Christine Jardine: Politicians must live up to their ‘honorable’ titles

Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary
Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary
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The title ‘honorable’ may sound antiquated but it is what we should be, says MP Christine Jardine

Frustration was my initial reaction. Frustration at the re-emergence of ugly, degrading behaviour that should have been consigned to the past.

Then outrage at the attitude of so many that inappropriate behaviour was excusable because it was “a different time”. And finally the hope that, perhaps this time, a scandal at Westminster may be the lightening rod for a cultural change in attitudes.

But a lot has to happen first.

Certainly I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of an independent body to tackle the issue. It is, however, only one piece of the jigsaw.

If political parties, and individual MPs, are allowed to use it as some kind of free pass from taking responsibility, it will have failed before it has even started. My own party has one, spelt out on our website. We take any complaints extremely seriously.

I come from an industry – the media – where at least 20 years ago we were tackling the same sort of offensive attitudes. I heard many of the same arguments then. Prominent among them was usually: “What’s the fuss?”

Well the fuss is quite simply that if any man, or women, is using their position of power to make another individual feel uncomfortable or belittled in any way that is harassment.

The title ”honourable” may sound antiquated but it is what we should be.

Perhaps if we can live up to it we may win back some of the respect which has been lost recently, and set an example for others.

Christine Jardine is the Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West