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Tory squabbles over call to find female candidate to replace Porn Shame MP

A government minister has dismissed calls for an all-female shortlist to find a replacement disgraced Tory MP Neil Parish.

University Minister Michelle Donelan said that shortlists for female-only parliamentary candidates were “degrading” for women.

Boris Johnson is facing calls from within his own party to ensure a woman is chosen to fight the East Devon seat of Tiverton and Honiton by-elections, which were sparked by Parish’s resignation after she failed at the had been caught watching pornography in the House of Commons.

Tory MP Caroline Nokewho chairs the House of Commons Women’s and Equality Committee, said the party needed to pick a female candidate to show “real evidence of change”.

But Ms Donelan said she did not support it all-female shortlistsand argued that it would be better to encourage female candidates to come to Parliament “on the basis of their merits”.

“We don’t do it by setting quotas, which I find pretty demeaning for women. Women can achieve it because of their merits,” she told Sky News.

“We’ve seen that in my own party in the past – the first two female prime ministers, when Labor didn’t even come close.

“We have the Home Secretary, who is a woman, we have the Foreign Secretary, who is a woman: these people did it on merit.”

Ms Donelan said she had not experienced any harassment in Parliament and insisted reports of misconduct were limited to a small minority of “misogynistic dinosaurs”.

“It’s not the majority of MPs, it’s a minority,” she said. “Those are misogynistic dinosaurs. They do not represent the majority of MEPs.”

Labor front bencher Fleur Anderson agreed that sexist misconduct in the House of Commons was limited to a “minority” of male MPs and said she hadn’t seen it very often.

But she told Sky News: “A minority is too many. A minority can make the entire workplace feel unsafe. Even one place in the workplace that you don’t think you can trust or that is inappropriate is too many in the workplace.

“To hear that there are currently 56 allegations of sexism, bullying and harassment being investigated is kind of a workplace I don’t really want to be a part of. It’s very worrying for me.

“We should set the highest standards for the country. And more importantly, we are the ones making the decisions about the rules for the whole country. I joined politics so that politics can be a force for good – against sexism, against discrimination. It is very, very worrying to find that it is in Parliament and it is still not being addressed quickly enough.

“I hope this is a wake-up call and that we now address and eradicate sexism with much more vigour.”

Ms Anderson supported Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s suggestion that MPs should no longer be the direct employers of their clerks, saying it created a “power imbalance” that could serve as a “door for abuse”.

She said that one of the best ways to address the culture of misogyny is to bring the representation of men and women in parliament closer to parity.

“We can definitely increase the number of women in Parliament,” she said. “We’re nowhere near the 50/50 level that we should be equal to society. We are in the Labor Party, we have 54 per cent of MPs who are women. The Conservative Party is still only 24 percent and there are ways to change that, but they just aren’t enforcing those rules.”

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said misogyny is a problem for men, not women.

She told BBC1’s Breakfast: “Not all men are misogyny but all women experience misogyny and it’s a male behavior problem.

“It should be younger men that we’re talking to, rather than trying to tell young women what they need to do to deal with misogyny. We should try to educate young men and talk to them about behavior that doesn’t expose young people to this type of behavior and behavior.”

Ms Sturgeon said that after years in politics she had personally grown accustomed to the sexism she encountered, but that in her younger days she consciously adjusted her dress and demeanor in hopes of protecting herself from sexist comments.

She warned that politicians “run the risk of doing politics and public life where women just don’t want to be,” which she says would damage democracy.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/neil-parish-porn-women-byelection-b2069688.html Tory squabbles over call to find female candidate to replace Porn Shame MP

Bobby Allyn

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