Sexism row at the council

Thursday June 22nd 2017

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

The Midlothian Council Leader Derek Milligan has responded to claims from the SNP of sexism in the council chamber.

The Midlothian SNP Council Group has called on the Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale to intervene to reverse the sexist decisions made by the new Labour Administration.

Midlothian Council achieved the highest percentage of equal representation of any Local Authority in Scotland at the May 2017 elections, with 39% of women elected, rising from 24% in 2012.

However, the Midlothian SNP group say that the new Midlothian Labour Administration has chosen to only appoint male Councillors to Cabinet Roles and COSLA Sub-Committees, ignoring the request from COSLA to have a gender balanced delegation, and leaving women in Midlothian with no Senior representation.

SNP Council Group Leader in Midlothian, Cllr Kelly Parry said:

“This is a backwards step for Midlothian’s gender equality and a return to dark times for Midlothian”

“A hundred years ago women had to fight hard for the right to vote – and we’ve waited a hundred years more to see women given their place in Local Government only for the Labour Party to squander it in order to give jobs to the boys.”

“Midlothian has huge inequality issues, ranging from disparity in pay, access to education and a shockingly high record of domestic abuse – this is an appalling message to send. Voters have put trust in their representatives, including the seven elected women Councillors who come from all three parties and it’s high time Labour acknowledged this.”

“As a fellow feminist, and as an advocate of Women’s representation it is incumbent on Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour Party Leader to intervene as a matter of urgency.”

In response the Leader of the Council and leader of Midlothian Labour, Derek Milligan said:

“We had hoped that, after the General Election was concluded, Councillor Parry and the SNP Group would abandon the game playing and start to focus on looking after the interests of the people that they were elected to represent.

“Anyone can see from the financial papers on the Council agenda that there are enough problems for Councillors to deal with without the SNP leader trying to manufacture others.

“Five years of failure by the previous SNP administration to deal with the budget shortfall they knew was coming means that we need to find £12m of savings from our budget before the end of this year. That’s where our attention needs to be focussed, not on the nonsense that Councillor Parry is spouting.

“If Councillor Parry’s biggest concern is the number of women in senior Cabinet positions, then she and Councillor Johnstone should have taken up the offer of Cabinet positions which were made to them by the Labour Group, rather than refuse on the basis that a similar offer had also been made to another group.

“This is yet another attempt by the SNP to make mischief when what they should be trying to make a difference. These are the same tactics they tried during the General Election campaign and you would think they would have learned from the result that such tactics don’t work. Indeed I would argue that it is petty game playing like this that discourages more people, particularly women from getting involved in local politics.”

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