Teacher is first woman of colour elected as MSP

Kaukab Stewart says ‘while I may be the first, I will not be the last’

Henry Hepburn

Teacher is first woman of colour elected as an MSP (Copyright holder: PA WIRE Copyright notice: PA Wire/PA Images Picture by: Jane Barlow)

Kaukab Stewart will become the first woman of colour to serve as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament after she held the Glasgow Kelvin constituency for the SNP.

In her acceptance speech, Ms Stewart  who has almost 30 years’ experience as a teacher  said: “It is, without doubt, an honour to be elected as the first woman of colour to the Scottish Parliament.

“It has taken too long, but to all the women and girls of colour out there: the Scottish Parliament belongs to you, too, so while I may be the first, I will not be the last.”

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Ms Stewart – who is pictured above with first minister Nicola Sturgeon today  initially ran for Parliament in 1999 against Donald Dewar, who became first minister of the first Scottish government following devolution.

In 2010, when she stood as a would-be MP in chancellor Alistair Darling’s Edinburgh South West seat, Ms Stewart told Tes Scotland that combining teaching with a political career was not easy.

“It is difficult when you are getting the kids ready for exams,” she said, reflecting on having worked for 17 years in Edinburgh primary schools at that time. “My headteacher has been quite sympathetic but I won’t be getting two or three weeks off because you have a duty to the kids, who must come first,” she said.

“It’s been very difficult,” she also told Tes Scotland. “You need to be quite fit mentally and physically. I love teaching and love being around the kids, and that’s not to be jeopardised.”

Today, Ms Stewart told the BBC: “I must admit in 1999, when I stood at that time, I didn’t think that it would be me that would be the first woman of colour to actually get elected in 2021, but it is.

“You know, you have to keep going, keep persevering, keep working hard – and we’ve got there in the end.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon applauded Ms Stewart as she arrived at the count to congratulate her new parliamentary colleague.

“I have never wanted to hug someone so much in my life,” Ms Sturgeon said, adding she was “thrilled beyond words” at the result.

“It has taken us far too long, more than 20 years, but today she becomes the first woman of colour to be elected to our national Parliament,” she said.

“Party politics aside, this a really special and a very significant moment for Scotland and I could not be prouder right now.”

On her website, Ms Stewart says: "I’ve worked as a teacher in communities across Scotland for almost 30 years. I’m passionate about education and ensuring that every young person in Scotland is given an equal chance to succeed."

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie finished second to Ms Stewart with 9,077 votes, 5,458 behind her total of 14,535.

Scottish Labour picked up 8,605 votes in the constituency, the Scottish Conservatives 2,850 and the Scottish Liberal Democrats 977.

Ms Stewart’s party was confirmed today as the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, for the fourth election in a row. The SNP is projected to win 63 seats, some way clear of the second-placed Scottish Conservatives.

Kaukab Stewart MSP teacher

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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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