Gina Davidson: Politics need a woman’s touch

Kainde Manji, Elaine C Smith, Amanda Harvie and Jeane Freeman were the Newsnight panel. Picture: BBC

Kainde Manji, Elaine C Smith, Amanda Harvie and Jeane Freeman were the Newsnight panel. Picture: BBC

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THE independence debate is a strange one in which to divide along gender.

Yet that’s what BBC Newsnight Scotland did earlier in the week, handing over the whole programme to an all-female panel and audience to debate whether or not Scotland should stay part of the UK and what might be the best option for women.

Yet in listening to the questions put to those from the Yes and Better Together campaigns it struck me that they were just discussing the same issues that affect everyone: the unknown unknowns, as George W Bush would call them, which would result from the break up of the 300-year-old union.

While the debate was very civilised, as usual there was nothing concrete at the end – no real reasons why women should either vote yes or no. No real hook to hang a bra strap on and declare that women’s lives will be be better in an independent Scotland because, ultimately, it’s all about the economy, stupid and that doesn’t care what chromosomes you were born with.

It takes a lot for a woman to leave any marriage – just ask Nigella Lawson – but for Scotland’s women to contemplate breaking away from heir sisters south of the Border is a huge ask. Which is why most polls indicate that women are more likely to vote no, or are still undecided, at this stage.

The story goes that women are more cautious when it comes to politics, and the story is right. Women are more cautious because politics is all about men.

What the Newsnight Scotland programme should perhaps have really got stuck into was not whether there will be better childcare in an independent Scotland (what dad is remotely interested in that, after all?) but what women can expect from a Scottish Parliament in terms of their representation – and therefore what legislation they could expect to be brought forward which could protect them from low-paid, part-time work, protect them from being first out the door when the economy tanks, protect them from still being paid less than their male couterparts for doing the same job.

Then there are the issues of domestic violence. Statistics show that half of all female murder victims in Scotland die at the hands of their partner or former partner. What would an independent Scotland do about that? What would it do about ensuring that young boys are taught from an early age not to objectify women? Would it put lads mags on the top shelves in newsagents? Just how would it try and make sure that women really would be equal in Scotland?

While the devolved Scottish Parliament does better than Westminster in having female politicians it cannot be smug. In the 2011 elections less than 30 per cent of the candidates standing were women.

At the moment only 45 MSPs are female – when the Parliament started in 1999 there were 48, rising to a giddy 51 in 2003. But of course nowhere near the 64 which would mean near equal proportions of men and women. Then the women who dare put their heads above the parapet and take on the leadership roles of parties are never taken as seriously as their male counterparts.

Nicola Sturgeon is perhaps the only MSP who’s supposed to have breasts who is regarded with any real authority.

Ruth Davidson is easily written off as an upstart – and dear god a lesbian who once enjoyed kickboxing – what about then nudge, nudge?

Johann Lamont regularly portrayed as the heid of the steamie, despite the fact that she is now regularly scoring points at FMQs from Alex Salmond.

More women are needed in politics to ensure women’s lives are made better. Independence might encourage that or it might not. The Newsnight Scotland debate missed even asking that question.

Ugly side of the Beautiful Game comes to town

IT seems that success – however relative – in Scottish football comes with a heavy price. Or at least it does if you have people running a club who care little for it except its use as a cash commodity.

What’s happening at Hearts – or happened at Rangers – is a blight on the national game, and many, many more questions need to be asked of those who seek to own football clubs in Scotland before they get their backsides on a seat in the director’s box.

Right now though it looks as though Hearts will have to move from their historic Tynecastle home as creditor Ukio Bankas cashes its major chip – its security on the ground.

But a new ground is preferable to no team, and no future at all.

Vote is all the fuss about?

THE Liberton/Gilmerton by-election is being held today but unless there’s a shock result and a Green or UKIP candidate wins, the outcome feels rather... so what?

The brief flap about the SNP leaflet declaring the election was to find another Nationalist to replace Tom Buchanan, pictured below, rather than a new councillor from any party was midly diverting. But ultimately the likely result will have no effect on the coalition which runs Edinburgh City Council, which will rumble along as it does until the next full election.

Who says there’s no such thing as a wasted vote?