A CONSERVATIVE MP has been arrested and is under police investigation facing allegations of rape, indecent assault, abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in public office. The alleged offences are said to have taken place over a period of seven years from 2002 to 2009.

The identity of the MP, a man in his 50s, has not been revealed by the Metropolitan Police in line with guidance which prohibits the naming of suspects until they have been formally charged. The man has been released on bail and police investigations are continuing.

The arrest comes as Westminster, and the Conservative party in particular, is already dealing with multiple scandals relating to sexual abuse and misbehaviour.

The unnamed MP was arrested on the same day that the date was announced for two by-elections triggered by the resignations of Conservative MPs for sexual misconduct. Imran Ahmad Khan, who was the MP for Wakefield, was convicted in April of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. Earlier this month, Neil Parish, the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, resigned after admitting that he had been watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber. Both by-elections are scheduled to take place on June 23. 

A further Conservative MP, David Warburton, who represents Somerton and Frome, has had the whip suspended while he is investigated by the Commons’ independent complaints and grievance scheme for allegations of sexual harassment.

A total of 56 other MPs, including three Cabinet members, are currently under investigation by the Commons' authorities for alleged sexual harassment, amounting to 70 separate complaints, meaning that some MPs are subject to multiple allegations.

There are 650 MPs. The unnamed MP arrested on Tuesday plus the other investigations which are known about means that almost 10% of all MPs have either been forced to resign or are currently facing some form of investigation for sexual harassment or sexually inappropriate behaviour.

That is a shockingly high proportion of MPs and betokens a deeply toxic work culture in Westminster. It's a work culture which is fuelled by a lack of any meaningful accountability. A large majority of Westminster seats are considered to be safe seats – only 67 seats were won in the 2019 General Election by a margin of 5% or less. 

MPs representing safe seats know that it requires a political landslide in order to unseat them. 76 seats have been held by the Conservatives since the Second World War and 47 have been held by Labour for the same period of time. The first-past-the-post voting system favoured by Westminster favours the creation of safe seats. Naturally, MPs in these areas have no motivation to change the system.

In any other workplace, the level of bad behaviour which we see in the Commons would warrant mass sackings and a radical clear-out of personnel. However, this is the Westminster Parliament which is literally a law unto itself and we can be certain that the current public outrage about the appalling behaviour of so many MPs will not result in any meaningful changes.

These scandals will be dealt with in a similar way to the expenses scandal of a decade ago, which likewise provoked widespread public anger. A couple of low-level scapegoats will be sanctioned, the Government will announce some minor tweaks and changes to the regulations which will not change anything of substance, then it will proclaim that the Commons has got its house in order and everything will continue much as it did before.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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