Neil Parish has resigned, but the conversation about sexism in Westminster can't end here

Neil Parish has resigned in disgrace, but this scandal isn’t just about him.

The Tory MP who watched pornography in the Commons and at a committee meeting has finally gone, but not before coming up with excuses that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Mr Parish explained actually he’d been looking at tractors, and then the smutty site he ended up on had a similar name so he looked accidentally.

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A simple and perfectly believable excuse, one somehow made even worse by his friends, who told newspapers he’d been looking for the “Dominator” tractor.

Conservative MP Neil Parish. Picture : BBC Politics South West/PA Wire
Conservative MP Neil Parish. Picture : BBC Politics South West/PA Wire
Conservative MP Neil Parish. Picture : BBC Politics South West/PA Wire

The second time he admitted watching deliberately, something his wife seemed to blame on those performing in whatever he was watching.

It’s a grim spectacle, compounded by his total lack of shame over proceedings.

Mr Parish went on television to discuss the issue before anyone knew it was him, and then did a cosy sit-down interview where he said a weight had been lifted.

That he felt comfortable to do so speaks volumes over not just a lack of contrition, but the reaction he expected from colleagues.

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Now it is painfully obvious what he did was wrong and he had to go immediately, but that was not the initial response of the Tory party.

The party instead tried to refer the matter to the independent body, meaning the process could have taken months, if not years.

His name is now public and he’s been ousted, but the first instincts of the whips were to defer responsibility, not make Parliament better.

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And Parliament does need to be better. Working in Westminster is hearing one horror story after another, warning friends or new contacts about certain people they should avoid.

Yesterday saw a Government minister dismiss the problem as a few “bad apples” rather than widespread misogyny, but I’m not so sure.

Three Cabinet ministers are among 56 MPs reportedly facing allegations of sexual misconduct that have been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

Those are just the ones reported. I know of at least five people who have had bad experiences, but not felt the system would support them.

Westminster has a real problem and pretending otherwise is beneath anyone who wishes to work within it.



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