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.

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

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

Loading article content

If Sarwar is elected, the change will be put to the party’s 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 SEC, Sarwar added.

He 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 per cent of parliamentary candidates are women.

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

Sarwar 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.