OPINION - Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy: Our democracy is not something to jerk off to

·2-min read
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham (PA)
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham (PA)

We’re facing the worst cost of living crisis in living memory and the government benches have reduced us to talking about parties and porn.

Now it's absolutely right to discuss these issues and hold those at fault accountable for breaking any laws or rules. But because their privilege and processes appear to mean they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions, we are stuck in a groundhog day of revelations without repercussions.

And now this. Yet more damning evidence that the sickening misogyny that pervades our society comes from the very top.

MPs aren’t even supposed to wear casual clothes in Parliament. Each whips’ office keeps a selection of ties to ensure no male member enters the Chamber without one. The brazenness of casually watching porn on a phone in the small and often packed parliamentary chamber shows the level of privilege we are dealing with. It was so easy to get caught. But this man did not even care.

The offending MP has form, having allegedly also been caught watching porn during a select committee, getting his rocks off whilst listening to crucial testimony about the real difficulties people face every day. It’s unconscionable.

All the public continue to see is that it is one rule for certain MPs and another rule for them.

It's unsurprising that people are calling for the regulation of workplace practices for MPs. In any other workplace, this would be grounds for immediate dismissal. But cue the various parliamentary processes which, with every scandal, look more and more designed to abate allegations rather than act on them.

It’s fundamentally wrong that MPs are not held to the same standards as the people we represent. But there have been so many examples of this in recent years it is beyond a joke.

The worst thing is this doesn't seem to be a recent incident; just one that’s conveniently resurfaced with the Prime Minister in hot water again. But as the scalding water rolls off his Teflon back, this situation just gives the public every reason not to respect the political class. Particularly as over 50 MPs now face accusations of sexual misconduct.

We must do better. The public relies on us to make decisions to better their lives. Our democracy is not something to jerk off to.

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