A Labour MP has kicked off a sexism row after he suggested that the post of fisheries minister would be unsuitable for a woman. Frank Doran made the remarks in a Commons debate on the fishing industry and tried to cover up his faux pas by saying “I know the fishing industry”, the Daily Mail reports.
The MP for Aberdeen North’s remarks were met with gasps in the chamber and a number of both female and male MPs spoke out against them.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan called his comments “outrageous and deeply offensive” and demanded an apology and Scottish cabinet minister Richard Lochhead said he had seen many female representatives from other EU countries who were “tougher” than men from Defra.
So Labour MP Frank Doran unsure if Fisheries Minister is job for a woman! I’ve seen many EU female ministers tougher than DEFRA’s weak men!
— Richard Lochhead (@RichardLochhead) December 11, 2014
The most important position in Europe and arguably in the world for fisheries is the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries which since 2010 has been held by the Greek politician Maria Damanaki. Her portfolio covers the Common Fisheries Policy which tells national fisheries ministers what they can and can’t do.
Mr Doran’s comments came as he recalled previous fishing debates in the Commons and the “biting” questions a minister previously faced due to the large numbers of coastal towns and fishing villages in the UK whose numbers have rapidly declined with the measly quotas they are handed from Brussels.
“I’m trying to remember if we’ve ever had a female fisheries minister, I don’t think we have,” he said.
Sheryll Murray, the Conservative MP for South East Cornwall whose late husband was a trawler man intervened to tell him: “We haven’t but we have had former female secretaries of state.”
Mr Doran responded saying: “You’re absolutely right but no dedicated fisheries ministers,” before adding, “I’m not sure it is a job for a woman although the honourable lady might reach that.”
UKIP MEP Jane Collins who represents Yorkshire and North East Lincolnshire told Breitbart London: “It has been male fisheries ministers who have taken part in negotiations which have seen our fishing industry all but destroyed by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.”
The UK handed over control of its fishing stock when it joined the Common Market in the 1970s. Since then, increasing chunks of control have been handed over to Brussels including how much of each type of fish British trawler men are allowed to catch.
Speaking outside the commons, Mrs Morgan said that Frank Doran “should apologise immediately.”
“Labour are very good at throwing stones but they are too quick to ignore blatant sexism within their own ranks – Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman cannot ignore this.”