SLEAZE in Westminster is nothing new. “Sex scandal“, “bullying scandal”, “sexism”, “harassment”, “misogyny” are all fairly common words to see in headlines about the place. The number of these scandals has steadily increased throughout my life. People have known for a long time that this place is a cesspool, but when people ask me about Parliament, I have to tell them the truth: things are getting worse.
Toxic masculinity has been reinforced from already appalling levels, but even I didn’t expect to read that an MP was caught watching porn on his phone while sitting in the chamber of the House of Commons. It would be bad enough to be caught doing this in your private office, but in the bedroom itself? It’s disgusting.
Once the complaints were made public, there was the usual whirlwind of whispers and questions about who the culprit was. But I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of mind someone has to be in to think that watching porn while sitting on the pews you were voted for is okay. The only answer I can find is right. Pure and powerful right.
It’s a symptom of a workplace that isn’t designed to be a workplace, but rather a private club that allows bored rich boys from public schools to preserve their egos and play their games of able. A Tory MP has described the admission of MPs in 2019 as treating the last two and a half years like a long Freshers week. Seems fair to me. And, look, I get it. When I was first elected I spent my fair share of time in pubs there. You are not allowed to leave the building in case there are votes, it is not uncommon to be seated until the early hours of the morning vote, you are nowhere near your family d friends – so I understand why people might kill time in one of the very many bars on the parliamentary grounds.
READ MORE: Who is Neil Parish? Tory revealed as MP who ‘watched porn in the House of Commons’
It’s a sink or swim culture, except the ocean is made of bevvy. It’s one thing to watch your co-workers get drunk and mischievous at the annual work Christmas party and another thing to watch people do it night after night for years.
So what are the effects of a corporate culture that resembles an endless Freshers Week? Well, this week we discovered that 56 MPs were apparently under investigation for sexual misconduct. It is shadow cabinet members who are inappropriate with backbenchers. These are scary articles about normalizing the legs of female politicians. And yes, one effect is that an MP decides it’s okay to watch pornography in the bedroom, sitting with colleagues, surrounded by microphones and cameras and a public gallery.
When we consider these revelations alongside the culture and tone of this government, things start to make horrible sense. If the Prime Minister can get away with breaking the law to shut down Parliament, breaking the law to attend illegal parties at the height of a global pandemic, telling outright lies about it, getting caught and yet not face no meaningful accountability for anything – why would anyone else expect accountability?
I have already mentioned that this government is very much like the Trump administration in that it is creating so many fires that it is overwhelming. It’s to the point that no one knows which fire to attack first.
READ MORE: Tory Neil Parish to continue ‘duty’ as MP despite ‘watching porn in Commons’
This week was yet another example of that in action. While everyone is rightly horrified by these pornographic revelations, the government has pushed through some of the cruelest and most dangerous laws I have ever seen – the Policing Bill, the Crime Bill, the Penalties and the Courts and the Nationality and Borders Bill. These bills restrict people’s right to protest and lay the legal groundwork for the horrific, ruthless and cruel plan to ship asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. It happened and you probably haven’t heard much about it because it suits the government.
After 10 years of Tory governments doing everything they can and made worse by Brexit and the Tory cost of living crisis, people are too busy trying to survive to keep tabs on what needs to be switch.
The place is filled with sleaze. It’s rife with misogyny. It is plagued by corruption. This will never change. There have been so many scandals and so many times MPs have been brought before the press cameras to say things have to change, but it never will. It’s built into the system.