Shipley MP Philip Davies defends calling 16-year-old girl intolerant virtue signaller on email

Shipley MP Philip Davies has defended calling a 16-year-old constituent 'intolerant' and 'virtue signalling' on email

Saturday, 24th October 2020, 10:17 am
Updated Saturday, 24th October 2020, 10:20 am
Philip Davies has defended the email he sent to a 16-year-old girl

The West Yorkshire MP has come under fire on social media after an email he sent to a constituent went viral.

The constituent - a 16-year-old girl - had apparently emailed the MP to ask about his decision to vote against free school meals for children over the school holidays.

The vote, held on Thursday, saw the Labour proposal for free school meals to be extended over the Christmas holidays rejected by MPs, despite a national campaign by England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.

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Davies was one of several Conservative MPs in Yorkshire to vote against the proposals.

He then told the girl in an email reply: "Thank you for your email, even though you show how intolerant you are to anyone who holds a different opinion to you.

"I appreciate that virtue signalling is in vogue, but I am afraid that I take the rather old fashioned view that parents should be primarily responsible for feeding their children rather than the state.

"That never used to be a contentious view - even when Labour were in government and they refused to do this - and I am very sad that it has become so.

"I am afraid that I cannot support such a state power grab from the principle of parental responsibility. If we are not even going to ask parents to be responsible for feeding their children then I wonder what we would ask them to be responsible for.

"Best wishes. Philip."

After the email went viral on social media, with hundreds of people criticising the MP for the language he used in his response to the girl, the Yorkshire Evening Post contacted the MP.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Yes I sent the email. I am sure she will be happy to send you the full correspondence between us - or does the paper just want to take one email in isolation?

"I also had no idea she was 16 - how was I supposed to know that?

"Best wishss [sic], Philip."

Another constituent, Joanne Ferguson, got in touch with the Yorkshire Evening Post to raise an email she received from the MP in which he set out the reasons he voted against the motion.

In it, Mr Davies said to Ms Ferguson: "Thank you for your email, although I am afraid the contents of it are utter rubbish.

"Nobody blamed parents, nobody voted to leave children hungry and I couldn’t care less whose motion it was, I voted against it because I didn’t agree with it. I have voted for Labour motions in the past so that is palpable nonsense.

"I take the view that parents should be primarily responsible for feeding their children rather than schools or the state.

"That never used to be a contentious view - including when Labour refused to do this after the financial crash when they were in government - and I am very sad that it has become so.

"The motion was not seeking this support for children as an absolute last resort in the most exceptional circumstances - which I would be happy to support - but wanted this to happen as a matter of course for huge numbers.

"The government have already increased the welfare budget by £9bn in order to help families most in need.

"I absolutely don’t have a problem with giving further help to people as a last resort in exceptional circumstances. But I can’t support the state being the first port of call for providing food for children - that should always be the parents."