Pressure builds on ‘doing’ MP as he is forced to make second apology

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By G.A.Ponsonby

Scottish Labour MP Ian Davidson has today come under more pressure to stand down from a Parliamentary Committee after a second apology failed to appease the female MP he is accused of threatening with a “doing”.

Mr Davidson was appearing on Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland when he admitted using the word “doing” when confronting Dr Eilidh Whiteford at a private meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee last week.

By G.A.Ponsonby

Scottish Labour MP Ian Davidson has today come under more pressure to stand down from a Parliamentary Committee after a second apology failed to appease the female MP he is accused of threatening with a “doing”.

Mr Davidson was appearing on Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland when he admitted using the word “doing” when confronting Dr Eilidh Whiteford at a private meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee last week.

Asked if he accepted he used the phrase, Mr Davidson said: “I used the phrase – after a debate had taken place …”.  The controversial Labour MP claimed that his use of the word ‘doing’ had only been used in the past tense when he later spoke to Dr Whiteford outside of the committee meeting.

Mr Davidson also claimed that other Committee members participated in the ‘doing’ for “misbehaviour”, which was, Davidson admitted “led by myself”.  Davidson insisted that he had then called time on the ‘severe rebuke’ when he thought it had gone “far enough”.

However the SNP has seized on what they say are irregularities in Mr Davidson’s explanation by pointing out that later in the interview, Mr Davidson contradicts his earlier assertion that he made the remark outside of the Committee meeting.

In the same interview the Labour MP says: “I accept that the word ‘doing’ was unacceptable, and that – a member of the committee subsequently dropped me a note saying, “That’s capable of misinterpretation, don’t use that again in future”… And as soon as she got that, I decided that I should go across to Eilidh as soon as the meeting finished, which I did, and say, that was…  You know, I got a note from somebody saying that that was an inappropriate term to have used because it has sexual connotations.”

The SNP claim the interview backs up Dr Whiteford’s initial sequence of events that have remained consistent.  The Nationalists are insisting that the contradictions in Mr Davidson’s explanation and other bizarre statements, including the “sexual clarification” comment, have left the Labour MP with no credibility and that action should now be taken by the party leadership.

Commenting, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire Pete Wishart, who raised the issue at Business Questions in the House of Commons today, said:

“Ian Davidson has been caught out by his own words.  His denials have unravelled and confirm exactly the sequence of events set out by Eilidh Whiteford.”

“If Mr Davidson made the remark using a past tense, why was he passed a note warning him his comments were inappropriate, and why did he feel the need to clarify, afterwards, that there were no sexual connotations to his threat? His denials do not add up.”

“Mr Davidson has no credibility left and he should do the honourable thing and step down for his shameful behaviour.”

“What is also despicable is his attempt to insinuate that other committee members participated in ‘a doing’ during the private committee session.  Eilidh Whiteford made it clear that critical comments made of her by other members of the committee were robust, but were neither offensive nor outwith parliamentary norms.  Dr Whiteford insists that other colleagues on the committee behaved with due courtesy during the meeting.”

“Given his own reluctance to take responsibility for his behaviour, the question is now for the Labour party over what action it will take – though the way people within the Labour party have attempted to vilify Dr Whiteford for having the courage to speak out against this behaviour is a sad reflection on the party’s attitudes to threatening behaviour and language in the workplace.”

A transcript of Mr Davidson’s interview on GMS this morning is detailed below:

Presenter:
…The Glasgow south-west MP Iain Davidson joins me now.  Good morning.

Ian Davidson MP:
Good morning.

Presenter:
Now, you’ve made an apology, so I take it you accept that you’ve told Dr Whiteford that she’d get a doing?

Ian Davidson MP:
No, no, not at all.  I want to make it very clear that I did not, at any time, threaten or attempt to threaten Dr Whiteford.  This should not be a debate about whether or not something is acceptable or not.  It’s not acceptable to threaten anyone.

Presenter:
Did you use that phrase?

Ian Davidson MP:
It’s about – it’s about whether it’s true or not, and what –

Presenter:
Did you use the phrase?  Is it true that you used the phrase?

Ian Davidson MP:
Well, I used the phrase – after a debate had taken place about her behaviour, you –

Presenter:
What, exactly, did you say?

Ian Davidson MP:
What I said…  It was along the lines of “You’ve been given a doing, now let’s move on”.  Now, it referred – past-tense – to the discussion that had taken place.  There was no suggestion that that was a threat for the future and there are eight other members of the committee who were there who have confirmed that no threat was made.

Presenter:
What did you mean by the comment?

Ian Davidson MP:
Well, she’d been rebuked quite severely for misbehaviour, led off by myself.  A number of other people came in and said what she had done was unacceptable.  They were very unhappy with it.  I then stepped in and felt that the discussion had gone far enough, said that “you’ve had a doing, let’s move on to the next item”.

Presenter:
So did you or did you not say that, if she leaked anything –

Ian Davidson MP:
No, I did not.

Presenter:
…In future, that she would be getting a doing?

Ian Davidson MP:
No, I did not and nobody else on the committee takes that view.  I mean, the Labour Party – as soon as this came out, the Labour Party took this very seriously, as did I, and they called me in and wanted to hear my version and said, we will go off and speak to everybody else…  All the other Labour members on the committee.  I insisted that they actually went off and spoke to the other members as well, the Conservatives and the Liberals, as well as the staff.  They did that.  They came back and said that not anybody who had been in that room took the view that there had been a threat –

Presenter:
And that was because –

Ian Davidson MP:
…Not a single person.

Presenter:
…You were saying this in the past tense, so –

Ian Davidson MP:
Yes, absolutely.

Presenter:
…There was no threat intended.

Ian Davidson MP:
I want to make it very clear that I did not at any time threaten or attempt to threaten Dr Whiteford.  What I said was, referring to the past, “you have had a doing”…  Perhaps – and I apologise subsequently for the word “doing”, because somebody said to me, “That’s capable of
misinterpretation”.  I maybe should’ve said “You’ve had a row… You’ve had a scolding…  You’ve had a reprimand, you’ve had a rebuke, let’s move on”…  Because several people had weighed in and given her a row and expressed their concern and unhappiness.  Others were lining up to do exactly the same.  I thought the point had been made and therefore, you know, enough – that the purpose had been served.  She’d been rebuked and we should move on to the next item.  At no time was I suggesting that, if anything happened in the future, she would be given a doing in any way.

Presenter:
In terms of using a phrase like that…   I mean, we’ve had people texting in to the programme this morning accusing you of rudeness.  Do you think it is appropriate behaviour?

Ian Davidson MP:
No.  I accept – I accept that the word “doing” was unacceptable, and that – a member of the committee subsequently dropped me a note saying, “That’s capable of misinterpretation, don’t use that again in future”…  And as soon as she got that, I decided that I should go across to Eilidh as soon as the meeting finished, which I did, and say, that was…  You know, I got a note from somebody saying that that was an inappropriate term to have used because it has sexual connotations.  That was most certainly not the intention –

Presenter:
So –

Ian Davidson MP:
…And I made that point to her and apologised at that time, and that – I have subsequently apologised again for that, but I am certainly –

Presenter:
She said, a “half-hearted” apology.  Can you make a more fulsome one?

Ian Davidson MP:
Oh, I’m certainly happy to apology – apologise to anyone who’s listening and to Eilidh for using the word “doing”.   I should’ve used the word “rebuke, scolding, reprimand” or something similar, because I didn’t at the time think of the sexual connotations.  It’s not a phrase that I would think of in those terms, but that was not my intention, but in any event, it was referring to something that had passed.   At no time – and all the witnesses in the room confirm this – at no time, was a threat made to Dr Whiteford.

Presenter:
And the other member of the committee who passed the note to you, having heard your remarks – were they bringing it to your attention because of the…  You know, I suppose the nature of the comment, or was it because they thought it was threatening?

Ian Davidson MP:
No.  They were passing it to me because of the nature of the comment.  It was…  I don’t have the note but it was along the lines of, “Don’t use that again, because it’s capable of misinterpretation”, and then when the person involved was leaving the meeting early, they said “That could be interpreted sexually”, which had not occurred to me… And, because it had not occurred to me – and perhaps it should’ve – as soon as the meeting finished, I went across to Eilidh and said, that – you know, the element of sexual connotation that could be there, you know, was not intended and apologised for that, and I did that right away.

Presenter:
But if people feel that remarks like this are simply not appropriate for someone in your position, will you be resigning as chairman of the committee?

Iain Davidson MP:
I’ve apologised for using that term.  I’m certainly not apologising – or accepting for a moment – that I threatened or attempted to threaten Dr Whiteford and I think it’s worth just reminding your listeners that…  I think it’s eight witnesses in the committee all say that no threat was made.  Now, in these circumstances when eight witnesses are all saying that no threat was made, I think – I think that I can rest fairly sure that no threat was made by me…