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Friday, December 14, 2018

Desperate times, desperate measures

Possibly the most shocking outcome of the Theresa May no confidence vote was the reinstatement of the whip to two Conservative MPs accused of sexual misconduct. Although this act of arbitrary forgiveness was entirely predictable in the circumstances, that does not make it any more excusable nor does it help the Tories in their wooing of voters in the #MeToo era.

Personally, I agree entirely with Jess Phillips who, as the Guardian reports, raised the matter in Parliament yesterday. She questioned why the Conservative party told Andrew Griffiths and Charlie Elphicke they were allowed to participate in the vote of no confidence in the prime minister and accused Theresa May of putting political power ahead of “protecting victims of sexual abuse”.

The whip had been withdrawn from Griffiths, the MP for Burton, in July after he sent thousands of sexually explicit messages to two female constituents. Elphicke was suspended by the Tories 13 months ago after “serious allegations” made against him were referred to the police. He has always denied any wrongdoing:

At Commons’ business questions, Phillips read out some of the messages that Griffiths, May’s former chief of staff, had sent to his constituents. “She’s so cute, so sweet, I can’t wait to beat her. Can she take a beating?” one read. “Not my words,” Phillips said, “but the words of the MP for Burton, as he was barraging two of his female constituents with thousands of sexual text messages.

“Last night Mrs Leadsom’s party gave him and the MP for Dover [Elphicke] the whip back without any due process. What message does this send about how any process here in this place can ever be trusted?” she said.

Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley, continued: “Can she answer that question, and also answer me to what matters more; political power or protecting victims of sexual harassment and abuse?”

Leadsom replied saying she was “absolutely committed to changing the culture of this place and to seeing that everybody here is treated with dignity and respect”.

“There has been a process that has been undertaken; it has been a decision by the chief whip, it’s not something that I have been privy to.” The shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh, raised the issue later in the session. “I’m afraid Mrs Leadsom’s party yesterday lost any ounce of credibility in leading the investigation into sexual harassment and bullying in this place when they restored the whips to Mr Griffiths and Mr Elphicke,” she said.

“And I’m afraid it is thoroughly implausible that it just so happened that their investigations concluded yesterday.”

The Tories have demonstrated where their priorities lie and it s not with the victims, alleged or otherwise.
The Tories are only interested in power and how to hold on to it and will use all means to keep it.
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