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Tory ‘dinosaur’ damages party image as MP blocks upskirting bill

3:08 pm, 16th June 2018

But it was not just social media that went into meltdown over his actions – the Conservative Party was in a tailspin, too. Sir Christopher’s colleagues knew all too well the damage this would do.

“Don’t underestimate just how furious many Tory MPs are about this,” tweeted Paul Masterton, a new MP who is 39 years Sir Christopher’s junior.

“This kind of thing does far more damage to the public’s view of our party than endless debates about customs arrangements.”

Beyond SW1, people do not care – or even understand – much about the ins and outs of Brexit policy, but they do understand – and care about – social issues that perhaps touch their lives or speak to the kind of society they live in.

That is why Tories’ missteps on dementia, fox hunting and ivory trade hurt them in the 2017 election and why this furore over upskirting is so worrying for them now.

The bill called for taking photos up somebody’s skirt without permission to be made illegal.

MPs have publicly and privately sidelined Sir Chris as a politician of yesteryear.

He’s a “dinosaur” from a “different century” who has “stayed too long” on the Tory benches.

They are telling him to apologise, some are even muttering that the prime minister should withdraw the whip.

In his defence, his objection to the Private Member’s Bill on upskirting was not a defence of the practice itself – there are reports that Sir Chris does not even know what it is – but rather an objection in principle to the use of Private Members’ Bills to pass laws.

Sir Chris has made it his life’s work to block these bills on the basis that opposition parties should not be able to write government laws.

Of course this is the sort of arcane debate over parliamentary procedure that means little to women – and men – furious that upskirting has not been made a criminal offence.

They do not see an MP arguing a point of procedural principle; what they see a 71-year-old man allowing this awful crime to go on unchecked and a Tory Party that is out-of-touch with modern Britain.

The prime minister, her ministers and MPs have scrambled to contain the fallout and will certainly push through legislation to ban upskirting in the coming weeks.

But in a social media age, she will know that the damage has almost certainly now been done.

Perhaps it is time to retire the dinosaurs.