You could be forgiven for thinking the 48-year-old may wilt under the pressure of competing with more polished and experienced politicians, including Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, but this mum-of-three has an impressive record of meeting challenges head on — and coming out on top.

Many will recall her involvement in a fruitful campaign to save the children’s ward at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital. She was one of the parents who helped generate public support for the successful ‘Kids Need Our Ward’ campaign and it’s that streak of determination to stand up for a cause that could serve Webster well as she steps into the political arena.

When I met up with Webster over coffee at the Mad Hatters Tearoom in Johnstone town centre she wasn’t slow to lay her cards on the table with notable and disarming honesty.

She tells me she grew up in a housing estate in Dundee and started her working life as a community worker involved with youth projects and initiatives for many years before she moved to Paisley in her 20s.

Like many Scots in her age group, she gravitated towards the Labour Party in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was ruling the roost but, as she’s quick to point out, times have changed and today’s political landscape isn’t as black and white — or red and blue — as it was during the Thatcher years.

She says: “Many years ago I was a member of the Labour Party and Scottish Labour Action but all my politics have been based in the community and over time I lost faith in what the Labour Party stood for.

“Over the past few years I just decided the cuts were getting so bad that I had to join a party again and the only party I could see that matched what I believed in was the Scottish Socialist Party. It’s a small party with a big heart and a lot of good thinking goes on. I feel really at home here.” That’s not surprising when you discover that Webster has been involved with the peace movement for years, and she also wholeheartedly supports the party’s anti-capitalist stance and commitment to re-nationalisation. Above all though her interest is in protecting the National Health Service due in no small part to the fact she understands how vital it is to the wellbeing of families facing life-changing challenges.

Both her sons, Lucas, 14, and 10-year-old Callum, are autistic so as well as fighting for votes in the General Election campaign, she is a full-time carer who is determined to force carers’ issues to the top of the agenda.

“I am a carer,” she explains, “I’ve got two kids with autism and that’s one of the reasons why I’m standing because I’m passionate about what happens to carers.

“If you are a carer, it gives you the privilege of walking in other people’s shoes. That’s what’s important to me; seeing things from other people’s perspective. I empathise with people who are struggling, especially in the current situation with so many being impacted by the welfare cuts.

She continues: “Ed Miliband has said that Labour is going to carry on with policies of austerity. I know the SNP are presenting themselves as the anti-austerity party but we have always been against austerity. We’ve been fighting cuts from the very beginning.

“I was also really involved in the Yes campaign. Until about three years ago I’d never spoken in public before but during the Yes campaign I had the opportunity to speak all over Scotland and I think I found my voice.

“It’s a powerful voice and it’s a different voice. I feel as though the Yes campaign won in that respect because there was a real sense of achievement. Politics has been transformed forever. More people are demanding more of their politicians and that has to be a good thing.” Webster sees the emergence of stronger female voices as another characteristic of the modern political scene. She is an active member of Women for Independence and she welcomes the increasing number of influential women making their mark in politics.

But that doesn’t mean she’s willing to bite her tongue when she disagrees with what she hears.

She said: “I really admire what Natalie Bennett of the Greens, Lianne Wood of Plaid Cymru and Nicola Sturgeon are doing but they should be talking more about women’s issues. We haven’t heard anything about caring, for example. It’s just been about the economic situation and austerity in the leaders’ debate but there are many more issues we should be discussing.

“It also really worries me that the SNP are predicted to have so much of a majority in Scotland. I would hope that some of the smaller parties, like ourselves, are going to have an opportunity. We, the SSP, are activists on the ground who don’t parachute into our constituencies.” The notion of candidates “parachuting in” is a theme Webster returns to on several occasions and that prompted me to ask if she thinks there is a dearth of politicians in the modern era driven by conviction. Her response is clear enough.

“When I was growing up in Dundee, I lived next door to Ernie Ross, who was Labour MP for Dundee East,” she says. “He lived among the people and he represented the people but it seems like politicians are further away now. It’s a political class and there are people moving into politics who have never had a proper job. How are they supposed to know about the impact of austerity?” The SSP is only be standing in four seats across Scotland but Webster’s commitment isn’t diminished.

“It’s worth it,” she states, “because people have got the right to vote for parties other than the SNP.” She also has one eye on what’s coming round the corner in 2016 when the lessons learned along the way will, she hopes, give her party a stronger hand when voters’ attention returns once again to Holyrood.

For now, though, the focus is on May 7 and persuading the people of Renfrewshire that the SSP is a viable alternative. The flagship SSP policies include the introduction of a £10 national minimum wage, an end to zero hour contracts and an end to benefit sanctions, arguing that such moves will help eradicate the scourge of poverty and inequality.

Webster concludes: “Labour says they are going to represent hard working families but as far as I’m concerned everyone comes from a hard working family. Everybody loves their children and try their best for them. Our message to voters in Paisley and Renfrewshire South is one of hope that there is a different way of doing things and that we are a party that hasn’t just been parachuted in for this campaign.” “We’ll be there after this campaign is over,” she adds. “We’ve helped people with discretionary housing payments, disability living allowance and we’ll continue to do that in the community.

“I would say that I am a true neighbour of people in this constituency and I understand what it is like being impacted by the cuts. I’m possibly the only candidate standing who has been in that position so I’m standing for something real rather than it being an academic exercise.”