Green MSP will step down from corporate body to address gender imbalance

Andy Wightman has renewed calls for balance in Scottish Parliament governance structures 

SCOTTISH GREEN MSP Andy Wightman has called for action to be taken to address the lack of gender balance in the all male Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) on which he sits, and has warned that if action is not taken to agree the mechanisms for new appointments “within a reasonable timescale” he will step down “regardless”.

Wightman, who was selected to represent the Greens on the SPCB last May raised a motion at the time in parliament last May which noted that both the Corporate Body and the Parliamentary Bureau, the governing bodies of the parliament, were all male, and called for steps to be taken to prevent this imbalance in future.

Greater attention has been drawn to the issue in recent weeks amid allegations of a culture of sexism and harassment at Holyrood – when a series of questions on sexual harassment were put to the SPCB, critics raised concerns that no women were represented on the body. 

Labour MSP and former party leader Kezia Dugdale and minister for parliamentary business Joe FitzPatrick respectively wrote to the Corporate Body and presiding officer Ken Macintosh earlier this week, requesting that action be taken to address the issue. 

READ MORE: SNP to nominate female replacement for Corporate Body in bid to boost gender balance

Wightman wrote to his colleagues on the SPCB on Thursday following an initial correspondence earlier in the week, indicating his intention to step aside from the role as soon as a process for making the new appointments could be agreed. 

He said: “I believe the structures of our parliament should be representative of the public we seek to serve.

“Since expressing my concerns last year, it's disappointing that nothing has changed, and in light of ongoing concerns around inappropriate behaviour towards women who work in parliament it is beyond argument that the situation is no longer tenable.

“I therefore intend to step down from the SPCB just as soon as Parliament has agreed to a mechanism for appointing a more gender-balanced Corporate Body.

“If parliament fails to do this within a reasonable timescale, I will be left with no option but to stand down regardless.”

The SNP also announced on Thursday that its representative on the SPCB, Gordon MacDonald, would step down due to health issues, and that a woman MSP would be nominated in his place in a bid to address the concerns around gender balance. 

Currently the Corporate Body consists of presiding officer Ken Macintosh, Green MSP Andy Wightman, Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw, Labour MSP David Stewart, Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, to be joined by an as yet unconfirmed female SNP MSP. 

Picture courtesy of Sky Echo 7

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