An SNP election candidate has been embroiled in an age discrimination row after claiming she is more suitable to be an MSP than her pension-age rivals because she “deals with the realities of everyday”.
Siobhian Brown, who already sits on South Ayrshire Council, told The National she would be a better choice than three older candidates running in the Ayr constituency because they “have pensions and a comfortable lifestyle”.
She told the newspaper: “I bring energy and enthusiasm and I’m down at the ground level.
“I’ve got three young children in education, the three I’m standing against are in their late 70s and have pensions and a comfortable lifestyle.
“I deal with the realities of everyday and the struggles of childcare and I think you really need someone who can relate to the constituency, and that’s what I can do.”
It is understood concerns have been raised to South Ayrshire Council and SNP headquarters but party bosses did not respond to questions over whether they would stand by the suggestion that someone in their 70s is less suitable to be an MSP.
Ms Brown is standing in Ayr against 69-year-old Conservative candidate John Scott, 79-year-old Labour candidate Esther Clark, and 22-year-old Liberal Democrat candidate Jamie Ross.
The final person standing for the seat is 76-year-old Scotia Future candidate Chic Brodie, a former SNP MSP who Ms Brown actually worked for as a parliamentary assistant while Mr Brodie was 71 years old.
He described Ms Brown’s comments as “deeply regrettable and totally unnecessary”.
Mr Brodie said: “I started to laugh it off before I had to go to my bed at 7pm because you know what it’s like for us old people.
“I tried to get the other candidates to have a photograph taken on three bath chairs down on Ayr seafront but they didn’t go for that.
“It may seem like a throwaway comment but it encompasses more than the three people who are standing, who are all fit and able, and I think there are a lot more pertinent issues to be discussed than saying vote for me because the other three are old.
“Everybody has the right, if they wish, to put themselves forward to represent their areas without fear of age, race, gender or whatever being brought up.
“Of course, what the candidate’s comments didn’t mention is the remarkable lot of people over 70 who are fit and who’ve got a hinterland of success and competence.
“It doesn’t flatter the over-70s, which is supposedly the new 60s, making a comment like that.
“It was deeply regrettable and I don’t think it’s helped that particular candidate’s cause because I know some people are very upset.”
It is understood another candidate privately described Ms Brown’s remarks as “offensive, untrue and potentially unlawful”.
Mr Brodie has now written to SNP justice secretary Humza Yousaf to question whether the comments could be in breach of measures set out in the party’s Hate Crime Bill.
Age was added to the list of protected characteristics, alongside disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics, as MSPs voted in favour of the legislation earlier this year.
The SNP and Ms Brown did not respond to a request for comment.