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First minister accused of sexist jibe in Senedd

10 May 2023 3 minute read
The exchange happened during this week’s FMQ’s

Emily Price

First Minister Mark Drakeford has been accused of aiming a sexist jibe at a Welsh Conservative shadow minister in the Senedd.

During a respose to a question from Shadow Education Minister, Laura Anne Jones, the First Minister described her as raising a “shrill and deliberately divisive debate”.

The Conservative MS has since made a formal complaint to the Senedd’s Presiding Officer, Elin Jones regarding the use language which she says was “discriminatory, sexist and offensive”.

The exchange took place during FMQ’s on Tuesday (May 10) when Ms Jones asked a question about “biological women and girls rights.”

The Shadow Minister for Education asked: “Which statement from your UK Labour leader do you agree with? Do you agree that biological men can be women and therefore enter vulnerable women only spaces, changing rooms and participate in women only sports? 

“Or, do you agree with his statement that biological women and girls rights should not be rolled back and therefore you’ll be rewriting your LGBTQ action plan, dropping your gender recognition reform plan and contracting fact based sex education in schools to reflect that?”

Complaint

Mark Drakeford replied: “I’m simply not going to get drawn into the shrill and deliberately divisive debate that the member continuously attempts to raise on the floor of the Senedd.

“Did she not see that her party lost over 1000 seats in the elections in England last week. I don’t think its wise for her to come here telling me that my party doesn’t understand the priorities of people in Wales. Your party absolutely has lost any credibility it may ever of had on that basis.

“The member and people like her spent the whole of April trying to raise these dog whistle concerns and found – as I have been confident all along – that people out there have a much greater sense of decency than the Conservative Party ever contributes to them.

“They are not interested in attacks on black people, they are not interested in attacks on asylum seekers, exactly the sort of agenda that the member herself pursues and her party pursues.

“Don’t come here and tell me that I don’t understand peoples priorities when you pursue an agenda that is designed exclusively to divide people when our job should be to try and unite people in pursuit of basic decencies.

Ms Jones has made a formal complaint about the language used by the First Minister and has claimed that the use of the word “shrill” contravenes the Members Code of Conduct.

The Welsh Conservative shadow minister has called on Mark Drakeford to apologise.

In a statement Laura Anne Jones said: “I was appalled that after asking a valid and important question on women’s rights, the First Minister felt it appropriate to use age old misogynistic language in his response.

“I was also shocked that he proceeded to throw decisive slurs at me regarding racism and transphobia because I’m deeply concerned about the effects of Welsh policies on women’s rights.”

A spokesperson for Mark Drakeford declined to comment.


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CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago

If use of the term “shrill” in describing the character of a talking point is sexist, maybe we should demand the immediate release of the data, methodology and all documents used in the prosiect pawb report. T’was ever thus, but it seems that transparency in politics is somehow getting even worse. Meanwhile the Welsh public’s apathy justifiably grows.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
9 months ago

Does Mark Drakeford have anger management issues? He always looks angry.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

I tend to agree. The question was a valid one, in my opinion. Why get so defensive?

Askelkana
Askelkana
9 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Evasive, more like. Deflection to avoid the question. Classic weapon of the politician.

Daf
Daf
9 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

I’d want to cut him some slack as he has very recently lost his wife. That said, his response to this MS’s question was unfair, and really quite nasty – all that stuff about ‘black people’ and asylum seekers just came across as an angry attempt to smear and distract. Laura Ann Jones never mentioned any of it – he was just making it up. If Drakeford is better off taking a back seat right now then surely Welsh Labour could put someone else up to answer questions.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Don’t make such sweeping statements MD, some in the North West quadrant of Cymru are more than ready to disagree with you on your idea of ‘inclusivity’.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

MD’s concept of inclusivity is very selective. Tut. But cut him some slack after all he’s getting on a bit, old and feeble. Or do such words offend the easily offended ?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I do, I feel for the man, for his loss and the pressure has been under for the last three and a half years, I really do. I had my own ‘hen oed’ moment yesterday and had to ask for help carrying some heavy boxes, but perhaps he and A P could exit the building together when both are ready…I refuse to believe you are having a little dig there…

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I don’t think that you are easily offended, bit like me in that respect. I was openly ‘avin’ a dig at these oh so precious politicians in the Bay Bubble promoting odd causes while neglecting the very real challenges that confront us out ar lawr gwlad.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I knew that hd, we’ve been around the block a bit and have seen humanity from all sides…

As my bully of a boss used to say as we were detailed off for the day after some gobsh*te remark, “if you can’t take a joke you should not have joined”…

Oh for a bit of joined up thinking for the benefit of those that pay their wages…

Daf
Daf
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Plenty in Cardiff too. It is weird how Drakeford has lost the plot on this subject. He is very out of step with Labour voters in Wales (Starmer at least seems to be getting a dose of common sense, late in the day – perhaps Starmer is less influenced by his SPADS than Drakeford).

A.Redman
A.Redman
9 months ago

“not interested in attacks on Asylum seekers” says First Minister when responding to valid question by Conservative MS. Any plans to control illegal immigration has been opposed by Labour .Now there is a plan to house some in a large property in N.Wales but the local Council and residents are opposing it.” Not a welcome in the hillside for all”? Obviously!!!

Llyn
Llyn
9 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

This may come as a surprise to you but the issue regarding migrants crossing the English Channel has occured entirely under this Conservative Government.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

Call me Dave’s Weird Sisters May, Patel and Braverman have put a curse on his country that will take generations to remove if ever…

Brenda McBurney
Brenda McBurney
9 months ago

Mark Drakeford talks about “the people out there” – its time he came off his high horse and started listening to those people out there. He is totally captured by all things trans. He has rewritten the Equality Act and removed the protected characteristic of “sex” – by doing so he has removed women and girls legal right to single sex spaces. Its time Labour came out of its ivory tower and started really listening to the public. Let the fall of Adam Price be a lesson – misogyny will catch you out!

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago

Bang on the button. Men spent decades, even centuries suppressing women’s rights. Now it’s men in frocks doing exactly the same in a quite overt way.

Llyn
Llyn
9 months ago

Brenda, please can you point me to the provision of the Equality Act which you say Mark Drakeford has amended.

You won’t be able to as equality issues are not devolved.

Daf
Daf
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

This is a good point – the Equality Act applies UK wide (as the SNP knew, and ignored, to their cost) – so does the Gender Recognition Act. Drakeford has pledged to amend the GRA in Wales in order to allow ‘gender self ID’. But this isn’t possible. Because, like the EA, the GRA does not come under devolved powers. So it is baffling why Drakeford promised to change a law that he can’t.

Isabel Jones
Isabel Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Daf

Self-ID already exists here in Wales and throughout the UK. Only a couple of weeks ago an elderly friend shooed a man who said he was a woman out of the loos at M&S at Parc Trostre and was told by the staff there that it’s an ongoing issue, but usually women are too scared to do anything about it. There have been men in the women’s changing rooms there too. This is everyday reality already, despite not being legal. Call the police about it and you’ll find they’ve been Stonewalled and you, with your expectation of women-only in women’s… Read more »

Isabel Jones
Isabel Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

There are a number of instances of documentation, too many to list and going back years, where under the guidance of Stonewall the Welsh government has changed the protected characteristics to suit its ends. The most recent example is the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, issued on 7 February this year. On page 7 of my copy (there are two different versions but the text is the same in each even if the page numbers vary), the First Minister has written an introduction that mentions the protected characteristics included in the Equality Act — Disability, Race, Religion and belief and so on… Read more »

Helen
Helen
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

It’s the way the equality act is being interpreted that’s the issue. Copies of minutes held between Stonewall and Welsh ministers show that they freely use gender instead of sex. At one point they omitted sex completely from protected characteristics in documents. They have been pulled up on that but the more elasticinterpretation remains. The use of sex as in biological sex in its original form has been skewed.

Jono
Jono
9 months ago

Dripford claims to understand the people of Wales…. If he truly did he would have gone by now and taken his draconian policies on transport with him!

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
9 months ago

Since when did a debate have a gender? Or did she think he was calling her “shrill” and she automatically assumed that females are all “shrill”?
This is the crazed loonie Laura Anne Jones that fancies a bit of chav shooting, is it not?

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

She may be a bit unhinged but this time she asked a very relevant question.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

In Everyday Misogyny ‘shrill’ is a long standing trigger word, often used in Parliament and other such places to put down women. MD must know that…

Who here followed the recent Rowson cartoon about the BBC’s Richard Sharp controversy in the Guardian?

Hannah Bartholomew
Hannah Bartholomew
9 months ago

The man is drunk on power and misogyny. He swept this perfectly pertinent question aside, attempting to continue the pretence that Welsh women don’t exist or don’t have concerns about the way MD and LPW are forging ahead with ideologically driven plans. Why won’t MD engage?

Llyn
Llyn
9 months ago

The reaction of the Welsh Conservative Party appears to very pc and contradictory for self declared free speech advocates.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

Agreed. “The ironing is delicious” – Bart Simpson.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

OED: Shrill. “A high-pitched and piercing noise.” Look, the Tories really do have thin skins. To describe something or someone as shrill is merely descriptive not sexist. Would she have been offended if she was referred to as being loud? Also, if a female MS was sarcastic towards a male counterpart during a debate and they referred to his gender would this also be deemed sexist, or would those now making accusations say it’s merely a female politician being strong & assertive? Here’s what real sexism looks like. Remember Rob Roberts, MP for Delyn. He made sexual advances towards his… Read more »

Glen
Glen
9 months ago

Drakeford, Davies, Price. Wales has a dearth of political talent and leadership.

Imagine an independent Wales being run by these clowns.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Glen

That nail went right in, we need someone with state building qualifications, where’s a General MacArthur or George C. Marshall to put us on the road to prosperity…

Llyn
Llyn
9 months ago
Reply to  Glen

As opposed to Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

Uh huh, agreed. Now, imagine what Glen asked you too. This ‘Westminster baaahhhd’ refrain makes our cause seem petty and without ideas. Yes, nobody here is a tory. Yes, we don’t want rule from Westminster. What are we going to do about our untalented, sleazy, dumbfoundingly myopic political class here when asked the same thing Glen asks in real life? Is that your answer on the doorstep? Engaging in argument nullification only works if you favour the status quo or hold power in government – project fear won. The SNP lost because of what you’re doing here plus the fact… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by CJPh
Isabel Jones
Isabel Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Perhaps nobody here is a natural Tory but there will be many voters here in Wales who, sickened by the power-crazy clique who’ve been in charge in Cardiff far too long, vote Tory as a protest vote. I’m likely to be among them.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago
Reply to  Isabel Jones

To be honest, I don’t blame you Isabel. I would, however, suggest that Wales gaining further autonomy aids in holding politicians to their oaths of office and policy promises as well as affording us a much greater ability to directly contribute to a change where required. Part of the issue we see in the ever-rolling political gravy train is that it is tied to the much bigger Westminster train. If Plaid, Labour etc cannot be trusted to represent your preferences or listen to your concerns, I would be wary of placing any trust in the tories. I am more conservative… Read more »

Glen
Glen
9 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

and what happened to Boris and Truss?

Daf
Daf
9 months ago

I’m no fan of the Tories, but Drakeford has totally lost the plot here. He starts talking about ‘attacks on black people’ and ‘attacks on asylum seekers’ when Laura Ann Jones said absolutely nothing at all about those groups of people. She asked a question about women and trans rights. Yes, calling her ‘shrill’ makes him sound like a tetchy old sexist – but trying to make out Laura Jones had said something racist and anti-asylum seeker is just plain old lying. Ironic when he was the one trying to accuse her of ‘dogwhistling’. It looks to me like he… Read more »

Paula Williams
Paula Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Daf

Drakeford needs to be very careful about prioritising Trans “women” over real women

The recent Starbucks incident yet again shows that these individuals do come across as quite unwell, if not certifiable.

Their hysterical aggression towards women does not sit well with the socially conservative Welsh population.

E Hunt
E Hunt
9 months ago

Using the term ‘shrill’ when responding to a female politician’s reasonable question is indeed sexist. I can’t see him using such terminology if a male had asked the question. Disgraceful!

KPA
KPA
9 months ago

Drakeford gets increasingly aggressive in his dismissals of women’s concerns on gender self-ID. If he’s so sure that safety and fairness for women and girls isn’t under threat, then why not just answer the questions civilly? It’s almost like he has no arguments. Notable that he’s also refused to meet women’s groups to discuss this. What’s he hiding?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
9 months ago

Poor even by MD standards, for goodness sake, the referencing to the conservatives council seat losses in England are of no consequence or relevance to the siambr and shows that MD is deflecting from legitimate debate on Welsh labour’s policies, in so much that the issue raised is contentous for both sides of the debate, the debate and the questions must be asked, it is more apparent that MD is no longer fit to serve as First Minister, and he should now step down , the people of Wales deserve better than the increasing displays of arrogrance from MD.

Erisian
Erisian
9 months ago

Dog whistles are by their nature, shrill. No case to answer

Rob Pountney
Rob Pountney
9 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Spot on…

Another Richard
Another Richard
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob Pountney

No they’re not. The whole point of a dog whistle is that it is inaudible to all but those intended to hear it.

Isabel Jones
Isabel Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Do you know what ‘dog whistle’ means in current political discourse? If not, this definition may be useful:
‘A surreptitious inclusion of code words or phrases that will be heard by some of those listening, while not disturbing the other listeners, who may not appreciate the hidden message(s).’

Drakeford’s dog-whistle words include the word ‘shrill’.

Isabel Jones
Isabel Jones
9 months ago

I was horrified to see Hannah Blythn behaving like a rude teenager in response to Laura Anne Jones earlier this year and now the First Minister has confirmed that Welsh Labour have adopted a policy of insulting those who are concerned about women’s rights — presumably because there is nothing they can say to defend their adoption of the new religion of gender ideology. There is clearly a conflict of interests between biological women and the men who identify as, but can never be, women. I can’t possibly be the only Labour voter with serious concerns over this. We were… Read more »

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