THE SNP is to have its first ever female party chair.

Nicola Sturgeon has nominated a woman for the position, and her choice is today expected to be rubber-stamped by the SNP’s ruling national executive committee.

Among those being touted for the post are activist Julie Hepburn, the runner up in the deputy SNP leader’s race earlier this year, and former MPs Kirsten Oswald and Margaret Ferrier.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken has also been tipped for the job.

The person will succeed Derek Mackay, who filled the role for seven years while also a government minister and cabinet secretary, before standing down last month.

Other previous holders include MSP Bruce Crawford and former MP Angus Robertson.

The position of party chair, formally known as business convener, is a powerful one.

The holder chairs the National Executive Committee and party conferences.

They also oversee the operational matters of the party, including membership, campaign co-ordination and internal affairs.

Ms Sturgeon has also said in the past it would be the business convener who examined internal complaints against her.

Until 2004, when the position was created, the job of chair was also done by the SNP leader, and every leader in the party's 80 years before Ms Sturgeon was male.

Ms Hepburn has a high profile thanks to her deputy leadership run, when she came a close second to then economy secretary Keith Brown.

She advocated a second independence referendum in the current parliament, before the First Minister’s “triple-lock” mandate expires.

She is married to SNP business minister Jamie Hepburn.

Ms Oswald made headlines in 2015 when she defeated then Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in the SNP tsunami.

However she lost her East Renfrewshire seat to Tory Paul Masterton in 2017.

Mr Brown, who is in charge of the SNP’s ground campaign for the next election, will today accuse the Tories of treating Scotland “with open contempt” in light of the Budget.

He will say: “Theresa May boasted austerity was over – but the Tories have given a tax cut to the well-off, and yet more austerity to struggling families. Universal Credit is still broken. The minimum wage is still not a real Living Wage. And the threat of a No Deal Brexit remains.”