The revelations about the blatant sexism and harassment of the Presidents Club have resulted in the dissolution of the club – but not the removal of Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi, at least yet.
Theresa May has expressed her ‘full confidence’ in her minister after it emerged that he attended the ‘groping’ event – which may well, with such a weak PM, mean he will be lucky to last until the weekend.
Zahawi described himself as ‘uncomfortable’ at what was happening at the club, although according to Newsnight, this is not the first time he has attended.
Participation in such events is anything but an aberration for the Tory party. In October 2016, the Horwich Conservative Club in Bolton held an ironically-named ‘gentlemen’s evening’ featuring strippers.
The overt sexism is not merely a feature of Tory social events either. A few years ago, a booklet sent out to Tories – including MPs – with the official literature pack for their annual conference included discount vouchers to a lap-dancing club neighbouring the conference venue:
The cases of sacked Tory cabinet ministers Michael Fallon and Damian Green for inappropriate behaviour with women and ‘extreme‘ pornography are so well known as to need little description – while the Tory ‘sex-pest list’ of numerous MPs now seems almost forgotten in the flood of Tory sleaze.
But the Tory culture of misogyny and abuse is not limited to sexual harassment and exploitation. Just last year, when Labour front-bencher Diane Abbott testified to the hideous racist and sexist abuse she had suffered, Tory MP Guto Bebb’s comment in a Facebook video he issued about the ‘abuse’ suffered by Tories was:
While some people are trying to claim that this is something that happens to all candidates…
When his female Labour General Election opponent suffered vile sexist abuse during the campaign, Bebb bleated about someone singing ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ late at night.
The Tories have also been responsible for generating online abuse. When Harrow Tories were caught out tweeting racist abuse – again toward Diane Abbott – they did not apologise.
Instead, they tried to swap the tweet for a similar, inoffensive one – and to hide the fact that the Twitter account belonged to them:
This pattern of Tory exploitation and obfuscation goes back years. Theresa May infamously ‘lost’ vital evidence of child abuse by MPs when she was Home Secretary.
But she was reduced to near-incoherence when, as Prime Minister, she was challenged her repeated failure to investigate the cover-up of child abuse by Tory whips – which one of them had admitted on video:
Tory councillors have also been accused of bullying and abuse of a trans woman in the north-east of England.
Tory policies attack vulnerable women and children, as Labour MP Chris Williamson discussed recently in one of his weekly parliamentary report videos – while Tory MPs and their media allies launched a wave of barely-concealed misogynist attacks last year on Labour MPs Laura Pidcock and Emma Dent Coad for daring to threaten their ‘club’.
Nadhim Zahawi claimed his presence – for at least the second time – at the Presidents Club made him ‘uncomfortable’. May has ‘full confidence’ in him and has left other MPs and ministers in place who featured on the ‘pest list’.
None of this is an aberration, nor even out of the ordinary.
It’s just ‘business as usual’ for the Tories – even as they implode amid sleaze and and incompetence.
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