UK

BBC Question Time: Owen Jones Fears Government Turning 'Blind Eye' To Harassment

'They have to set an example'.

03/11/2017 00:12 GMT | Updated 03/11/2017 09:56 GMT

Guardian columnist Owen Jones has warned of the Conservative government turning a “blind eye” to sexual harassment allegations as the scandal continues to engulf Westminster.

Speaking on BBC’s Question Time, the left-wing campaigner addressed the controversies that have emerged in recent days, which promoted the resignation of Defence Secretary Michale Fallon.

Jones referred to the much-discussed ‘dossier’ reportedly held by Conservative Party whips, which details a litany of charges against their own MPs. The list has been circulating online, and is disputed by many of the politicians named.

Jones said the show would doubtless discuss the “incredibly courageous” Labour activist Bex Bailey, who this week revealed that she was raped during a party event - but was discouraged from reporting the assault.

Instead, he focussed on the Government needing to be seen to be “cleaning up politics”.

He said:

“My worry with the Conservative Party at the moment was a briefing in the Sunday Times this week which suggested the new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, had given regular briefings to Theresa May about sexual harrassment by her Cabinet ministers and MPs.

“And the question has to be there, why wasn’t it acted on? Was it used to try and keep their loyalty, to scare them into believing that it would be exposed, rather than acting on it? Did the whips fail to act?

“Because if the government of this country turns a blind eye to sexual harrassment, what message does that send to the rest of the country, when male violence against girls and women is so rampant?

“They have to set an example, and that means cleaning up politics in this country to show that sexism and misogyny has been consigned to the scrapheap of history forever.”

Theresa May has written to party leaders, including Jeremy Corbyn, to ask to meet next week in an attempt to address the allegations of harassment that have engulfed parliament.

Labour MP Jess Phillips agreed that politics would be deemed “rotten” if the accusations were ignored.

He was speaking on the recording before it was revealed Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins had been suspended from the party over sexual harassment allegations.

 Some pointed to the issue being a cross-party problem.