DH cropDuncan Hothersall, Editor of Labour Hame, can’t let this one pass. Scottish MPs indulged in partisan politics last night and let down the people they are meant to represent.


Yesterday’s Scotland Bill debate, like most chamber debates, won’t have been viewed by the majority of the public. This morning most of the 51% of women in Scottish society will be unaware of how spectacularly they were let down.

Last night, MPs (71% of whom are men) voted down the ability to introduce quotas in the Scottish Parliament and public boards.

Before you ask, here is the detail:

  • Amendment 123 was submitted by Ian Murray MP (Labour). This amendment would have devolved the ability to implement quotas in the Scottish Parliament to increase the number of women.
  • Amendment 162 was submitted by Angus Robertson MP and Angela Crawley MP (SNP). This would have devolved the ability to implement quotas in public authorities (public boards, local authorities, education bodies etc.).

Both amendments compliment each other well, both would support equality for women in public life.

The SNP, in the words of one of their MPs, would “back any new powers to strengthen the Scottish Parliament”. So why, then, did this not extend to the ability to implement quotas in the Scottish Parliament?

The SNP managed to vote with Conservative and Liberal Democrat anti-choice MPs to devolve abortion law, despite 14 Scottish women’s organisations asking them not to. Yet they could not find it in themselves to vote alongside Labour to devolve quotas to the Scottish Parliament?

Labour, by contrast, managed to find the strength to act cross-party and vote in favour of the SNP amendment. Why? Because tackling inequality doesn’t belong to any one party, it is the duty of all parties.

It’s true that 56 additional MPs voting in favour of the amendment might not have meant it passed, but there is a principle here, a principle which the women of Scotland surely deserve: that when it comes to equality, we can cast aside our party lines and work together.

Perhaps the most gob-smacking part of this SNP decision to abstain is the fact that it completely ignores their own First Minister’s position. Nicola Sturgeon has given her full backing to the Women 50:50 campaign. She has put her weight behind quotas on public boards and elections to the Scottish Parliament and local councils! It seems that SNP MPs simply didn’t get the memo.

Sometimes you need to swallow the bitterness and do the right thing. This debate was one of those times. Why couldn’t the SNP simply have voted for both amendments?

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27 thoughts on “Partisan politics just failed women

  1. “The SNP, in the words of one of their MPs, would “back any new powers to strengthen the Scottish Parliament”. So why, then, did this not extend to the ability to implement quotas in the Scottish Parliament?”

    In what way would subverting the democratic process by introducing quota limitations give more power to the Scottish Parliament? By Labour SNP Bad standards this goes through the bottom of the barrel and digs deeply into the sewer. In other words business as usual for you Duncan.
    Come back when you have a genuine complaint to make.

    1. In what way would giving the Scottish Parliament the additional power to introduce quotas give more power to the Scottish Parliament? Hmm. Tricky one, Mike…

    1. You’re not listening, Mike. The amendment would have given the Scottish Parliament the power to introduce quotas.

  2. To understand why the SNP might have voted against an amendment (or abstained) it is essential to first understand the full implications of that amendment. For example, an amendment may purport to transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament but, in practice, actually do no more than increase the powers of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

    Naturally, Duncan Hothersall has no interest in such comprehensive understanding. As ever, his sole concern is mindlessly lashing out at the SNP.

    1. On the contrary, Peter. I have looked into it. I’m a supporter of the Women 50:50 campaign – as is Nicola Sturgeon – and that organisation has looked into it too. Here is its response from this morning: https://twitter.com/Women5050/status/618327515401203712

      To be frank, Peter, my approach to this is considerably more open and honest than yours. You are trying to imply there was subterfuge in the Labour amendment, without actually being able to point to it. That is of course because there’s nothing to point at, there is no subterfuge. But you are desperate to paint Labour as the bad guys here.

      The reality is as I have stated very clearly. Labour supported the SNP amendment, but the SNP couldn’t bring itself to support the Labour amendment. The SNP MPs are an embarrassment and have let down Scotland.

      1. I merely point out that, were you interested in a full and informed examination of the issue, rather than just your usual tiresome “SNP BAD!” claptrap, then you would have supplied details of the amendments rather than laughably expecting people to accept the interpretation of someone as prejudiced as yourself.

        You have to bear in mind that you come to these matters lacking any credibility.

        1. For something to be “claptrap”, doesn’t it have to be incorrect?

  3. Quotas for what? What quotas does the Scottish Parliament need that it cant have now?

    1. Quotas for membership of the Scottish Parliament and also quotas for membership of public boards. These are specifically the quotas campaigned for by the Women 50:50 Campaign which has been endorsed by politicians from a range of parties, including one Nicola Sturgeon.

      You might disagree with Nicola Sturgeon on this, but you cannot honestly argue that the power to introduce such quotas is not actually a power.

      I look forward to you doing precisely that, though, Mike. Don’t let me down.

      1. It isn’t a “Devolved Scottish Parliamentary power” Duncan! The legislation is not specific to the Scottish Parliament. It is a matter of civil legal statute not political parliamentary jurisdiction. It is not a “Power” the Parliament can wield it is a legal statute enforced by the courts and legal system.

  4. I cant even figure out what your actual complaint is. There is no Scottish Parliament power at stake here . The SNP amendment went further than the Labour amendment and is therefore inclusive of the Labour amendment.
    Its seems to me it was Labour who abstained on the greater amendment.
    No wonder you felt the need to default to your usual lying and spinning.

    1. Labour didn’t abstain on the SNP amendment, Mike. Now you’re just lying. Labour SUPPORTED the SNP amendment. And suddenly, now you’ve realised there was an SNP amendment as well, your argument that it wasn’t actually about new powers disappears in a puff of smoke? No longer “subverting the democratic process” Mike, now that it’s the SNP backing it?

  5. This is about bringing in Nationwide legal legislation across the public sector. Or it would have been had Labour not abstained. This is nothing to do with more power to the Scottish Parliament at all.

    1. Labour DIDN’T abstain on the SNP amendment Mike.

      For once in your life find out the facts before commenting.

  6. How could I have missed the fact that the SNP had an amendment when you included it in your first post? Lol! Get a grip.

    What on earth is your complaint? If as you say Labour and the SNP voted for amendment 162 then as its the greater amendment and inclusive of amendment 123 then your entire post is a havering work of Another SNP bad attempt gone wrong.

    1. 162 was not inclusive of 123. That’s another falsehood.

      Unless you’re calling the Women 50:50 campaigners liars.

  7. As I suspected, Duncan’s “interpretation” of the British Labour amendment is… shall we be generous and say “misleading”? He claims that it,

    “would have devolved the ability to implement quotas in the Scottish Parliament to increase the number of women”

    In reality, it would have introduced,

    “a requirement for gender balance among the members of the Scottish Parliament and members of boards of Scottish public authorities”

    The critical word there is “requirement”. It actually sought to impose a constraint on the make-up of the Scottish Parliament without setting out any process or time-scale for achieving this and, crucially, without obtaining the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

    Sane, sober and sensible people will immediately see why the SNP group at Westminster had to abstain.

    1. As ever I can’t decide whether it’s wilful dishonesty or simply ignorance from you Peter.

      The amendment would not have “introduced” a “requirement”. It would have removed from reservation the power to implement a requirement. In other words it would have devolved to the Scottish Parliament the power to introduce “a requirement for…” etc.

      To understand an amendment one needs to read it in the context of the bill being amended, not in isolation.

      Before you comment again, Peter, try establishing the facts.

        1. I know you quoted the Labour amendment Peter. Let me repeat myself: To understand an amendment one needs to read it in the context of the bill being amended, not in isolation.

          You’re pretending that because the amendment starts with “a requirement…”, it would be placing a requirement on the Scottish Parliament. But the amendment is to a section of the Scotland Bill which is setting out exceptions from the reservation of equality powers. “A requirement” isn’t the start of the sentence.

          I hope I’ve clarified that for you.

          1. I clarified it for myself by reading the amendment in the context of the Bill. As I said, it would have introduced a requirement.

            Here are the links that you should have provided. I’m now done with you. Until your next little bit of dishonesty.

            Amendment: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2015-2016/0003/amend/pbc030107a.1-7.html

            Relevant section of Bill: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2015-2016/0048/cbill_2015-20160048_en_5.htm

          2. Your links prove my point. Amendment 123 would have added to the Exceptions to the reservation of Equalities powers an additional inclusion, that being the power to make “provision imposing” “a requirement for gender balance among the members of the Scottish Parliament and members of boards of Scottish public authorities”.

            Legislative amendments are confusing, but despite your (wilful) ignorance, the SNP MPs who actually abstained on Labour’s amendment would have had a full briefing explaining the effects of the amendment.

            The SNP voted against the devolution of the power to implement the Women 50:50 pledge that Nicola Sturgeon backs. They need to answer why.

  8. There you go with that word power again. “The power to implement a requirement” The Scottish Parliament already has the “Power” to implement requirements Duncan if it didn’t it wouldn’t be a Parliament.

  9. Partisan?
    The Labour Party representation at Westminster is overwhelming from England. Why would they want the Scottish Parliament to have a “Power” they don’t appear to want for the Westminster Parliament, either in the Lower or Upper Houses?
    Does this desire for Quota’s reflect the situation in the wider Labour Movement?
    Do women have equal status in the Trade Unions, for example? My Mother fought, decades ago, to get the NUM to fight for equal pay for surface workers, which would have raised women’s wages. She had died before this became a reality. Other women have seen councils pay unequal wages, again for decades, because Trades Unions refused to fight for women’s equal wages.
    How many Trades Unions representing a majority of women members have ever had women at the top?

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