When the sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein surfaced, many reporters suggested that this would be the mere tip of the iceberg as the lid was blown on a horrendous culture of misogyny that has seemingly blighted the film industry for decades.
It take remarkable bravery on the part of victims to come forward in these cases, and particularly so when such a powerful individual’s conduct is brought into question.
The downfall of Weinstein seems to have been reflected in a number of other sectors too; not least UK politics, where the early signs are suggesting that a similar environment of sexual harassment and misconduct has been allowed to thrive for far too long.
Emboldened by the courage of those victims Stateside, those who have been harassed, pestered and assaulted on these shores are starting to come forward and finally have their voices heard.
And already, senior MPs are beginning to fall on their swords. The now former Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, is the first high profile casualty of the recent allegations; he resigned after stating that ‘what was acceptable 15, 10 years ago is clearly not acceptable now.’
His resignation letter continued: “A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct.
“Many of these have been false but I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces that I have the honour to represent.”
The Labour Party has since suspended their Luton North MP, Kelvin Hopkins, after he was accused of sexual harassment by a former party worker.
Activist Ava Etemadzadeh made the allegation more than two years ago, but was told that she ‘couldn’t take anonymous action’. Hopkins was subsequently promoted to shadow culture secretary despite the scandal.
The general feeling that this only the beginning, and that more heads will roll as new names come to light.
Fallon’s demise opened up a pretty important role in the cabinet: that of the Defence Secretary, which is clearly a crucial position in this uncertain age, and Theresa May has opted for the slightly controversial figure of Gavin Williamson to fill Fallon’s shoes.
So what do we know about this 41-year-old?
’Underqualified Chancer’ or Bright Young Hope?
The Prme Minister has come under fire for promoting Williamson to the key position despite his minimal political experience.
He formerly held the position of Chief Whip, but has switched from keeping the bad boys and girls of politics in check in the Commons to monitoring the activities of Islamic State and other terrorist organisations. Having watched numerous episodes of Prime Minister’s Questions, which not sure which is the more arduous task.
Williamson is the MP for Staffordshire South, but a perceived lack of political experience has rankled many in the Conservative Party, who believe a more storied member should have been elevated to the crucial position. Sarah Wollaston told Radio 4 that “these are decisions that are made through patronage. Part of the role of the chief whip is to advise the prime minister about the suitability of the candidate.”
Another MP allegedly told The Sun that ‘she [May] is so weak she has let Gavin Williamson appoint himself Defence Secretary. This is appalling. She has to go.’
Some rather more naughty politicians have claimed that Williamson will use the defence secretary position to elevate himself as a potential replacement for Theresa May as the next Prime Minister – and it’s all because of his pet tarantula.
The 41-year-old keeps his spider on his desk in the whips’ office, and it is named Cronus; the Greek god who killed and castrated his own father to become leader of the Titans. May will be keeping a close eye on Williamson in the coming months!
What are the Odds?
The betting public have been swayed by Williamson, and his odds to move into a more senior role in the near future have tumbled as a result.
He wasn’t even on the radar of bookmakers a few weeks ago, and if you’d asked for a price on him to become the next prime minister or next Tory leader you would have essentially been able to name your own odds.
But now look: he’s into 6/1 to be the next Conservative Party leader and 12/1 to be the next Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd might have something to say about that – the latter in particular has been well backed of late, although two of the other main candidates, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have seen their stock fall of late.
Davis is making a bit of a hash of Brexit negotiations, while Rees-Moog has been outed as some kind of Neolithic gorgon with his frankly awful views on abortion.
So watch this space: Gavin Williamson could be this country’s next key political figure.