OPINION - Evening Standard Comment: Rife misogyny is still poisoning our politics

·3-min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament is clear. In addition to adherence to financial probity and working in the public interest, MPs should treat colleagues and staff with “dignity, courtesy and respect”.

Watching pornography on your phone — in the Commons chamber — falls short on several fronts, managing to combine unacceptable sexist behaviour with a stunning disregard for the public. Yet this cannot be dismissed as a lapse in judgement by an individual. We are long past the “one bad apple” defence. This latest accusation speaks to the broader culture in Westminster.

It comes amid reports that 56 MPs, including Cabinet ministers, currently face allegations of sexual misconduct and have been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme. But this is not a party political issue. A female Labour MP has accused a member of the shadow cabinet of making sexist comments toward her.

From the so-called “Pestminster” scandals that ripped through Parliament in 2017 — and led to the establishment of the ICGS — to the recent anonymous comments about deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, sexist and misogynistic bad behaviour still pervades our politics.

Ultimately, everyone is entitled to respect and dignity in the workplace. Parliament is no different. Unless and until our leaders prioritise probity over political expediency, these episodes will reoccur, women will be put off from entering politics and our democracy will suffer.

Tax raid on the capital

A new flank in the cost of living crisis is opening up, as about 750,000 people living in London and the South-East are set to be dragged into paying the higher rate of income tax over the next four years.

This is a result of Rishi Sunak’s decision to freeze tax thresholds, meaning that people who receive even a sub-inflation pay rise may get dragged into the highest tax bracket. But the Chancellor’s stealth tax is not only affecting high earners. Some 630,000 people in the capital and South-East will be drawn into paying the 20p basic rate.

The cost of living is already the highest in our city. From rents to energy bills, Londoners are working out how they can afford the basics, let alone the occasional night out. This tax raid is the last thing they need. It is only the latest example of the Government’s disregard for Londoners and their broader disinterest in our city’s recovery.

Save veteran’s trip

The crisis in the Passport Office, imperilling the plans of holidaymakers across the country, now threatens to prevent a Second World War veteran from attending the commemoration of the liberation of the Netherlands.

Peter Smoothy, 97, who served in the Royal Navy and landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, says his old document was received by the Passport Office on April 1 but has yet to be processed.

Mr Smoothy told the Standard: “This is a big celebration of Liberation in Holland and they make a terrific fuss of us so it’s a trip we love to go on.”

There is still time to make this happen if he can get his new passport urgently. Let’s get this done.

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