ANDREW PIERCE: Who is to blame for Nicola Sturgeon's diversity crisis?

ANDREW PIERCE: Who is to blame for Nicola Sturgeon's diversity crisis?

03/29/2021

ANDREW PIERCE: Who is to blame for Nicola Sturgeon’s diversity crisis?

After winning a no-confidence vote last week, an embattled Nicola Sturgeon has launched her party’s campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections in May.

Scotland, the First Minister declares in typically feisty fashion, is ‘open, welcoming, diverse and inclusive — and no Tory is ever going to be allowed to change that’.

But how ‘open’ and ‘inclusive’ really is the Parliament that her party has dominated for a political generation? BBC Scotland’s Disclosure programme has some troubling answers.

In the 22 years since Holyrood opened, it reveals, 645 people have been elected to it — and not a single woman of colour has been among them.

Scotland, the First Minister declares in typically feisty fashion, is ‘open, welcoming, diverse and inclusive — and no Tory is ever going to be allowed to change that’

At the upcoming elections, just ten of more than 1,000 candidates are black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) women — six from Sturgeon’s SNP. In London, the SNP has 47 MPs, but not a single one of them is a Bame woman, even though there are 35 female Bame MPs at Westminster. So much for Sturgeon’s boast about being ‘diverse’.

Nicola, of course, has her hands full after her erstwhile friend Alex Salmond — now her sworn enemy — has launched his new pro-independence Alba movement to scupper the SNP, which he used to lead.

Embarrassingly, Alba’s website, bagpiped in with much fanfare on Friday, was beset with technical hitches and included at least one misspelt word. And which word was that? ‘Independence.’ Oops.

Overheard in the Commons: two Tories discussing the Bayeux Tapestry, which is set to be loaned to Britain and depicts the Frenchman William the Conqueror coming over in 1066, slaughtering the incumbent Anglo-Saxon monarchy and jamming the English crown on his head. 

The priceless 11th-century artefact needs a £1.7 million repair job and the mayor of Bayeux is demanding that Britain should pay for it. One MP waspishly remarks: ‘If the Government picks up the bill, can we change the ending?’ 

The Supreme Court has ruled that care workers are not entitled to be paid the minimum wage while they are asleep at their work place. 

Does the same principle apply to members of the House of Lords? 

On Thursday, I’ll be raising a glass to celebrate 100 years since the Conservative grandee Sir Austen Chamberlain — older brother of former PM Neville — became leader of the House of Commons. 

It’s surely what he would have wanted. Chamberlain was once attending a dinner given by society hostess Margaret Greville when she noticed that her butler was looking distinctly unsteady on his feet. 

On Thursday, I’ll be raising a glass to celebrate 100 years since the Conservative grandee Sir Austen Chamberlain — older brother of former PM Neville — became leader of the House of Commons

She furiously scribbled a note to the underling: ‘You are very drunk: Leave the room immediately!’ The butler accepted the note and blearily surveyed the room. He then placed the message on a silver salver, and presented it with a flourish to Sir Austen. 

The eminent politician spent the rest of the meal in mystified silence, later saying: ‘It is the first time I have ever been silenced by a drunken butler.’ 

Support for the Tories in the ‘Red Wall’ of formerly rock-solid Labour seats in the north of England is strengthening thanks to the generous furlough scheme and Boris’s enduring popularity among blue-collar voters.

Polling suggests they could even win the Hartlepool by-election in May, bringing them their first MP in the north-east town for 60 years. But some are muttering they’d rather Labour scraped home — as losing Peter Mandelson’s old seat could spell existential trouble for the party’s beleaguered leader.

‘Keir Starmer is so useless, the last thing we want is a full-blown leadership crisis and they kick him out,’ one tells me. 

‘He is a vote-winner for us in the north.’

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