General Election: Women's Equality Party leader seeks to oust 'sexist' MP Philip Davies

Sophie Walker is determined to be the new representative of voters in Shipley, Yorkshire

Rachael Revesz
Sunday 23 April 2017 16:52
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Ms Walker accused Mr Davies of prioritizing his 'ego' over his constituents
Ms Walker accused Mr Davies of prioritizing his 'ego' over his constituents

The leader of the Women’s Equality Party is gaining cross-party support to replace a male Yorkshire MP who fought a law protecting women against violence and who wanted to remove the word “women” from the Women and Equalities Committee.

Sophie Walker, the pro-equal pay politician who became leader of WEP in 2015, has likely gained enough support from local Green Party and Liberal Democrat candidates to get a free run for Philip Davies’ seat in Shipley, West Yorkshire.

Mr Davies has long been a controversial backbencher in Parliament, and a fan of filibustering. He was criticised for telling a men’s rights conference last year that “feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it”, prompting hundreds of women to eat cake and post the pictures online.

He was also condemned for his 91-minute speech to block an anti-domestic violence bill – the bill had a landslide victory of 138 votes to one.

“Philip Davies’s track record of misogyny should have no place in Parliament,” Ms Walker, a former journalist, said in a statement.

“It is a national embarrassment that he sits on the Women and Equalities Committee. Shipley deserves an MP that will represent the needs and interests of all its constituents, instead of one who spends constituency time on a self-indulgent anti-women campaign.”

HUSTINGS SOPHIE WALKER OPENING SOT

She added: “Right now if you live in Shipley, your MP is best known in Parliament as a sexist whose favourite pastime is inventing long speeches to prevent other MPs from passing important legislation such as the provision of free hospital parking for carers and compulsory sex and relationships education in schools.

“He has taken time to write to the EHRC with questions including ‘why it is so offensive to black up your face?’ and suggested that disabled people should offer to work for less.”

Mr Davies responded that Ms Walker has never been able to “find even one quote” in his 12 years at Parliament to show he believes women should be treated less favourably than a man.

“I would very much welcome Ms Walker parachuting herself into Shipley as a candidate with her extreme politically correct agenda of positive discrimination and quotas, and am very happy to let the good people of the Shipley constituency decide who they want to represent them,” he told The Guardian.

Philip Davies: 'Women and equalities committee' should be renamed to remove reference to women

While local Green candidates reportedly offered to stand aside for Ms Walker, and there is support among Lib Dem officials, Labour might seek to present its own candidate.

The pro-Brexit Mr Davies gained a majority of 9,624 votes over the Labour candidate in 2015, in a town of around 15,500.

Ms Walker, a Remain supporter, favours a chance for MPs to vote the Brexit deal down if necessary, and carrying out an “equality impact assessment” on the final outcome.

The news of the cross-party strategy in Shipley comes as left-wing pressure group Compass launched a website to build a “progressive alliance” to prevent the Conservatives gaining an anticipated lead of 100 seats in Parliament come June.

“We can overturn our unfair electoral system and build a progressive majority,” the website reads.

“We’ve got to put aside the old tribal politics.”

Parties were left reeling after Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap election would be held on 8 June. Opponents are now focusing on areas such as Brighton and East Sussex, where tactical voting could have an impact, and organising rallies in cities they want to target.

WEP, which is currently backing its candidate Tabitha Morton to become the first woman mayor of Liverpool, was founded by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig two years ago and has grown to more than 65,000 members.

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