Given the way this is playing out this is an organised attempt by the Labor Party to gain party political advantage. At the cost of making Parliament subservient. This is a very stupid thing to be doing.
That it’s women MPs leading the charge is simply because the crime under discussion is rape. Birds complaining about that just makes more sense, even as the complaint itself is grossly stupid:
A Conservative MP accused of rape should not be allowed back into Parliament until the criminal investigation into the allegations has concluded, an MP has said.
Charlotte Nichols, Labour MP for Warrington North, said the news the Tory MP will be able to return to the Commons on September 1 was “maddening”.
The MP’s bail was extended until early November, allowing him to be free to return to parliament in two weeks’ time, at the end of the summer recess.
Ms Nichols, the Labour MP for Warrington North, said: “From a safeguarding point of view it’s maddening that this MP is allowed back onto the Parliamentary estate before the investigation has concluded.”
The MP, who has not been identified, was arrested at the start of August after a woman in her 20s made a complaint of rape and sexual assault, and initially bailed until mid-August.
The Tory Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, has come under pressure to remove the whip from the MP, in the same way that former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke lost the whip in 2017 when he was first accused of sexual assaults. Last month he was found, in 2007 and 2016.
Losing the whip, or having it withdrawn, effectively means an MP or peer is expelled from their party. However, they do not lose their seat. Until the whip is restored, they sit as an independent in the chamber.
Jess Phillips, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, said: “Just as we are about to start bringing back our staff to work and get back to normal, this is a reminder that safety in our place of work is not always considered. He should not return to Parliament and safeguards should be put in place as they would for a teacher, a doctor or a carer.”
Whether or not the whip should be withdrawn is one thing. The idea of banning him from Parliament is quite another. We have rules about that and there’s good reason we do. If an accusation is all that it takes to exclude an MP then there will be lots of accusations against MPs. Imagine, say, a minority government. As we had only a couple of years back. Facing some tight votes in Parliament. Possibly a vote of confidence. So, gin up a few complaints against opposition MPs and reduce their voting bloc.
If you think that wouldn’t happen then you’re not paying attention to the viciousness of politics.
An MP can resign, sure they can – apply for the Chiltern Hundreds or the like. They can only be turfed out on conviction for an offence and also the sentencing to a year and a day or more of gaol time. They must be convicted – the allegation is proven – and they must receive that substantial sentence to show that it’s not some mere slip but a serious incident of a serious crime.
This is to say nothing about rape, the likelihood of conviction or anything to do with gender or structural oppression etc. It’s to safeguard the ability of Parliament to be Parliament. Given all the stuff John Wilkes went through you’d expect an MP or two to know this but these days they probably did Mary Seacole in history class instead. The freedom of the nation rests, at least in part, upon we the electors and only we the electors getting to decide who will represent us. Subject to that rather recent qualification of conviction to a decent sentence for a substantial crime. Not, as here, to the simple issuance of an accusation.
Which is why one recent Labour MP wasn’t turfed out upon conviction:
As she received a custodial sentence, but of less than 12 months, a recall petition would be started after the appeal process had concluded.
She couldn’t be excluded as the sentence was less than 12 months – therefore the voters got their say.