At the start of the year Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) was the chief guest at an event organised by the Scots Asians For Independence.

It had been arranged to celebrate the party’s success in the 2019 UK general election. However, it was elections due to take place much closer to home, that were at the forefront of the minds of both the Scottish First Minister and her Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf.

Yousaf was first elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) in 2011. He told those in attendance that it would be a “real failure in my part and on the party’s part if we do not have more ethnic minority MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in 2021.”

When Ms Sturgeon took to the stage, she admitted that the party had not done “well enough” in ensuring that “this community was represented at all levels of our government in Scotland” and that she was determined to “right that wrong.”

She continued: “It’s not for this community to do that on its own. Humza says he would feel it as a failure if we don’t after the next Scottish Parliament elections have more people from this community and from Scotland’s other minority ethnic communities representing the SNP in parliament.

“So I want to give you an assurance this evening, of my commitment as leader of the party, to make sure we see more men and women from this community representing our party in local councils and in our national parliament and indeed join Humza in the government of this country as well.”

She urged those wanting to stand for office to “come forward” so we can “together work to make this commitment a reality”.

Earlier this month the selection process to become the party’s Scottish parliamentary candidates concluded. Despite a record-high number of 22 BAME candidates standing, only one new name was selected.

Kaukab Stewart – will be contesting the Glasgow Kelvin constituency and if successful, she will become the first women of colour in the Scottish Parliament. Since the creation of the parliament in Edinburgh in 1999, four BAME individuals have been elected and all have been male, Muslim and of Pakistani origin.

For many BAME SNP members, such a low return was evidence that their party’s commitment to increasing diversity was empty rhetoric.

The equalities officer of an SNP branch in South Glasgow took to social media and wrote: “Scratch the civic nationalism veneer to see who belongs in this vision and & who doesn’t.” She went on to add: “This will be repeated across the different political parties and clearly illustrates barriers BAME political hopefuls face when they face the party membership, and then again the public vote. The racism the candidates faced has been appalling. This is our Scotland.”

High profile lawyer Aamer Anwar urged the party to stop the “window dressing and box ticking & deal with the allegations.”

Danish Ashraf, a current councillor in North Lanarkshire, stood for selection in East Kilbride.

He said: “It was an incredible show of strength and confidence in the party to have over 20 candidates of colour put themselves forward for selection. To then only have one selected other than Humza Yousaf is something that the party needs to take a serious look at.

“Representation needs to be representative and with our party moving forward, thankfully, on underrepresented groups such as female candidates, those from ethnic minority backgrounds must also be taken into account.

“Kaukab Stewart is a stalwart within the party, her selection was long overdue, it should never have taken to 2020 to have an ethnic minority female win selection. The party must seriously consider mechanisms that produce results if we are to practically improve the diversity of outcomes.”

Supporters of some of the other BAME candidates believe they were victims of “dirty tricks”, with racism playing a significant role in them being overlooked. The SNP BAME Network is expected to document the experiences of those standing and working towards a one-year plan for “getting more BAME candidates elected”.

However, a long-standing SNP member, of Asian origin, cautioned on placing on too much emphasis on race.

He said: “I would have thought at least four or five would have been chosen. I have been in the party for a very long time. I have been involved in campaigns ranging from local councils to general elections, with candidates from all walks of life. You can have the best policies in the world, but the best person doesn’t always win. That’s politics for you!”

An SNP spokesperson said: “The SNP has doubled the number of BAME constituency candidates standing in next year’s Scottish Parliamentary election.

“More people from BAME backgrounds entered contests than ever before. And now there is a great opportunity for the first woman of colour to be elected to the Scottish Parliament.

“This clearly represents progress, but we accept and there is more work to be done.

“As the SNP lead the campaign for independence it is vital that we apply the same values of fairness and equality in our processes as we aim to have across all institutions and public life in an independent Scotland.”