Allow me to be lookist for a moment, not nice or fair, but just this once. Michael Fallon has fallen on his sword not because, seventeen years ago, he touched the knee of doughty hack Julia Hartley-Brewer, but because, according to reports, he admitted there could be more allegations about his roving hands and clumsy, pitiable lechery.
Other politicians with these tendencies include Mark Garnier, the international trade minister, who got his former assistant, Caroline Edmondson, to buy sex toys and referred to her breasts as 'sugar tits'. He says: "It absolutely does not constitute harassment." Stephen Crabb, who tried to win the Tory leadership contest, 'devout Christian' too, sent explicit sexual texts to two young women. One had applied to work in his office. Do these chaps ever look in the mirror? I mean did our defence sec really believe he was irresistible to females? I know much of this is about power. But some of it is about the vanity of men who overrate themselves.
Let me share my own two stories. I will never name the men because they have wives and children. Many years ago, when I was a lone mother, a married Tory cabinet minister invited me to move into his pad in Mayfair and service his needs during the week. He'd asked me to meet him to discuss social policy in his office at 6 pm. His secretary left. And then came the offer. I reminded him I was a journalist. He laughed and said: 'Would anyone believe you?' That was scary.
The second episode was not, because I was not alone. It involved a Labour minister. I was chairing a meeting of international politicians in London. This bloke, sitting next to me, kept squeezing my thigh. I turned to him and asked him to stop, in front of the audience. He turned red. So when Fallon says back then it was ok. It was not. It never is. And when Garnier thinks what he did does not constitute 'harassment' he proves what a boorish, unevolved male he is.
The sick attitudes are present in all the parties. Bex Bailey, a Labour party activist claims she was raped after a party event; another woman accuses an MP of assaulting her. Libdem and Labour men have never dealt honestly with the accusations made by victims of sexual pestering, abuse and rape. They say the new scandals are a wake-up call. But how long before the alarm stops ringing and life gets back to 'normal'? Remember the LibDem peer Chris Rennard? Several party women complained that he had behaved inappropriately. Internal and police investigations got nowhere. The leadership asked him "to apologise, to reflect on his behaviour." As I said, the alarm was switched off.
Which leads me to the female appeasers of predatory, invasive men. They who are creepily ingratiating to powerful males and vicious to females who speak out. Go look up the harridans at Conservative Woman @TheConWom , Michael Gove's wife Sarah Vine and extreme libertarians. Suzanne Moore calls them "mercenaries, for the patriarchy" and so they are. Mrs May now promises to change the political culture. Labour MP Lisa Nandy is sceptical: "Three years ago I brought evidence to her in this House that whips had used information about sexual abuse to demand loyalty from MPs...I warned her at the time that unless real action was taken, we risked repeating those injustices again today. On three occasions I asked her to act and on three occasions she did not."
More allegations come everyday. Damian Green is now accused of abusing his position by Kate Maltby, a party activist and networker: "When Sir Michael made a move on Hartley-Brewer, he may not have been in a position of power over her...But when Damian Green, now the first secretary of state, did the same to me, he offered exactly that... He offered me career advice and in the same breath made it clear he was sexually interested. It was not acceptable to me at the time and it should not be acceptable behaviour in Westminster in the future." Green denies it all and has brought in lawyers.
This could be one of those political moments of reckoning. Usually the state recovers, makes promises and returns to business as usual. This age old response may not work now.
Secrets kept safe for too long are out. Too many male MPs think they can amuse themselves with various females and some males too, who work in Westminster, the birthplace of modern democracy. Last year, came portentous news that those salubrious buildings are crumbling and infested with rats. What an apt metaphor for what is going on at present.
As more amatory rats are found among the elected, trust will collapse. Our democratic edifice is imperilled . Do the randy MPs begin to understand that?