Modern studies teacher elected as an MP

Modern studies lesson comes to life for teacher who taught students about representation of minority groups

Henry Hepburn

Modern studies teacher Anum Qaisar-Javed, pictured with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, has been elected as an MP and wants to inspire minority groups

A modern studies teacher elected as an MP in a by-election hopes that her success will be an inspiration to people from all minority groups.

Anum Qaisar-Javed, who was elected overnight to represent Airdrie and Shotts, said she taught her students in modern studies   a subject distinct to Scotland that covers contemporary political and social issues about the reasons why there are fewer people from minority communities in politics.

The new SNP MP said: “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.

“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.'”

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Ms Qaisar-Javed has spoken publicly a number of times about the racism she has encountered. On Tuesday, she tweeted: “Earlier today, one of our branch activists informed me that whilst they were out campaigning last week someone threw my leaflet back at them and said, ‘I won’t vote for a P*ki.' So let me be clear  if you think I’m a P*ki, then I don’t want your vote.”

Teacher elected as MP wants to inspire minority groups

The by-election, which took place just a week after the Scottish Parliament election, was sparked by former SNP MP Neil Gray’s decision to step down from the Commons and run for Holyrood.

After he was elected to the corresponding constituency in the Scottish Parliament last week, Ms Qaisar-Javed, 28, retained the seat he had held, with a majority down on the 5,201 held by Mr Gray in 2019. It is also the first time the SNP has defended a seat in a Westminster by-election.

Ms Qaisar-Javed (pictured campaigning with first minister Nicola Sturgeon) polled 10,129 votes, ahead of Labour candidate and local councillor Kenneth Stevenson, who came in second with 8,372 votes, a majority of 1,757.

Conservative candidate Ben Callaghan secured 2,812 votes, with Liberal Democrat Stephen Arrundale fourth with 220 votes.

Turnout in the by-election was 34.3 per cent, with Ms Qaisar-Javed saying this was “low” but adding that she was proud of the SNP’s record in the area and “proud to be elected as the MP for Airdrie and Shotts”.

Her election came as the Scottish Parliament yesterday saw its most diverse group of MSPs ever sworn in, with women of colour elected to Holyrood for the first time.

In a speech made after votes were counted at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell, Ms Qaisar-Javed promised she would “fight for independence”.

But she added: “The initial priority has to be the Covid recovery. We have just gone through a pandemic – people have really struggled this last year.”

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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