Tracy Brabin: There’s more going on in Parliament than my shoulder
Labour MP Tracy Brabin has responded to the “absurd” criticism she received after wearing an off-the-shoulder dress in the Commons.
The shadow culture secretary said the reaction to her outfit – which had slipped off her shoulder when she leaned on the despatch box due to her broken ankle – was a case of “everyday sexism”.
On Tuesday, Ms Brabin had replied to a Twitter user after they shared a photograph of her wearing the outfit and asked: “Is this really appropriate attire for parliament?”
She had tweeted: “Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not… A slag, Hungover, A tart, About to breastfeed, A slapper, Drunk, Just been banged over a wheelie bin.
“Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder…”
On Wednesday, the Batley and Spen MP told ITV’s Lorraine: “It is quite extraordinary. There is a really important question to the Government about transparency and civil servants potentially breaking their code of integrity, and all people are talking about is the shoulder. So, I thought it was important I pushed back against that.
“Also, it’s a privilege I have that I have the confidence to brush it off, given my role, and I thought it was really important I replied because lots of women around the country, around the world, don’t have that opportunity to push back against those people that patronise them.
“Basically, it’s everyday sexism. I’ve been trying to call it out, that there’s more going on in Parliament than my shoulder.”
Ms Brabin added that “it does feel it’s always a good way to demean women who are in positions of power – just talk about what they are wearing and how they look…
“There’s loads to discuss and I know if it was my predecessor, Tom Watson, nobody would be talking about the colour of his tie.”
She said she had been at a UK Music event before going to the Commons.
“The thing about the points of order, they come at you as a surprise, so you’re not always camera-ready when you are in politics.”
She said the top of her outfit “did slip slightly, because I have broken ankle and I had to lean a little bit on the despatch box.
“To be honest, it’s a huge distraction from what I’m saying and what’s important about transparency and political standards working with the press.”
Ms Brabin said the criticism over her outfit will not make her think twice about what she wears in future.
“Every day you go to work there are cameras in the chamber 24/7. I always show the House respect; if there was a problem I’m sure Mr Speaker would tell me,” she said.
“I absolutely don’t know quite where it came from and I do think it’s slightly absurd. You know, we are talking about shoulders, in the scheme of things, when there’s so much to discuss it does feel a little silly.”
Former Strictly Come Dancing star Stacey Dooley was among those supporting Ms Brabin on Twitter, writing: “People can’t be serious?
“There’s issues re institutional racism, crisis re food bank numbers, an underfunded NHS, homelessness and people are pissed she’s got her shoulder out?
“I give up trying to understand people.”