Against the already febrile political atmosphere of today’s leadership battle, or bloodbath, in Westminster, you could be mistaken in your belief that nothing else could shock seasoned politicos and Westminster watchers. But that’s where you’d be sorely mistaken.
Just after two this afternoon, news broke that shamed Tory MP Andrew Griffiths, the MP who sent “depraved” messages to two of his female constituents, has had his suspension from the party lifted.
Why? So that he can vote to keep PM Theresa May in power in this evening’s crunch no confidence vote brought by leading Brexiteers within May’s own party.
Here is my simple but straightforward message to Theresa May:
Theresa, do you really want to be known as the PM whose premiership was propped up by the vote of a man who sent messages including “She’s so cute. So sweet. I can’t wait to beat her” and “Can she take a beating?”.
Does staying in power mean so much to you that you are willing to let down the sisterhood? By allowing a man your own party suspended for sexual harassment to re-enter party politics sends out a powerful message - that sexist and misogynistic attitudes towards women will be forgiven and forgotten as long as there are political gains to be had for a leader desperate to stay in power.
I have, in the past, been vocal in my criticism of how May has been treated by her party, even offering her my support as a fellow woman. But I cannot and will not accept that a shamed MP should be allowed back into the party just so he can prop her premiership.
When the news first broke, I was tempted to say this was not too dissimilar to the DUP deal that helped keep May in power after she lost her majority following the 2017 General Election. But I am afraid this is much much worse.
What message is being sent to women, and, in particular, victims of domestic violence?
Today’s decision to lift Griffiths’ suspension just so that he can vote will be remembered long after the bloodbath of the latest Tory leadership battle has been washed away.
It will stain any suggestion going forward that May cares and supports women and will no doubt come back to bite her and her party when we all go back to the polls.