Question Time: Lib Dem Ed Davey slams appalling misogynistic culture in Westminster

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As the Lib Dem spoke on BBC’s Question Time, he took down Boris Johnson as he declared that the Prime Minister’s lack of morality means he is failing to come down hard on these issues of sexism. Audience members in Romford grilled the panel, with many addressing the recent scandals of the Government including Partygate, the comments about Angela Rayner, and the Tory porn scandal.

This week it was reported that the Conservative Party Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris has ordered an investigation into claims that a Tory MP watched adult footage on his phone while in the chamber.

These allegations come after Deputy Leader of the Labour party Angela Rayner was accused by Tory MPs of flashing her legs to distract Boris Johnson, according to the Mail on Sunday.

An unconfirmed report in the Sunday Times has also claimed that 56 MPs are being investigated for sexual misconduct, including three cabinet ministers and two Labour front benchers.

Many audience members addressed the lack of focus on women’s issues in general including the HRT crisis.

One member said: “Do you not think though that these isolated incidents just speak to an attitude of misogyny that perhaps then is in Westminster but then feeds down to the whole of society?

“For example, there is a massive HRT crisis, if there were more women in Parliament would that be happening?

Or on the other side, if men were affected by the menopause would this be happening?

Issues which affect women, yes, you’re saying perhaps they’re not picked up in the media but beyond that are they actually picked up in Parliament in the way they really deserve to be?”

Ed Davey said the recent news was “shocking and unacceptable”.

He added: “The misogyny and sexism we see in our politics and frankly in our wider society is unacceptable and if we’re going to get rid of it we need our leaders to lead and show that it’s unacceptable.”

Another member of the audience added that the recent claims of misogyny and the other scandals show “a loss of moral and standards in Parliament in general”.

Mr Davey added: “I worry about the need to get more women into our politics because they see people like Angela Rayner being treated as she was, that’s not going to encourage girls and women to come into politics and then they’re reading about this appalling behaviour with this Tory MP watching porn in the Chamber of the House of Commons.”

According to Mumsnet research, 44 percent of women do not enter politics due to a fear of misogyny in the “macho culture” of Westminster.

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Question Time host Fiona Bruce noted that “this [misogynistic culture] is not something that is confined to the Conservative party”.

The Liberal Democrat leader replied: “Over the years I’ve been in Parliament it has been cross-party, and we need to grapple with it.

“I do think Boris Johnson set a culture in his party where it’s alright to break the rules and unacceptable behaviour is okay and a fish rots at the head.”

He concluded: “We do need leadership on this and if he was in a stronger moral position, if he had more integrity, I think he would be able to find the leadership, I don’t think he can.”

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