THE SNP’S use of all-women shortlists came under the spotlight last week when veteran MSP James Dornan was blocked from running again in Glasgow Cathcart.

That’s now been overturned, but the party will use female-only shortlists to choose candidates for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections in nine different areas.

The move is an effort to address unequal representation in Holyrood.

While women make up 52% of the country’s population, they are underrepresented in the chamber, where just 35% of MSPs are female.

The non-party Women 50:50 campaign is amongst those pushing to change this. Party heads Nicola Sturgeon, Patrick Harvie, Richard Leonard and Willie Rennie have all backed the drive.

The SNP’s executive committee have decided to use all-women lists to choose candidates in areas where the current SNP MSP is standing down.

These include Aberdeen Donside, Argyll and Bute, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, Clydesdale, Falkirk East, Stirling, plus Uddingston and Bellshill.

It also includes Renfrewshire North and West, which is currently held by shamed former finance secretary Derek Mackay, who resigned his cabinet post after it emerged that he had sent hundreds of secret messages to a 16-year-old boy.

The women-only rule there means Mackay cannot ask party members to choose him to contest the upcoming election.

It’s understood that the party’s ruling National Executive Committee may also add female hopefuls, plus others with disabilities from minority ethnic communities, to broaden the field in other areas.

The change also ensures that, should the SNP win in Aberdeen Donside, no man will succeed disgraced Mark McDonald there. The former children’s minister has sat as an independent since losing the party whip over inappropriate conduct.

McDonald quit the cabinet in November 2017 after he admitted causing a woman “considerable distress” and, announcing in March that he will not seek re-election, said he would have to “live forever with consequences of those mistakes and the upset they caused”.

Meanwhile, the party’s vacancy in Argyll and Bute comes as Government Business and Constitutional Relations Michael Russell steps down – a move which triggered a petition to urge him to reconsider.

Former Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson is retiring in Banffshire and Buchan, while Gail Ross vacates her role in Caithness, Cutherland and Ross to benefit her family. Breaking that news, she said the “demands of travelling to Edinburgh” were a factor and commented that video meetings and remote voting should be considered “if we are to encourage into politics more young people with families who live far away” from the capital.

Aileen Campbell, Communities Secretary and Clydesdale MSP, made a similar announcement after Ross, saying she needed a “better work-life balance”.

Meanwhile, Angus MacDonald will depart Falkirk East, and ex-Government Strategy Secretary and Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford is also stepping down.

Richard Lyle’s retirement leaves the vacancy in Uddingston and Bellshill.