Tory all-women shortlist blasted as ‘demeaning’ by female minister

Ed Davey criticises misogyny and sexism in government

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Michelle Donelan insisted women can “get there on merit” after some Tories demanded men in the party should be blocked from fighting the seat. Mr Parish quit as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting that he had watched pornography in the Commons chamber. Ms Donelan said: “We don’t do it by putting in quotas, which I find quite demeaning to women. Women can get there on merit. “We have seen that in the past in my own party – the first two female prime ministers when Labour haven’t even come close.

“We have got the Home Secretary who is a female, we have got the Foreign Secretary who is a female: those individuals got there on merit.”

Lurid claims about the behaviour of some MPs and aides emerged in the wake of Mr Parish’s resignation, including anonymous accusations that a senior MP licked the faces of male researchers in parliamentary bars, an ex adviser groped staff and a minister had noisy sex in their office.

Ms Donelan said that while she had not been subjected to unacceptable behaviour in her seven years as an MP, it was “horrific and alarming” to see so many reports.

“This is not the majority of Members of Parliament, this is a minority. These are misogynistic dinosaurs. They do not represent the majority of Members of Parliament,” she said.

Some MPs have called for parliament’s bars to be shut down to curb bad behaviour.

But Ms Donelan dismissed the suggestion saying it “doesn’t wash” to use alcohol as an excuse.

“Are we literally saying that people can’t go and have a drink and then behave themselves? Because that is a damning indictment,” she said.

“There are many workplaces where after work, people will go with their colleagues for a drink, and that doesn’t then excuse them to sexually harass or sexually abuse or bully, somebody afterwards.

“That’s just not acceptable, and using bars as an excuse doesn’t wash for me.”

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