We Are Told Westminster Is No Use and Never Has Been. That Is as Absurd as It Is Ignorant. from Votes for Women and Sex Discrimination Legislation to Abortion Law Reform and Family Allowances, MPs Have Changed Women's Lives for the Better. If Any Nationalist Took Any Part in That, Perhaps They Could Tell Us about It?

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), September 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

We Are Told Westminster Is No Use and Never Has Been. That Is as Absurd as It Is Ignorant. from Votes for Women and Sex Discrimination Legislation to Abortion Law Reform and Family Allowances, MPs Have Changed Women's Lives for the Better. If Any Nationalist Took Any Part in That, Perhaps They Could Tell Us about It?


Maria Fyfe

Former Labour MP, No campaigner and editor of Women Saying No: A Positive Case against Independence

As a woman I find numerous reasons to be wary of the outcome of a Yes vote.

In January, for example, we found out 80,000 fewer women were studying part–time in our further education colleges since the SNP came to power.

They promise free childcare for one–year–olds upwards in an independent Scotland but cut back on the opportunities for women to educate themselves for a better job when they are free to seek work.

Why would they grossly reduce opportunities for women who are simply hoping for decently paid work while funding free university education for school leavers whose parents are wealthy enough to have sent them to fee–paying schools?

As for childcare? What a dog's breakfast. First the Nationalists claim it will be funded from the income tax paid by 60,000 women newly into work plus that of the 35,000 newly employed in childcare. Despite it being shown by the Scottish Parliament's information service that the true cost is some PS1.2billion before building and equipment are included, not PS700,000 as claimed.

What was really striking, though, was the apparent belief of the SNP that this would be enough to win over women voters.

Given that past performance is a fairly reliable guide to future conduct, the Nationalist record comes nowhere near Labour's in getting things done for women.

It was the Labour Party that created the Equal Pay Act and Harriet Harman has spelled out ways to deliver it when the next Labour Government is elected, such as requiring employers to publish their pay structure, thereby making it easier for unequally paid staff to pursue their case.

The White Paper repeatedly claims that an independent Scotland will be a fairer Scotland. It also claims Westminster is no use and never has been, an absurd and ignorant claim.

From votes for women and sex discrimination legislation to the 1967 Abortion Law reform and Family Allowances, MPs have delivered legislation that have changed women's lives for the better. If any leading Scottish Nationalist took part, maybe they would like to tell us about it.

So, how would the SNP build on these achievements? The White Paper mentions the need for more women on public boards but has nothing to say on the dearth of women in the ranks of their MSPs.

No wonder. When the Scottish Parliament was created 15 years ago, the Nationalists played no part in the battle for women's representation at a level comparable to the Scandinavian countries. In subsequent elections the share enjoyed by their women has actually fallen substantially.

I see in the UK a long history of achievement to the benefit of the many, through struggle by trade unions, political parties, individual MPs who promoted worthy causes, petitions and single–issue campaigns. Nothing was handed down from on high.

If this Tory–led Government were to win the next election, there would be even more rolling back of such achievements. Fortunately, they can be thrown out of office very soon by a public fed up with millionaires getting tax cuts while the working population have their wages held down.

Fed up with hospital waiting lists getting longer again. Fed up with house prices rising beyond belief. Fed up with ever–rising energy bills.

The SNP hope the Tories will look like being on course to win the next General Election because that serves their cause. Never mind if people endure the miseries of food banks, rising heating bills, wage cuts and much else besides meanwhile.

However, people should remember that the Tories last won a General Election outright as long ago as 1992. There will be voters in this referendum who were not even born then.

Nor is it true that the whole of England is more Conservative–minded than Scotland. …

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We Are Told Westminster Is No Use and Never Has Been. That Is as Absurd as It Is Ignorant. from Votes for Women and Sex Discrimination Legislation to Abortion Law Reform and Family Allowances, MPs Have Changed Women's Lives for the Better. If Any Nationalist Took Any Part in That, Perhaps They Could Tell Us about It?
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