When the Tory MP Philip Davies called for a Commons debate to mark International Men’s Day last week during a backbench business committee meeting, his suggestion was met with laughter from Labour’s Jess Phillips.
Phillips said that despite it being the case that a Commons debate currently marks International Women’s Day, it was ‘laughable’ to suggest that the men should have the same for International Men’s Day. She said that men do not need more opportunities to speak in the House of Commons given the current ratio of men to women.
So when the pair were brought together on the Daily Politics to air their differences, it made for some entertaining viewing. With Phillips not backing down — stating that the ‘idea that men can’t raise issues in Parliament and male parliamentarians don’t have enough opportunities is obviously ridiculous’, Davies accused Phillips of double standards:
PD: If you actually look in Parliament, those things — like the under-achievement of boys in school, testicular cancer rates and the under-reporting of male victims of domestic violence — very rarely get debated and they are real issues.
If Jess is saying that these issues can be debated at other times, then exactly the same things applies to things around national women’s day; we have a monthly questions of women and equality in Parliament which we don’t have for men. So if Jess is going to say to people who want a debate on international women’s day ‘well you don’t need one as there’s plenty of other opportunities to raise these issues’ then that would be entirely consistent. What wouldn’t be is if she supported an international women’s day debate but deprived one for international men’s day.
JP: What I say is that I didn’t deprive Philip Davies or the men in Parliament of this debate. Mr Davies forgot to fill in the form correctly.
PD: That’s not correct.
Phillips — who says that she does care about men’s issues — then suggested that rather than Davies earnestly fighting to help men, his motives were actually based in one-upmanship. ‘What was asked for was a mealy-mouthed “well the girl’s get one”,’ she complained.
The Labour MP then proceeded to take a swipe at Davies for filibustering last week for 90 minutes in order to block a Labour MP’s attempt to change the law to exempt carers from parking fees:
‘What I would suggest to you is that you put in for a debate on an actual motion so that the government has to actually do something about an issue — for example the very poor targeted services for men in mental health services — but I suspect that you might talk it out much like you did to the carers who asked for your help on Friday.’
With the committee meeting again tomorrow, Mr S is sure it will make for another lively exchange of views.