Anum Qaisar-Javed, 28, has become Scotland’s second female Muslim MP after she held the Westminster seat of Airdrie and Shotts for the Scottish National party (SNP).
A modern studies teacher, Qaisar-Javed’s victory has brought the number of SNP MPs in the Commons back to 45, reported The Guardian.
The byelection was held after the sitting MP, Neil Gray, resigned in order to stand in last week’s Scottish parliamentary election in the overlapping Holyrood constituency.
Before the vote, sources cross-party had expressed concerns about turnout given that the byelection was scheduled for only a week after Holyrood’s elections, which the SNP won by a landslide, The Guardian report said.
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh was Scotland’s first female Muslim MP when she won the Ochil and South Perthshire seat for the SNP in 2015.
Thursday’s (13) turnout was 34.3 per cent – lower than the average of 46.5 per cent for a byelection in the last parliament.
The SNP polled 10,129 votes and Labour 8,372, giving Qaisar-Javed a reduced majority of 1,757. The SNP’s share of the vote was 46.4 per cent, up 1.4 points from the 2019 election, with Scottish Labour’s share increasing by 6.5 points to 38.4 per cent, the report added.
Qaisar-Javed told BBC Scotland she hoped to be a role model for others from diverse backgrounds. She also pledged to fight for Scottish independence.
“I taught my modern studies students about why there were fewer people from minority communities in politics. We talk about reasons such as a lack of role models, and it has taken until 2021 but now we have two women of colour in the Scottish parliament,” she said.
“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.”
According to reports, the SNP had hoped to increase its support in the constituency – once a Labour stronghold – under its new leader, Anas Sarwar, after coming within 195 votes of regaining the seat in 2017.
Reports said that people in Scotland elected its most diverse parliament yet following last week’s election with six MSPs of colour, increased from two in 2016, and a record 58 women.