SLEAZE in Westminster is nothing new. “Sex scandal”, “bullying scandal”, “sexism”, “harassment”, “misogyny” are all pretty common words to see in headlines about the place. The number of these scandals has been increasing steadily throughout my lifetime. People have long known the place is a cesspool, but when people ask me about Parliament, I must tell them the truth: things are getting worse.

The toxic masculinity has been heightened from already appalling levels, but even I never expected to read that an MP was caught watching porn on their phone while sitting in the House of Commons chamber. It would be bad enough to be caught doing that in your private office, but in the chamber itself? It’s disgusting.

Once the complaints were made public there was the usual swirl of whispers and questions as to who the culprit is. But I could not help but question what frame of mind someone must be in to think that watching porn whilst sitting on the benches you were elected to is acceptable. The only answer I can come up with is entitlement. Sheer and potent entitlement.

It is a symptom of a workplace that isn’t built to be a place of work, but rather a private club that lets the rich and bored public-school boys preserve their egos and play their power games. One Tory MP described the 2019 intake of MPs as treating the last two and a half years as one long Freshers Week. That sounds about right to me. And, look, I get it. When I was first elected I spent my share of time in the pubs there. You’re not allowed to leave the building in case there are votes, it is not unusual to be sitting until the early hours of the morning voting, you are nowhere near your family of friends – so I understand why people might kill time in one of the many, many bars on the parliamentary estate.

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It is a culture of “sink or swim”, except the ocean is made of bevvy. It’s one thing seeing your colleagues get drunk and act daft at the annual work Christmas party and another thing altogether to see folk do it night after night for years.

What are the effects of a workplace culture that resembles an endless Freshers Week then? Well, this week we found out one effect is 56 MPs apparently being investigated for sexual misconduct. It’s members of the shadow cabinet being inappropriate with backbenchers. It is creepy articles about the legs of female politicians being normalised. And yes, one effect is an MP deciding it’s acceptable to watch porn in the chamber, while sitting with colleagues, surrounded by microphones and cameras and a public gallery.

When we consider these revelations alongside the culture and tone set by this government, things begin to make horrific sense. If the Prime Minister can get away with breaking the law to close Parliament, breaking the law to attend illegal parties at the height of a global pandemic, tell barefaced lies about it, get caught, and yet face no meaningful accountability for any of it – why would anyone else expect accountability?

I have previously mentioned that this government is much like the Trump administration in that it creates so many fires that it is overwhelming. It gets to the point that no-one knows which fire to deal with first.

READ MORE: Tory Neil Parish to continue ‘duties’ as MP despite ‘watching porn in Commons’

This week was yet another example of this in action. Whilst everyone is rightly horrified by these pornographic revelations, the Government has pushed through some of the cruellest and most dangerous legislation that I have ever seen –the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bill. These bills curtail people’s right to protest and lay the legal groundwork for the horrific, callous and cruel plan to ship asylum seekers form the UK to Rwanda. This has happened and you probably didn’t hear much about it because it suits the Government.

After 10 years of Tory governments squeezing everything they can out of them and compounded by Brexit and the Tory cost-of-living crisis, people are too busy trying to survive to keep an eye on everything that needs to change.

The place is rife with sleaze. It’s rife with misogyny. It’s rife with corruption. It won’t ever change. There have been so many scandals and so many times MPs have been trekked out in front of news cameras to say that things need to change, but it won’t ever change. It’s baked into the system.