Deidre Brock MP has called for an apology from Yvette Cooper for suggesting that Scotland is less well equipped to deal with decisions on sensitive healthcare issues like abortion than Westminster.
In a letter to Ms Cooper, Ms Brock challenged her to provide evidence that 'smaller jurisdictions' were more likely to have the interests of women undermined by lobbyists, and invited her to apologise for the slur on Scotland's people and politicians.
Ms Brock said:-
"Ms Cooper's condescending comments underline how out of touch her party is with what's happening in Scotland. We have a progressive parliament in which the three main parties are all led by women coming from a feminist perspective. The idea that the male-dominated Palace of Westminster is better placed to take 'sensitive decisions' on Scottish women's healthcare is deeply patronising and patriarchal.
"I invite Ms Cooper to visit Scotland's Parliament and see the fantastic work being done by MSPs to protect and enhance the rights of all our citizens, and apologise for these ignorant remarks."
Notes to Editors
Ms Cooper's comments during Scottish Questions 4 Nov 2015: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151104/debtext/151104-0001.htm#15110440000009
Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): May I urge the Minister to think again about the devolution of abortion to Scotland? To have smaller jurisdictions making such sensitive decisions on healthcare is deeply unwise and would allow those who want to lobby against the interests of healthcare to undermine the interests of women both in Scotland and in England. I urge him to consult far more widely before making this very big step.
Full text of letter below
Dear Ms Cooper,
I listened to your question during Scottish Questions yesterday with some degree of horror that any Member of Parliament, and particularly one in the Labour party, would harbour such thoughts, far less voice them.
"Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): May I urge the Minister to think again about the devolution of abortion to Scotland? To have smaller jurisdictions making such sensitive decisions on healthcare is deeply unwise and would allow those who want to lobby against the interests of healthcare to undermine the interests of women both in Scotland and in England. I urge him to consult far more widely before making this very big step."
Can I invite you to share the evidence you have that the size of a jurisdiction correlates with failures in decisions on abortion and other 'sensitive decisions'? Perhaps you have evidence that Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Estonia, Iceland and Latvia have seen the interests of women undermined by lobbyists? You may have evidence, on the other hand, that Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya and Saudi Arabia have seen the interests of women protected and their rights enhanced?
Your implication that the Scottish Parliament would somehow be less equipped to take decisions on abortion than the Westminster Parliament dominated by English MPs is not only arrogant and condescending but also does a great disservice to your Labour colleagues in Holyrood. Such a patronising view of Scotland could have been avoided by looking at Scottish politics and noting that the three main parties are all led by strong women with feminist viewpoints and that the general current of political debate in Scotland is towards protecting and enhancing the rights of women.
Can I invite you to apologise to Scotland's people and politicians for this slight; to apologise to Scotland's women, in particular, for suggesting that we need someone else to stick up for us; and to withdraw your remarks at the earliest possible opportunity?
I look forward to your early reply.
Deidre Brock MP.