Green MP attacks Labour’s lack of action in ‘doing’ row

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By G.A.Ponsonby

Green MP Caroline Lucas has added her voice to a list of respected female academics and Women’s group campaigners angry at the lack of action taken by the Labour party after the ‘doing’ remark made by Scottish Labour MP Ian Davidson to a female SNP MP.

In a statement issued this weekend the Green MP called the incident “shocking” and said: “In the real world employers would look into bullying language and take action.  I cannot understand why there has been no independent intervention into this shocking situation.”

Ms Lucas’ remarks follow allegations against Scottish Labour MP Ian Davidson that he threatened Dr Eilidh Whiteford with “a doing” if she leaked details of a private meeting to the media.  The remark was reported to have been confirmed by another unnamed member of the committee who passed Mr Davidson a note of warning, saying that it could have been construed as a sexual.

Dr Whiteford immediately withdrew from the committee and demanded Mr Davidson, who is the chairman, stand down.

Despite early denials by his party, Mr Davidson, MP for Glasgow South West, has since issued two separate apologies and admitted using the word ‘doing’ but claims that it was not meant as a threat.

This weekend Mr Davidson re-ignited the controversy when he launched his deputy leadership bid for the Scottish Labour party by implying that the complaint by Dr Whiteford was an attempted smear.
 
Mr Davidson suggested that his ‘doing’ remark was “normal” and that the complaint by Dr Eilidh Whiteford was an attempted “mischief” by the SNP to prevent him becoming Deputy Leader of the Labour party in Scotland.

Speaking at a special Labour Hustings this weekend Mr Davidson said: : “We’re in here, on a Saturday, talking about politics.  That is not normal.  We have got to identify ways in which we can speak normal to people that are normal.

“I think I can speak normal to ordinary people, even if that normal is sometimes misunderstood by people that want to cause mischief.

“Bullying is not acceptable, but neither is smearing.  And I think we have got be absolutely clear about that.  Not only can I talk normal, I think I’m probably the candidate the SNP want least.”

Last week a group of respected academics issued a letter in which they attacked the lack of action taken by Labour over the incident.

In the letter the group said: “The remarks from Mr. Davidson were exposed by Dr. Whiteford and witnessed by other MPs and Committee officials. Mr Davidson’s alleged threat to give Dr. Whiteford “a doing”, and his subsequent – and bewildering – clarification that his remark was “not intended as a sexual threat” underscore the extent of persistent sexism rooted in political and parliamentary culture. “

They added: “The allegations from Dr. Whiteford go well beyond party politics and our reaction and condemnation is not party-aligned. This incident is the latest evidence of the dominance of a sexist and antiquated political culture that underlies our political and economic institutions. So long as sexism is left unchallenged, and ‘casual’ references to violence are left unchecked and unsanctioned, women will continue to be held at arms’ length from the political process.

A Scottish Labour Party spokesperson said: “We looked very carefully at this allegation but the facts are that the other members of the committee, from all three parties, are clear that at absolutely no point did Mr Davidson in any way threaten, or attempt to threaten, Dr Whiteford last week. The SNP press office must stop their disgraceful dirty tricks campaign.”