TORY politicians at Westminster seem to be acting under a definite “attack dog” policy of dismissiveness towards SNP MPs, Dr Philippa Whitford has told the National.
The SNP MP for Central Ayrshire was speaking yesterday in the wake of an exchange with Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons which saw the Tory accused of “patronising mansplaining”.
Hancock told Whitford, a consultant surgeon with nearly four decades in medicine, to “go back [and] study the details” after she cited a scientific study raising concerns around the efficacy of certain Covid tests.
Whitford had asked why the UK Government was preparing to spend £43 billion on tests which only have around a 50% accuracy rate, a question to which Hancock gave “one of his more aggressively egregious, rude, dismissive, and patronising responses”, according to the SNP’s health spokeswoman.
READ MORE: Matt Hancock slammed for ‘patronising mansplaining’ of Covid testing to SNP MP
Referencing Rosena Allin-Khan, a doctor who represents Labour at Westminster, and how Hancock told her to watch her “tone” in response to a question about Covid testing, Whitford added: “I do wonder, was there a lady doctor who scared him when he was wee or something? Does he have a thing against women doctors?”
Whitford also mentioned Kevin Foster, the parliamentary under-secretary who was dismissive towards SNP MPs Joanna Cherry and Neale Hanvey yesterday, eventually saying that the SNP want to “rebuild Hadrian’s Wall and get England to pay for it”.
Whitford said the two Tories’ behaviour was evidence of a wider shift in discourse that has taken place since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
The SNP MP said she and other colleagues had noted a “general ‘attack dog’ response” to their contributions in the Commons, “regardless of their knowledge or expertise”.
Whitford went on: “I think there’s definitely a policy now. [Former health secretary] Jeremy Hunt would say ‘the honourable lady’s expertise blah blah blah’. There’s none of that now. As people have pointed out, [Hancock] refers to me as ‘she’.
“I don’t care much about things like that, that’s their stuff, but there’s been repeated episodes over these ten months where I’m raising something that is genuine and important and he is just rude and patronising instead of actually answering it and dealing with it.
“With this Government it’s just full-on rude and dismissive. I think there’s a general ‘just be rude to the SNP MPs’ which has been going on all year, since the last General Election.
“It’s like they don’t have the insight to realise we won the vast majority of Scottish seats because we have more support than any other party, so attacking us doesn’t really score you a lot of points up here.
READ MORE: Kevin Foster says SNP want to ‘rebuild Hadrian’s Wall and make England pay’
“Especially when it’s someone like Joanna [Cherry] talking on legal issues or home office issues or I’m speaking on health and they’re just ignorant in response, it doesn’t really look very good.”
Whitford also said it was an issue that, of the 650 MPs in Westminster, only around 30 had any kind of science background. “And yet,” she said, “the situation that we are in requires an understanding of the science”.
“When you see how they ignored the advice of Sage [Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] back in September, they seem to think they can just put their head in the sand and somehow it’ll all magically be better.”
Whitford said it was both “frustrating” and “tiring” dealing with such an opposition, adding: “But watching the UK Government repeatedly go down these wrong turnings and cul-de-sacs, it’s not just a matter of being frustrated.
“Not locking down early enough is estimated [to have led to] 1.3 million extra cases in England than there needed to be, and that will have resulted in between 7000 and 13,000 extra deaths. That is the point of it all.”