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 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 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’m determined to ensure a confidential and safe reporting environment for complainants going forward.
On Monday the government published the list of sectors that could potentially be impacted by Brexit. However they did not publish any of the 58 documents that accompanied that list, which focus on different sectors of the economy. The House has since voted in favour of these documents being released in order to ensure transparency and that the best deal is being achieved for different sectors. I anticipate the response from Government and will continue to push for the best possible deal for our constituency.
Last week, I spoke out once again in a debate about HMRC. I highlighted the devastating effect that UK Government plans to close our Centre One would have upon the town; its economy, jobs and livelihoods and our intrinsic identity. Everything possible must continue to be done to protect our workers at HMRC. Please show your support for the Stay in EK Campaign and ensure we continue to fight these misguided proposals every step of the way.
Parliament Week: Across our constituency this week, I was pleased to visit the 2nd EK Boys Brigade to speak about the importance of democracy and Parliament week. The questions asked were very topical indeed, including “are you related to David Cameron” and “is Donald Trump Insane”? Should any schools or organisations be keen to visit Westminster or to link with its education centre for parliament week, please do not hesitate to contact me for support.