Scottish Tories feel the heat as Dugdale and Thewliss demand rape clause answers

Nathanael Williams

Davidson faces the music over her silence to the UK party’s rape clause

RUTH DAVIDSON, the Scottish Tory leader, has maintained her silence in the face of increasing demand by opposition politicians and rights campaigners to explain her position and reasoning for supporting the controversial rape clause brought into effect by her UK party.

The clause, part of welfare reforms, requires women to reveal if a third or subsequent child was a result of rape to receive child tax credits and has been branded as “barbaric” “insensitive” and “cruel” by campaigning charities such as Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA), Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) and Engender.

Both the Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Alison Thewliss the SNP’s MP for Glasgow Central urged Davidson to end her silence on the Tory government’s ‘rape clause’.

Their calls come as 48 psychologists wrote a letter in the Guardian to the UK Government explicitly stating that the policy which forces women to choose between reliving trauma and being economically punished would see “devastation to mental health.”

In her Daily Record column, Kezia Dugdale wrote: “Alison Thewliss has led a powerful campaign against the heartless Tory government on this crucial issue, and has secured cross-party support. I have nothing but praise for her tireless campaigning, and she has and will continue to receive the support of Labour MSPs and MPs in the hope of forcing the Tories into a U-turn.

“For Ruth Davidson has been silent on this issue. So today I make a direct plea to her: stand up for rape victims and tell Theresa May she is wrong.

“You normally have the sharpest elbows when it comes to getting noticed, so don’t remain silent when it comes to standing up to your own party.”

The criticism has also come at a point where the Scottish Conservative leader seems to have taken a dive in popularity north of the border. According to the latest poll by Lord Ashcroft from a sub-sample of 900 people, the Scottish Tory leader finds herself 12 points behind Nicola Sturgeon at 40 per cent approval.

Glasgow protest called against Tory rape clause and anti-family policies

Her party has maintained its position that the policy has been handled in a most “sensitive” manner. This mirrors the UK Government which claims that, due to its desire to have health professionals and women’s charities act as third parties for women forced to reveal their previous trauma, the policy has the right safeguards of care for women.

Alison Thewliss who has campaigned for the clause to be dropped said on her social media account: “I’ve had great cross-party support on #rapeclause from @scottishlabour @scotgp @scotlibdems – nothing from @ScotTories @RuthDavidsonMSP.”

This Thursday (13 April) will see protests aimed at the UK Government and Ruth Davidson’s party in Glasgow’s George Square at 6pm.

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.