Strathaven Echoes Column 6th November 2017


The allegations of sexual harassment in both The Scottish Parliament and The House of Commons that have been developing over the past week have been particularly difficult for us all to hear.  Resignations have been handed in by senior politicians.  But is that enough?


A zero tolerance approach appears badly needed across all parties.  This can however, never be monitored by those in politics who previously ‘turned a blind eye’.  The independence of reporting and investigatory mechanisms appears vital to properly support complainants.


Sexual harassment occurs because of issues of power and control.  Perpetuating the belief that males cannot be victims is therefore wrong.  It fosters a culture in which males may feel silenced and find it even more difficult to come forward. It is therefore important to use inclusive language and to ensure we support anyone affected to come forward.


Westminster is now asking itself “how has this happened”?  Akin to the film industry, politics has historically been viewed as a ‘select club’ where those in positions of power may be protected by the system.  Reporting sexual harassment is extremely difficult due to the power imbalance, fear of reprisals, and possibility of victimisation.   Whole sale culture change is therefore vital at Westminster to ensure complainants are supported not alienated, heard not ignored and enabled never victimised.


Speaker John Bercow has now referred all issues of sexual harassment in Westminster to the Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion. I have been a member of this committee since July 2017, and I am determined to ensure a confidential and safe reporting environment for complainers going forward.


Across our constituency, I will be undertaking my rural surgery on 8th December 2017 in Drumclog 10am, Sandford 1130am, Glassford 1pm, Chapelton 230pm, and Auldhouse 4pm.  Please don’t hesitate to email me for venues and to confirm your attendance.


I know that rural broadband continues to be a significant issue locally and I therefore have a petition going to parliament next week calling for faster broadband speeds and increased connectivity.  If you want to add your details to the petition please just drop into the office in Waterside Street and let us know.


Finally, I continue to work hard on issues of local fly tipping and rubbish dumping and have been in contact with the council to ensure a variety of local uplifts of rubbish reported to me.  Strathaven is beautiful and it is very important that we do all we can to preserve our high standards for visitors and locals alike.


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