Voters 'should be able to elect racists or misogynists', says New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne
ELECTORS should have the right to vote for racists or misogynists if that is who they want as their MP, New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne has said.
Stressing he hoped his constituents would never make that choice, the Conservative backbencher told the House of Commons that policing MPs' views would not chime with the foundations on which democracy is built.
"And indeed the principle of democracy is undermined by the requirement that we may be required to subscribe to behaviours to promote certain attitudes," he said.
"I hope that my constituents never elect a racist or a misogynist, but they have a right to do so."
Installing an effective "jurisdiction" on what happens in parliament was concerning, Sir Desmond carried on.
His comments came during a parliamentary debate over a report by the standards committee, which is drawing up plans for a new code of conduct for MPs.
It has come in the wake of the Owen Paterson saga – which eventually saw the Tory resign as an MP amid findings he breached paid advocacy rules. It has led to criticism of MPs' second jobs and their conduct.
The committee has suggested adding "respect" to the principles of conduct, mooted that MPs must adopt "anti-discriminatory attitudes" and behaviours, promote inclusion and diversity, and avoid making "unreasonable and excessive personal attacks on social media, in person or in writing".
However, the latter lead backbenchers to share fears that scrutiny of senior ministers when they take questions from committees could be hindered.