Edinburgh council by-election: Gender reform protester joins contest in Corstorphine/Murrayfield
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A comedian who staged a dramatic protest in the Scottish Parliament against the Gender Reform Bill is to stand for Edinburgh council as an independent candidate in the Corstorphine/Murrayfield by-election.
Elaine Miller was in the public gallery at the parliament as MSPs debated the controversial measures making it easier for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate, and as they prepared to vote, she stood up and lifted her skirt to reveal fake pubic hair. Other protesters held up a banner. They were all escorted out by security staff and police launched an investigation, but later said no criminality had been established and there would be no further action.
Announcing her decision to stand for election, she said she believed councillors should always put the needs of the people they serve before any political party. “As an independent voice for Corstorphine/Murrayfield, I will have the freedom to act and vote solely in the interests of local residents and be forceful and effective in the scrutiny of decisions which affect our area.” She said she had lived in the ward for 20 years, her three teenage children had attended a local playgroup, nursery and schools and the family were regular users of the public parks, sports facilities and resources.
She continued: “I strongly believe that a council which is not representative of the wide range of people living in the community is not democratic. It is notable, that in recent years there have been very few women candidates here, and only one female councillor, and she stood down last year after one term.”
The by-election – to be held on Thursday March 9 – was caused by the resignation of SNP councillor and former Lord Provost Frank Ross, but the Lib Dems are favourites to win the contest because they topped the poll at last year’s local elections, taking the ward’s other two seats. Ms Miller said: “Corstorphine/Murrayfield is at risk of becoming a one-party ward, the only one in the city. I think that is bad for democracy – it would mean that the Lib Dem party manifesto could have more influence on local decisions than the views of the community. Our area needs a range of voices in the council chamber.”
As well as being an award-winning comedian, Ms Miller, 50, is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, specialising in women’s health, and a visiting lecturer at several UK universities. She is currently writing a book about women’s reproductive health. Among the issues she said she would speak up on were the need to protect local bus services; several “risky” crossings in the ward; compensation for Roseburn traders hit by major infrastructure works; Spaces for People; and anti-social behaviour on Costorphine Hill, along the Water of Leith and in local parks.