The Herald

SNP councillor attacks party’s equality policy

Salmond’s boardroom quota dismissed as ‘stupid’


ALEX Salmond’s plan for a 40% female quota in boardrooms has been dismissed as “f***ing stupid” and “tokenism” by one of the SNP’s own councillor­s.

Gregor Murray, the deputy convener of education on Dundee City Council, attacked the idea, calling it “the biggest load of p*** I have ever seen”.

Mr Murray previously worked for Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary promoting the quota.

At the SNP’s recent spring conference, the First Minister said he wanted 40% of the places on company boards to be held by women, and announced he was leading by example by adding two female ministers to his cabinet.

Ms Robison, who was one of those promoted, now holds the equalities portfolio at cabinet.

The move was wi d e l y interprete­d as an appeal to female voters ahead of the independen­ce referendum, and attacked by the opposition as cynical.

Ms Robison l ast month launched “Women on Board”, a consultati­on on a 40% quota for public boards such as NHS bodies and quangos. Ministers have also asked for views on whether future legislatio­n for a 40% mandatory female membership on public bodies should be extended to the private sector.

Although females make up 52% of the population, only 36% of public board members and just 21% of board chairs in Scotland are women.

Expressing her determinat­ion to achieve gender equality, Ms Robison wrote: “We need to ensure that we do not have to wait years to achieve equality on our boards ... By taking action on this issue we will be improving economic par ticipation by removing barriers that stand in the way of women realising their potential.”

Mr Murray, 27, was scathing. “Well, this has to be the biggest load of p*** I have ever seen in my life,” he wrote on Facebook next to a link to the consultati­on.

A few minutes later, in a reference to Ms Robison, he added: Sorry Shona pal, I love you very dearly, but that’s just f***ing stupid.”

Mr Murray also attacked the idea on Twitter, writing: “Sorry @ ShonaRobis­on but this has to be most stupid suggestion I’ve seen in a long time. #NotEqualit­y #Tokenism”.

Mr Murray, one of two SNP councillor­s in Dundee’s North East ward, was elected in 2012.

He was previously a researcher for Ms Robison, MSP for Dundee East, and for Dundee West SNP MSP Joe Fitzpatric­k, the Government’s chief whip.

His council role means he sits on the 42%-female board of the Dundee Science Centre.

Labour equalities spokeswoma­n Jackie Baillie said: “When even senior nationalis­ts are admitting that Alex Salmond’s recent conversion to gender equality in his cabinet is tokenism, you know that he is fooling no-one and most women will see the SNP’s clumsy attempts to woo them for what they are.”

Speaking about his comments, Mr Murray said: “While I have my own views on the subject, I believe that I should have expressed them in a more responsibl­e way.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Women now make up 40% of the Scottish Government Cabinet, and ensuring that women make up at least 40% of the boards of our public bodies will help to drive that change forward – something that the SNP takes extremely seriously, even if Labour clearly does not.” CATHERINE Tyldesley, who plays Eva Price in Coronation Street, dipped her toes in Loch Lomond yesterday as she launched the country’s biggest open water swimming event.

The actress, who lost over four stone through healthy eating and exercise, is backing the Great Scottish Swim, which takes place on August 23. Swimmers will be able to take part in a half-mile, mile or two-mile event, with more than 20,000 people expected to participat­e across the UK.

Other locations for the events include Lake Windermere in Cumbria, the Royal Victoria Dock in London, Salford Quays in Manchester and Alton Water Reservoir near Ipswich.

Tyldesley said: “I am taking part in some of this year’s events and although it will be a challenge, I enjoy using swimming as a fun way to keep fit and active.”

Alex Jackson, event director of the Great Swim Series at organiser Nova Internatio­nal, said: “Catherine is a shining example of the benefits of living an active lifestyle. I am sure we will have new and returning participan­ts from across Scotland and beyond feeling inspired to get into the water and take part in this iconic event.” Picture: Colin Mearns

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