POLITICIANS should be able to jobshare to allow more mothers and carers into public life, it is claimed.

Two newly-elected SNP councillors are to launch a bid to convince their party to support the policy.

Katy Loudon and Janine Calikes were among the 27 SNP candidates elected in South Lanarkshire after last week’s local elections.

Loading article content

Both are members of activist group Women for Independence, in which they serve as national committee members under a jobsharing agreement.

They say the set-up works so well it should be available at council, Holyrood and Westminster level to allow more “marginalised” people to enter public life.

The pair, who represent the Cambuslang East and Rutherglen Central and North wards, say they may have considered the option if it had been available ahead of the May 4 vote.

Now they aim to take a motion to the next SNP conference this autumn.

The women, both working mothers, will take the issue to their local branch after the June 8 general election and, if successful, could see it discussed at the party conference this autumn.

Calikes said: “If we want to make politics and public life accessible to women and other marginalised groups, it makes sense to do this.

“People in other professions like teaching are able to jobshare.

“We think it should also be available for elected positions. It would mean two people on the ticket instead of one.

“It’s a natural progression from the equalities work the party has already been doing.”

This work includes new rules on candidate selection to end male-only lists and the creation of a gender-balanced cabinet in Holyrood.

However, Loudon said: “This wouldn’t just be about women, we are talking about anyone who has a caring responsibility. We need to start this conversation.”

Calikes continued: “We need to have people in elected positions who reflect the diversity of the people of Scotland.

“Anything we can do to reduce the barriers today should be explored.”

Under the proposed arrangement, two representatives sharing one political job would take it in turns to attend meetings, agreeing a position on arising issues and sharing just one vote on any subject.

In the first ever elections to the newly-devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999, Lorraine Mann and Eddie Stiven stood as jobshare candidates for the Highlands and Islands Alliance, but were unsuccessful.

At the time, the returning officer said he would only announce the first-named candidate if voters backed the pair.

Mann took the case to an employment tribunal, which found that politics should be considered an “occupation” for the purposes of sex discrimination provisions.

However, the panel said it did not have the power to rule on a decision made by an Electoral Returning Officer.

More recently, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley were selected to lead the Green Party of England and Wales in a jobsharing arrangement in September.

Lucas has also called for the role of MP to be opened up to jobsharing, arguing that this would help more women enter Westminster and allow politicians “to retain stronger ties with their constituencies”.