Moments of sadness – not madness

A mature man has been found watching porn while waiting to vote in the chamber of the house of Commons. It turns out he was spotted doing it again in another part of parliament. The man is resigning , rather than being booted out and claims he purposefully watched porn “in a moment of madness”. On the other occasion he keyed in “tractor” and ended up on a site dedicated to some specialist form of sex. This is not mad, it is sad.

Sad for the man , one of those anonymous blokes that makes up the Tory back bench , has a comfortable lifestyle and a seemingly happy family life. His moral standards had slipped so low that he thought that watching porn was something he could do on his phone when not alone.

Sad for parliament, where this kind of thing is part of a culture of sordid masculinity that is known as “prep school behavior” – by men who practice or condone it. The man even asks us for our sympathy.

“heavy is the head that wears the crown”

Sad , that as the Conservative party and its leadership lurch from one scandal to another, nothing seems to be so wrong that it cannot be swept under the carpet by some kind of parliamentary review.

We need to stop the rot

There are decent people in parliament, there are decent people in the Conservative party. There are still standards in public behavior which make people angry that this man’s identity was initially kept secret, that the man was allowed to lie to the press and that his colleagues were made to be party to this. Fortunately, that did not last for long but it lasted too long- even so.

Porn is degrading not just to those who watch it, but to those who make it. It is corrosive to our mental welfare like cigarettes are corrosive to the lungs. It is accepted because it is available – as cigarettes are. But it is not something that anyone but a sad and deluded person would allow to be shared on CCTV (or however this man was found out).

We need to raise the standard of behavior in the House of Commons and that means stopping the “theatre” of question time and making it a dignified and reasoned debating chamber.

The change must come from the top, and that means that the Prime Minister must himself intervene and change things- he needs to start by changing his own behavior and show his back-benchers an example. My personal view is that both the Prime Minister and the man watching porn are part of the same problem. They have so forgotten the dignity of office as to be quite unworthy of it.

And what are we to make of the appalling behavior this week towards Angela Rayner. or the 50 allegations of sexual misconduct against MP?

I am glad to read this morning that senior MPs have called for a drastic overhaul of Westminster, following a series of sexual misconduct and bullying claims about politicians.

Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle said “radical action” and a review of working practices is needed.

Meanwhile, former leader of the house Dame Andrea Leadsom backed setting up a human resources department.

This is no more than we would expect in any workplace

Times have changed. The workplace I entered in 1983 is thankfully nothing like the workplace of today. People of any age are expected to behave in a professional way that involves treating each other with respect whether in or out of the workplace.

There are examples where this doesn’t happen and they now get called out, typically because they get found out. CCTV and mobile phones may be intrusive, but they mean that sexist and bullying behavior can be recorded and used to name and shame.

Which is why this man’s behavior is sad not mad. He simply doesn’t understand the standards of the world he lives in. And it’s even more sad that he is not alone in parliament.

We need this sorted out and sorted double quick. Government sets the tone of governance and if the behavior of parliament spreads to other workplaces, we are creating a world of grief for the victims of sexism and bullying.

The sadness is that what Neil Parish did doesn’t look a “moment of madness”, so much as  “business as usual”.





About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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