A Labour MP has accused Tories of deliberately mocking northern female politicians because of their accents during Commons debates.
Pat Glass, who represents Durham North West, said it was not just older Tories who were guilty of barracking Labour women, and blamed the macho Westminster culture.
In an interview with the Sunday Sun newspaper, she said new South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck was also singled out “because of her Sarah Millican-style accent”.
Mrs Glass told the Press Association: “The hardest thing I found going into Parliament was the culture.
“If I had gone to an all boys public school I would have fitted in, but I didn't.
“What I found is if a woman gets to speak, particularly women with an accent, then there is orchestrated barracking.
“You don't get to see it on television because the camera is fixed on the person who is speaking and not on the orchestrated response.
“I get the impression they think women who are northerners should not be there.”
Sexist of the year 2013 runners-up
Sexist of the year 2013 runners-up
1/5 David Cameron
The prime minister was runner-up to Robin Thicke for 2013's sexist of the year. Earlier this year, female MP Therese Coffey argued that the leading politician should have anti-sexist training to help boost the pitiful number of women in his cabinet - four. Past sexist controversies have included Cameron telling shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Angela Eagle to 'calm down dear' during a Commons exchange.
2/5 Godfrey Bloom
The ex-UKIP MEP resigned after making a controversial 'joke' describing a women in politics conference meeting as being 'full of sluts'. Bloom is no stranger to outrage, having previously condemned aid to 'bongo bongo land'. There should be a mention of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who defended Bloom and insisted lines of racism and sexism had not been crossed. Bloom claimed he had used the 'slut' slur as the word was originally intended, to refer to untidy women. Urm...
3/5 Tom Newton-Dunn
Stella Creasy (pictured) was attacked by The Sun's political editor Tom Newton-Dunn after she spoke in Parliament in favour of the No More Page 3 campaign to ban the bare breasts from The Sun. Newton-Dunn sent a tweet reading: 'Boldly, Stella Creasy has just asked the PM to justify Page 3 while wearing a bright blue PVC skirt in the Commons chamber', as if such a skirt-wearing crime made her argument void...
4/5 Robert Colover
Barrister Robert Colover was a contender for this year's sexist title after comments he made during the sentencing of paedophile Neil Wilson at Snaresbrook Crown Court (pictured) in August. He described the 13-year-old victim as sexually 'predatory', claiming she had 'forced' herself onto 41-year-old Wilson. He later agreed to resign from the Crown Prosecution Service.
5/5 George Galloway
Last year's sexist of the year, George Galloway MP was crowned winner of the dubious accolade after saying that having sex with a woman while she was asleep was 'really bad sexual etiquette but whatever else it is, it is not rape' in relation to the Julian Assange case. He won a copy of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as a prize.
In one debate Mrs Glass broke off from speaking to highlight the problem, and the Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo intervened.
She feared the atmosphere was putting off women from playing an active role in politics - but that nothing will change until more women become MPs.
David Cameron has been accused of “failing women across the country” with a picture of the PM’s all-male front bench at PMQs earlier this month being shared widely as an example of the Tories “problem with women.”
The lack of women in senior positions in government is increasingly becoming an embarrassment for the PM. Even more damning for Cameron, one of the two female MPs who were visible behind him at PMQs that fateful Wednesday had just been deselected citing “ungentlemanly behaviour”. Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton MP said this had brought “great discredit to the Conservative Party” and added that her claims were being looked at in the “highest ranks” of her party.
Miliband's accusations that David Cameron runs his party “like an old boys network” comes after Conservative ministers were accused of carrying out a “cull” of women who head public bodies. This came amid a growing controversy over the sacking of the chair of Ofsted, the schools inspectorate Sally Morgan. Harriet Harman said it was “raining men” in the Conservative party. The following week saw women all over the Conservative benches, amid accusations that the Tory party were now cynically flooding the commons to prove a point.
The Conservative party has 48 women MPs and 256 men, while Labour has 86 women and 169 men. The Lib Dems have just seven out of 57 MPs. The front bench was all men on Wednesday because Home Secretary Theresa May was missing from her usual front bench position. The Labour bench included senior figures such as shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content