It’s been another not-exactly-great week for the Westminster village. Not least because of the light that’s been shone on the sleazy world of sexual harassment in the environs of the Mother of Parliaments in the wake of the Nigel Evans trial.
As other commentators have said, this is as much about power as about sex – the men who do this sort of thing (and they do seem to be men) do it because they can and because they know they can get away with it. They can get away with it because they can ruin the career of any researcher, PA or intern who blows the whistle.
Now here’s the problem. The victims are staying silent because they don’t want to risk ruining their prospects of a career in politics. This means that, eventually, they hope to become MPs and who’s to say that they aren’t motivated in their ambition by the genuine desire to make the world a better, fairer and juster place?
It would be nice to think that at least some of these aspiring game changers could find the courage to speak out against politicians who think it’s OK to exploit and abuse people who are less powerful than themselves.
It would be nice to think that people who are prepared to witness or suffer sexual harassment in silence rather than risk their careers might just pause to ask themselves what that says about their likelihood of becoming parliamentarians of integrity who will speak up on behalf the poor, the powerless and the victims.