Last week I attended a South West Growth Summit put on by our Local Enterprise Partnership in Exeter and I would like to start by saying thanks to everyone involved for what was a very positive event. Some might not know that the South West has a population bigger than Norway’s, Finland’s or Ireland’s and we should have ambitions to match. Amongst other things this week I am working on a Budget submission to support further funding for our local railway and ways to improve broadband coverage on the trains which is so important for business users.
They say there is no such thing as bad publicity but I am not sure that will be much consolation to Jared O’Mara this week who has had some indefensible comments made online unearthed. The MP for Sheffield Hallam, who beat Nick Clegg in the last election, has covered a wide range of ways in which to offend and has been forced to resign from the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
My condemnation would do little to add to Mr O’Mara’s considerable woes but it goes without saying that there is no place for sexism in the world today, let alone in the Houses of Parliament. This is the case for two reasons; MPs are in public life and so a certain standard of behaviour is a reasonable expectation, but also we are catching up from too many years when politics wasn’t a welcoming environment for women.
The current backdrop of publicity around the Harvey Weinstein allegations provides a powerful wave of support for tackling sexism in all walks of life which is a good thing. I would add though, that whilst expressing solidarity and sharing experiences can be powerful tools in improving attitudes, let’s make sure the justice system works for those who need to use it. Harassment, sexual assault and constructive dismissal are all illegal and I hope that the current publicity will give more focus on making the justice process more user friendly for victims.