‘If she can do it, so can I’: SNP’s newest MP Anum Qaisar-Javed says she wants to be role model for other minorities

The SNP’s newest Westminster MP has said she hopes to be a role model for other minorities after triumphing in a parliamentary by-election.

Anum Qaisar-Javed won the contest in Airdrie and Shotts sparked by former MP Neil Gray’s decision to leave the Commons and run for a seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking after her victory was announced, Ms Javed promised to “fight for independence” for Scotland.

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pushing for a second independence referendum, arguing that Boris Johnson has to accept that another vote is a “matter of when, not if” now that pro-independence parties hold a majority at Holyrood.

Ms Javed held the seat for the SNP with a reduced majority – down from 5,201 in 2019 to 1,757.

She got 10,129 votes, with Labour’s candidate Kenneth Stevenson coming second with 8,372.

Ben Callaghan, the Conservative candidate, was third on 2,812 votes, while Liberal Democrat Stephen Arrundale came fourth with 220 votes.

Turnout was 34.3%.

Ms Javed acknowledged this was a “low” figure, but said she was proud of the SNP’s record in the area and was “proud to be elected as the MP for Airdrie and Shotts”.

Her victory came on the heels of the Scottish Parliament swearing in the most diverse group of MSPs in its history, with women of colour taking seats at Holyrood for the first time.

Ms Javed said she had taught her students – she is a modern studies teacher – about why there are fewer people from ethnic minorities in politics.

“We talk about reasons such as a lack of role models, and it has taken till 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’.”

Turning to independence, Ms Javed said recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic should be Scotland’s “initial priority”.

“And as we move through the pandemic and when the time is right, then yes of course we will be looking to campaign for another independence referendum, as is the right of people of Scotland,” she continued.

“Whatever the result is of that referendum, so be it, but that choice is of paramount importance.”

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