We must hold MPs to a higher standard

In the midst of ever-growing allegations against once untouchable Hollywood moguls and superstars; there is an undeniable ripple effect spreading across the world. Only last year, Americans elected Donald ‘grab em’ by the p****’ Trump as their President. Now, Labour’s Jared O’Mara has been suspended for what would have been called part of ‘lad culture’ only a short time ago. Is this the change we need? With regards to MPs especially, is it fair to hold them to such a high standard, dredging up years old comments to use as political ammunition?

In short, yes. After Westminster has been rocked by expenses scandals, campaigning lies and anti-Semitism in the same ten-year period, few professions are as widely vilified in the current climate as being a politician.

The general public doesn’t expect flawless politicians, they do, however, expect a hell of a lot better than whatever they’re getting at the moment.

Jared O’Mara (and others like him) will of course have their defenders who argue about how unfair it is to judge him for comments made when O’Mara was only a fresh-faced 22-year-old adult; that the fact he was on the Commons Equalities committee shows that now he is serious about showing respect for all people. I believe that these complaints miss the point to an extent.

It wasn’t simply the fact that Mr O’Mara made these comments that has caused such outcry, it’s that it took an online investigation to uncover them and force an admittance that they were actually said.

If Mr O’Mara was truly sorry for what he did 13 years ago, wouldn’t he have tried to get ahead of the outcry? After all, having a seat on the Equalities committee would have given him the perfect way to tell colleagues and the public that he has a flawed past but has truly changed since then, now willing to work to change the culture that he was a part of. Such a speech will likely never be made now, as even more recent allegations (which are denied by Mr O’Mara) come forward, making a permanent removal from the Parliamentary Labour Party seem almost inevitable.

It’s important to also turn our attention to the other side of the house. Although he sits in my constituency, Damian Green has occupied such a little amount of my thoughts that I couldn’t even picture his face when reading The Times article alleging his inappropriate behaviour.

The Green affair seems to be generating significantly less controversy than the O’Mara scandal, with no suspension in sight for the Prime Minister’s right-hand man. More of the media’s anti- Corbyn bias showing? No, this is because society has grown to almost expect such behaviour from men of Green’s generation and background. Mr O’Mara hails from one of the most progressive generations to date; his behaviour sticks out like a sore thumb, and after all, he has still apologized. I very much doubt that Damian Green will ever realize if he did anything wrong.


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Harry Routley

June 2021
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