SNP MP warns of ‘odd’ behaviour by male politicians towards women

Kirsty Blackman MP said female colleagues had been receiving comments about their clothes from male politicians. Picture: PA

Kirsty Blackman MP said female colleagues had been receiving comments about their clothes from male politicians. Picture: PA

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An SNP MP has warned not enough is being done to tackle “odd” behaviour by male politicians towards their female counterparts in Parliament.

Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) said some of her colleagues have been subjected to comments about their clothes from male MPs.

Some of my colleagues have had their outfits commented on by male MPs.

Kirsty Blackman MP

She insisted there are too few people “standing up to it” as she backed an independent report which has suggested ways to make Parliament more inclusive, diverse and family-friendly.

Labour former minister Chris Bryant suggested creating a “tour of women” in Parliament as visitors currently receive one which is “all about the white dead men”.

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Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on the Good Parliament report by the University of Bristol’s Professor Sarah Childs, Ms Blackman said: “I think the recommendation about standards of behaviour is really important, not just because of the farce that is PMQs but because of some of the quieter things you don’t so much hear about.

“So, some of my colleagues have had their outfits commented on by male MPs.

“Now, that’s not appropriate - people shouldn’t be making odd comments about outfits.

“I don’t think that behaviour is tackled enough. I don’t think there’s enough of an argument when faced with that behaviour - not enough people are standing up to it.”

Professor Childs’s report recommends that Parliament’s Works of Art Committee commits to “diverse artwork” in a restored Palace of Westminster.

Mr Bryant, in his speech, said: “There are actually more pictures and statues of women around in Parliament than one would think.

“But it’s not part of the standard tour that’s done because the standard tour is all about the white dead men and actually it wouldn’t be a bad idea - I’m quite happy to organise it if we didn’t create - a tour of women in Parliament, which would be perfectly easily done around the building.”

Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) criticised the independent publication, claiming it should be known as the “Politically Correct Parliament report”.

He insisted he is “completely opposed” to all-women shortlists and quotas, adding: “I couldn’t care less whether every single MP in Parliament was a woman, if every position in Parliament was held by a woman or if everybody in the Cabinet was a woman.

“As far as I’m concerned, as long as they’re there on merit, it’s irrelevant to me what the gender of anyone is.

“We should be gender blind as far as I’m concerned.

“I really think that the true sexists are the people who see everything in terms of gender.

“We shouldn’t be judging people based on their gender, we should look at people based on their ability.”

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