KURDISH refugee and campaigner Roza Salih is hoping to be the SNP candidate in Clydebank and Milngavie at next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

Long-serving Gil Paterson is the current MSP for the constituency, but the 77-year-old will not be seeking re-election in May.

Salih was born in Iraqi Kurdistan and moved to Scotland as a refugee when she was 12. Working with a group of girls from Drumchapel High School to stop the Home Office deporting their friend, Salih became known as one of the “Glasgow Girls”.

The group went on to stop dawn raids by the UK Border Agency and later lobbied the Scottish Government on the issue of unlawful child detention.

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The girls’ story later became a theatre production, travelling across Scotland.

Salih has continue to fight injustice, becoming involved in Unite and campaigning for a fairer immigration system. She works as the office manager for Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens.

Explaining her decision to stand for election, Salih said: “I travelled over three thousand miles from Kurdistan to Scotland and I was blown away by how quickly and full-heartedly Scotland and its people welcomed me.

“I would now like to make the slightly shorter journey, just along the road from where I grew up in Drumchapel to Clydebank and Milngavie, where I wish to repay the love and opportunities that Scotland has given me by serving the people of Clydebank and Milngavie in our national parliament.”

Salih would be one of the first women from an ethnic minority background to be elected to the Scottish Parliament – but she hopes SNP members will judge her primarily on her credentials.

In five Holyrood elections since 1999 Holyrood has seen just four members from BAME communities – all were men of Scots-Pakistani heritage.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said this year that the record of “no black MSP ever, no female BAME MSP ever” was “frankly a failure of all of us, regardless of party”.

Salih told The National: “It would, of course, be a huge honour to become one of the first female BAME MSPs, I do however think that SNP members and voters should consider my candidacy purely on its merits.

“I have a proven track record as an activist and trade unionist and my time working for Chris Stephens has allowed me to help so many people. Now I’d like to take that experience and use it to help the communities across Clydebank and Milngavie.”

The constituency has been represented by Paterson since 2011, but before that he was an MSP for the West of Scotland region from 2007 and an MSP for Central Scotland from 1999 to 2003.

The MSP said stepping down would be a “difficult decision”, but his own “personal situation” told him 2021 was the right time.

Salih said she knows she has “big shoes” to fill if she were elected as the area’s SNP candidate.