Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says it is time to 'clean out the stables' at Westminster

Ms Davidson said it would require some ‘pretty big shovels’

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 02 November 2017 09:58
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Ruth Davidson: "The dam has broken on this now and these male-dominated professions"

Senior Conservative Ruth Davidson has said it is time to “clean out the stables” after Sir Michael Fallon became the first major scalp of Westminster’s sexual harassment scandal.

Speaking after an event in London on Wednesday, hours after Sir Michael announced his departure, Scottish Tory leader Ms Davidson said the “dam has broken” and the “locker room culture” of male-dominated professions has to stop.

Ms Davidson, seen as a future Conservative leader, spoke out as further claims about Sir Michael were expected and as other Tory colleagues face a range of different allegations amid the growing political storm.

In a speech at an event in Westminster, which Theresa May pulled out of at the last minute, Ms Davidson said it was time to “clean out the stables”.

In an interview afterwards, she told the BBC: “The dam has broken on this now and these male-dominated professions, overwhelmingly male-dominated professions, where the boys own locker room culture has prevailed and it’s all been a bit of a laugh, has got to stop.”

She added: “It is clear that there has been not just in our trade, but in other trades … that there has been this sense that people can use positions of power to demand things from others and that has got to stop.

“The way in which it has manifested itself is with sexual impropriety, misconduct and in some cases assault. But it isn’t actually about sex. It’s about power. It’s always about power. We, as elected representatives, have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

“We are in positions of power so that we can make things better for those who comes after, not so that we can exert that power in a nefarious way.”

Earlier in the evening, Sir Michael said in a television interview that his behaviour in the past had fallen below the standards required of the armed forces he represents.

He had been forced to apologise earlier in the week after it emerged he repeatedly put his hands on a female journalist’s knee.

But asked if further revelations were expected about his behaviour he had simply said that behaviour that was acceptable ten years ago now no longer is.

Ms Davidson said Sir Michael made the decision “on his own behalf”, “as a point of honour” and that it was “right for him to do so”.

She said more broadly: “When you put people in a position where they feel they can’t speak out because they’re on a ladder and the person that is exerting power and influence over them is a few rungs further up that ladder then we absolutely fail as leaders.

“The way in which you succeed in leadership is to be a servant not a master. You serve to lead. At Sandhurst, that’s what all officers are taught. You serve to lead.

“As law-makers and people who make decisions, we have to hold ourselves, our personal conduct to high standards, we have to run our offices, our personal offices, to a high standard, as well as public office and the offices of state, to a high standard.”

Sir Michael’s resignation sent a shock wave through Westminster, which is still reeling from fresh allegations on Wednesday – including that a male worker and female staffer had their crotches groped by different politicians and that another woman had her drink spiked with a “date rape” drug in one of Parliament’s bars.

Other Tory ministers hit back against a “dirty dossier” spreadsheet containing speculative allegations and being circulated on social media, with at least two consulting lawyers.

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