Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have made it plain that they abhor misogyny – and the sexual harassment of women.
Now they need to make an example of those colleagues whose demeaning words and behaviour causes such offence.
This issue, which has come to light after women felt emboldened to speak out following the sex scandal involving disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, should not be about party politics. It’s about human decency and the civility with which all sections of society should be treated in the 21st century.
Yet, as the Prime Minister writes to the Speaker of the House of Commons for guidance on how best to address the latest allegations of sexual misconduct at Parliament, both Mrs May – and Mr Corbyn – have it within their power to sack any offenders and should now do so.
Though Environment Secretary Michael Gove made a tactless joke over the weekend about Weinstein that he later regretted, this issue is no laughing matter to the victims – or all those women who have embraced the #metoo social media campaign in a hope of achieving lasting change.
Having said that “unwanted sexual behaviour is completely unacceptable, and that is true in any walk of life – including politics”, Mrs May needs to sack any Minister or MP who has transgressed as Trade Minister Mark Garnier comes under scrutiny.
It’s the same with Mr Corbyn who condemned the “warped and degrading culture” at Westminster before adding: “Any members of Parliament who have engaged in this sort of behaviour must be held to account.” These words will look pious if they’re not now applied to suspended Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara whose alleged “language” and “tone” was described as “unacceptable” by Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary.
If political leaders don’t act more decisively, how can they expect other high-profile institutions, like the BBC, to get their own protocols in order to ensure that all females are treated with respect? Women, too, have human rights.