A NEW generation of female SNP politicians could be heading to Holyrood in 2021 after the party backed a move aimed at improving the representation of women in the Scottish Parliament.

In an internal session at the party’s annual conference in Aberdeen, members voted on Monday to allow the SNP’s National Executive Committee to direct constituency branches to submit an all-female shortlist when a constituency MSP is retiring or standing down.

The SNP introduced the policy for the first time at the last Holyrood election in 2016 which improved the proportion of women SNP MSPs.

However, male SNP MSPs still outnumber female SNP MSPs by 35 to 27, and across all parties women make up just 35% of MSPs. Just seven of the 31 Conservative MSPs are women, while the Scottish Greens and LibDems both have just one woman in their groups of six and five MSPs, respectively. Labour has the highest representation of women with 11 female and 12 male MSPs in their parliamentary group.

With a considerable number of the first intake of SNP MSPs – the so-called “class of 1999” – possibly standing down rather than sitting

for a further five years in Holyrood, the move could see a raft of fresh female talent take their seats for the first time.

Long-serving constituency SNP MSPs who may be considering whether to fight a new election or head for retirement include Stewart Stevenson, Fergus Ewing, Alex Neil, Bruce Crawford and John Mason.