It seems there is no end to the sex abuse scandal rolling out of Parliament day after day. MPs, assistants & researchers have all shared their stories after if first emerged that a WhatsApp group chat was being used as a safe place for these women to talk about their abuse.
Some have admitted their wrong doing, including International Trade Minister, Mark Garnier, who asked his secretary to order him sex toys, and called her ‘sugar tits’. Investigations into other claims of abuse and even rape are ongoing, with a spreadsheet of offences and names circulating.
Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, publicly said that a ‘warped and degrading culture’ was thriving in Westminster, and that the guilty must be held accountable.
This comes after similar scandals have been seen in the move industry, and Hollywood. A similar culture seems to have flourished in industries where there is a certain amount of power involved, and this needs to change.
Local Tory MP, Alex Chalk, has spoken out about everything going on in Westminster, calling the allegations “troubling”. However, he worries that the really serious allegations are being mixed with those that are perhaps classed as inappropriate, but not something that could be prosecuted. He says this might make people take the criminal abuse less seriously.
“On the spreadsheet is two people, unattached adults, who’ve had a relationship with each other; well, what’s the problem with that?” says Chalk. “The problem with all this is that because it’s all been conflated into one thing, there are some people going ‘oh it’s a load of old nonsense’; that’s wrong.”
The question Parliament has been faced with is; what is going to change?
Prime Minister Theresa May, called all party leaders to an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis, and how they were going to deal with allegations effectively.
Chalk thinks that a probable solution would be to create a separate body, almost like a human resources department, where victims can safely and confidently report any abuse. He says that Parliament needs a “credible tribunal which can lead to credible outcomes’.
Some have asked if this culture could possibly cause a dip in young women and men entering a career in politics, in fear of being harassed themselves, or just because they’re disgusted by the scandal.
When asked about the impact on younger political hopefuls, Chalk said “I really hope that won’t happen for women. I hope they can take some comfort from seeing we have a female Prime Minister.”
“Although MPs are very prominent, I think some of the cultural things we need to change are cultural things across society….The allegations are arising from different sections of our society.”
“Young, talented women should not feel put off going into Parliament. A: because it’s not particularly worse, and B: things are going to be beefed up so that protections will be much improved.”
Chalk hopes the reputation of Parliament is going to improve, as he says it’s taking a “kicking” at the moment.
Only time will tell if the government do, indeed, live up to their promises.