With Michael Fallon’s resignation – which we learned today was down to Andrea Leadsom – the Tories have been front-and-centre of the Westminster sexual harassment story to date.
But Labour are also in the frame, and not just because the ex-Tory aide ministers apparently believe to be behind the ‘dirty dossier’ is now employed by Lord Mandelson.
Two days ago Bex Bailey, an activist, came forward to report that Labour officials had warned her off from pursuing a rape allegation against a senior party figure (although not an MP). Now the Daily Telegraph reports that Kelvin Hopkins, a former shadow minister and the MP for Luton North, has had the whip withdrawn after allegations from another activist.
That there are allegations against MPs on both sides of the House is not surprising, but what’s potentially very dangerous for the Labour leadership is that Hopkins got his shadow cabinet promotion after these allegations were first made. Paul Waugh writes this morning that he appears to have got special treatment:
“Remember that Simon Danczuk was suspended from the party in December 2015, precisely the same time that the Hopkins allegations were known in the party. Their cases were very similar, but Hopkins was not suspended and Danczuk was.”
Hopkins is a staunch left-winger, a long-standing member of the Campaign Group of socialist Labour MPs, and one of those who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership in 2015 and doesn’t now regret it. Danczuk, by contrast, was well to the right of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Thus at a time when he surely wishes he could focus on a vulnerable Government, the Labour leader now faces calls from his own MPs to get his own house in order – and the New Statesman reports there are likely more allegations to follow.
None of this in any way diminishes the seriousness of some of the allegations facing Conservative politicians. However, it does suggest that the political fallout of ‘Pestminster’ may be less predictable than comparisons with the ‘Tory sleaze’ of the Nineties might suggest.