BEING very thick-skinned is a prerequisite to being an MP and it helps you tackle criticism, particularly when you believe it is not justified, Tory MP for Shipley Philip Davies has said.
Speaking with the Telegraph & Argus, Mr Davies said he was “at a loss” to understand why he was attacked for sticking up for equal rights and trying to knock-back Bills that were, he claims, a dog’s dinner.
But he says the views of those who point a finger at him give him no sleepless nights and he vows to continue standing up for his constituency and for what he feels is right for the country.
He refers to attacks by other MPs and other organisations over his attempt to block Bills aimed at protecting women only.
Just before Christmas he tried to “filibuster” a Bill in Parliament to tackle violence against women because the Bill did not make any attempt to protect men.
More recently he spoke against a Parliamentary Bill brought in by fellow Tory MP Nusrat Ghani during a Parliamentary Ten Minute Rule Bill titled “Aggravated murder of and violence against women”.
Mr Davies, 45, who has been Shipley MP since 2005 and was vociferous as a staunch Brexiter, said he spoke out against it because such a Bill should include violence against men.
He said: “I am most certainly not against women and do not condone violence against them at all. I am just against discriminatory Bills.”
In October 2015 Davies spoke for 90 minutes straight in order to block a law that would give carers free hospital parking. Philip Davies spoke for an hour and a half in the Commons, which, alongside another 80 minutes from other Tory MPs, meant that there was no time to vote on the law. The Labour MP Julie Cooper called this “shameless”.
“I really have no idea why I am attacked for standing up against bills that are absolutely nonsensical. I am at a loss,” he said.
“It seems it is a case of certain people just looking for a stick to beat me with. If a Labour politician had spoken out in the same way there would have been no comment,” he said.
“With the carers’ car parking Bill, if people had read the whole report they would have seen that it was grossly unfair to five out of six carers who would not have been eligible for free parking if the bill had gone through. It only related to those with an underlying entitlement to carers’ allowance - approximately one in six carers. On top of that it would be an administrative nightmare to run.
“How would hospitals know who was eligible to park for free or not? Would people have to apply for a badge? Would hospitals need to employ staff to check for these badges. It was a complete dog’s dinner and someone had to say ‘the emperor has got no clothes on here’.
“Because I was against it I am now being seen as an ogre towards carers. The irony is that some time ago my sister’s daughter had cancer when she was 11. My sister gave up her job to become a carer so I know what being a carer entails.
“On gender equality. I can’t see why people are attacking my views that bills for women only should not be allowed.
“If I introduced a Bill aimed at just protecting men from violence people would be up in arms. I am simply calling for gender equality.
“Statistics have shown that men too can be victims of honour killing, I agree not as high a proportion as women may be, but still high enough to cause concern and for people to appreciate that men can be victims too. All I am calling for is gender neutral legislation that seeks to help all victims and for the punishment of all offenders of these crimes.
“It seems to be a clear case of shooting the messenger, rather than the message.”
On the points people have raised accusing him of filibustering in Parliament to prevent enough time to allow a bill to be voted on he said: “Filibustering is not allowed in the House of Commons. Whereas in America where you could recite the phone book for five-and-half-hours to run down the clock, in Parliament you have rules to follow. You are allowed to speak for as long as you want, but you cannot repeat yourself and you cannot digress from the topic. It is not easy to speak at length in this way but if I didn’t I would not be doing my job as an MP.
“If other MPs were so concerned about my speaking out against a Bill, all it would take was 100 MPs to attend to support it but few do.”
“The ones who complain are people who never play the ball, but play the man rather than the ball.
“But I intend to carry on fighting for what I think is right and will continue to oppose “dog’s dinner” Bills because I am not prepared to be bullied.
“I care very much for my constituency and will fight for those who live here for as long as I can.”
As well as gender equality, the MP is pushing government to set out a timetable on when it will extend the number of crimes where a sentence handed down by judges can be challenged if deemed too lenient.
He has long called some sentences “ridiculously lenient” and said reforms were long overdue.