Step 3: Defining your political purpose & allegiances

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of politics and democracy in Scotland, the next step is uncovering why you might want to stand - and who for. What is your political purpose? Moreover, what party (if any) best aligns with your beliefs and vision? Ultimately, these decision are personal ones, but we can share some advice and stories from other women to help you on your way.

What is your political purpose?

There is evidence that many under-represented groups (including women) are less likely to have access to the networks, information sources and role models that are a fundamental requirement for candidates seeking pol-2.png

One crucial step in your journey in any sphere is defining your political purpose. This gives you a firm base to make decisions about further steps in your journey (like choosing a sphere of government), and also cuts to the heart of who you are and what motivates you. This step is about harnessing your passion and figuring out what you want to change in the world. You will probably have more than one political purpose over time, but one core purpose is a good place to begin exploring what you stand for.

Just a few examples of political purposes might be:

  • I want to work towards a safer neighbourhood for my community.

  • I want to make a positive difference in society for women.

  • I want to improve education standards for children and adults in my area.

  • I want to ensure we look after the environment and safeguard the future of the planet.

  • I want to push for more investment in and understanding of mental health.



Grab a pen and paper and write freely: in a few words, what do you care about most? What would you like to change in the world? Don’t overthink it - consider this a starting point to examine what you stand for, and add more words or details over time. Every day, challenge yourself to do a bit of research around one topic or area of interest from your notes - whether it be a YouTube video by an education campaigner or a book written by a climate activist.

What are your allegiances?

If you join a party and are selected to stand as a candidate, they can offer advice and support during the election. But which party? There are a couple of online tools you can use to see where your views align. Try the quiz at ISideWith or Vote for Policies (which gives you an option to select Scotland to make it more relevant).

Reading party manifestos is one great way to understand what a party stands for and which best aligns with your beliefs. They detail what a party would do about different issues should they form government and are released before elections, with some parties also detailing their policies on their websites outside of campaigning periods. Click through these links to read the party manifestos and policy information for SNP, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish Greens, Women’s Equality Party, and UKIP.

Still another option is running as an independent candidate, without a party association - check out the Independent Network to learn more.

In the following videos (courtesy of our friends COSLA and the Parliament Project), some current and former politicians share what encouraged them to get into politics, selecting a party, and their greatest accomplishments so far.

You’ve sorted what’s driving you to stand and which party you think is best suited for you - but the decisions aren’t over. Next up is Step #4: Deciding your goal - which sphere of government?