about candidates, we can only go on what we know. However, we would be able to publish more accurate and helpful information had the UK Government enacted a small part of the equalities act. Section 106 states that all parties will be legally required to publish demographic data on their candidates ahead of any election. It is there, in black and white in the equalities act, yet has never been enacted. Along with our work to create a representative and feminist policy making parliament, we also push for section 106 to be made a reality.

So here is what we know, below are details of all the main/large parties currently represented in the Scottish Parliament and represented on TV debates/hustings. Of course, there are other parties running candidates and independents, however, as we don’t have information for all of them, we have decided to share the 5 main parties only. In this count we have tallied up the number of women standing; where their gender is made clear and we compare it to the number of candidates in total that we have had confirmed. This does not include those who identify as non-binary. Our work focuses on women’s under-representation, however we acknowledge that there has never been a non-binary parliamentarian and we firmly support genuine representation of Scotland’s diverse population.

(this is accurate at time of publication and may be updated if further information is made available. We’ve also rounded up because we are feeling uncharacteristically generous):

Party% of women candidates
Scottish Green Party49%
Scottish Labour Party43%
Scottish Liberal Democrats40%
Scottish Conservatives30%
All candidates in total (inc those not currently represented in parliament)39%

From this, we also know that there are only 11 women of colour standing; 6 for the SNP, 2 for the Liberal Democrats, 1 for the Scottish Conservatives, 1 for the Green Party and 1 for Alba. Scottish Labour has no women of colour candidates in this election.

Unsurprisingly, we don’t think this is good enough, particularly in terms of the representation of women of colour, given in its 22 years the Scottish Parliament has never had a woman of colour MSP.

Our campaign is to not only have women’s diversity fairly represented in numbers, but represented through the delivery of policy which improves their lives. We want to see feminists, anti-racists and those who strive to tackle poverty and inequality elected to the Scottish Parliament, so we can create a fairer Scotland for all women. That’s why we have partnered with women’s organisations across Scotland on a election hustings to ask questions of candidates and challenge them on how they will truly deliver for women.

You can find out about the full set of candidates (including all parties and independents) for each seat and each regional list through Ballot Box Scotland