Parish resigns decently over indecency in the Commons

In what is possibility the most honest resignation in recent times, Neil Parish MP for Tiverton and Honiton has taken the Chiltern Hundreds.

In a government led by Boris Johnson, who has been widely accused of lying, his resignation has been honest and frank. Although Parish was initially was looking for tractors while on the Conservative benches, he found something that entertained him more. Then he went back again. He told the BBC:

“I did get into another website that had a very similar name and I watched it for a bit, which I shouldn’t have done.

“But my crime – biggest crime – is that on another occasion I went in a second time.”

He is victim of his own misfortune and he had to go voluntarily or be dismissed. He chose not to hang on. It is rare now for MPs to resign with decency, even if they are resigning for indecency.

I hope this sets a precedent. Those caught lying, abusing the standards the public once expected, but now despair of, should fess up and go.

Those who drop their trousers or lift their skirts in a private context are not a matter for us unless it is an abuse of power.

Parliamentarians are real people, some with fantasies and habits that many would not approve of. That is not in itself a problem. But when they cross the line, watching porn in the chamber for example, it undermines the integrity of governance in our country.

Parish is right to go. He’d been caught out and he had become an embarrassment to his party, our government and our nation. But his resignation was the most decent and honest we have heard for years. Even if the resignation was for indecency.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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  • Brad Barrows 30th Apr '22 - 7:44pm

    Very well put.

  • I feel you’re giving him a bit too much credit Andy. He has prevaricated for days, even speculated on TV about it as though he was just a casual observer, and then when he was eventually named his initial response was to front it out – “the committee will decide” – until he realised the game was up.
    I do have some human sympathy with him after watching his interview today. Clearly a soul in some torment. However I don’t believe he deserves much credit for his handling of all this.
    Meanwhile…. Please let’s all…..

  • Jack Nicholls 1st May '22 - 6:48am

    I’ll try and put these thoughts as carefully as I can. I do not and would not defend what NP did, or more accurately where and how he did it. I’m a very liberal Liberal about these things, and believe there is a line, albeit dotted and blurred, between offence and harm, but material of this kind does not belong in most workplaces, and certainly not in the public fora of workplaces. I think a few days to settle one’s response is pretty good compared with the current regime, and I don’t complain about him initially seeking (in as much as it exists in the Commons) due process – something else where I am a very liberal Liberal. If an MP was seen drinking in the chamber, they would be reprimanded. They would also, I hope, be offered help. I really hope LDs can avoid illiberal populist moralising in the by-election and make it about the government record, while keeping a laser-like focus on changing the deep and monstrous culture of the Commons at its real root. Nice post Andy.

  • The mere fact that you feel he resigned ‘decently’ shows how low politics, and our expectation of politicians, has fallen..

  • Barry Lofty 1st May '22 - 11:54am

    The constant revelations about people elected to represent us just shows how badly we need to get rid of the present administration and take a root and branch reappraisal of how our Parliament is operating!

  • Jason Connor 1st May '22 - 12:32pm

    I can only add to Jack Nicholls’ carefully worded comment and I take your point on the drinking culture there too. Your last sentence is excellent. Surely someone breaching workplace rules in this way would be subject to an employer’s disciplinary procedure/investigation in the first instance which would decide on appropriate action which may include dismissal.

  • Jack Nicholls 1st May '22 - 1:21pm

    Thank you Jason 😊

  • Ruth Bright 1st May '22 - 3:11pm

    Says it all that you can bring your interest in tractors into the chamber but not a breastfeeding baby.

    I feel a bit sorry for him. He is ridiculous but he did not pester anyone. Can we honestly say there are no members of the Houses of Parliament (of any party) happily retaining their places having done far worse.

  • Michael Cole 1st May '22 - 3:21pm

    Barry Lofty makes an important point: ” … take a root and branch reappraisal of how our Parliament is operating!”

    It’s not just the operation of Parliament but, perhaps more importantly, the composition of its members.

    So not just the operation of Parliament, but a root and branch reappraisal of the electoral system and the Constitution. We have long known that these issues are the root cause of much of the country’s political malaise.

    We should be campaigning on this !

  • Nonconformistradical 1st May '22 - 3:33pm

    @Ruth Bright

    Perhaps the only person who might deserve any sympathy might be his wife…?

  • Ruth Bright 1st May '22 - 5:45pm

    @Noncomformistradical fair enough especially as she has probably had to sit through twelve years of tedious constituency events all for nought.

  • nigel hunter 1st May '22 - 6:01pm

    The HoC is a WORK PLACE. As such drinking ‘at work’ is a no no. Equally using a mobile phone distracts from the business at hand.THEY SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. Why do they need more than one bar? At the bar or bars tea and coffee can be served along with NON ALCOHOLIC beers ON DRAUGHT.A project on this is being looked at in West Yorkshire breweries. MPs are supposed to lead by example to the rest of us I see nothing wrong with the above thoughts.

  • I think he misbehaved, and then moved more swiftly than his party to bring the matter to an end. Hounding him or wanting him prosecuted now just looks vengeful. Leave him and his family be.
    And stop letting the Tories distract further with all this talk of ‘anti democratic’ local pacts … from the party that had an 80 seat majority on 42% of the vote (thanks to kippers standing down in many places too). Have never know the Tories nationally and locally to stoop so low.

  • Chris Moore 2nd May '22 - 9:24am

    All the vociferous critics of this individual will have done far worse things in their lives.

    He made a mistake; the kind and correct course of action would have been a private admonishment and a warning to reform his ways.

    I’m delighted there’s a winnable by-election. But the treatment of this individual has been disproportionate.

  • He shouldn’t be prosecuted, but it would be a sackable offence for most of us. Without knowing exactly what he was watching on at least two occasions, or how visible it was to others, it’s hard to comment on whether or not a private admonishment was appropriate, but probably not as it seems the MPs who saw the material are the ones who happened to be near him on those days. I’d be more sympathetic to the benefits of a quiet word if he’d been watching it on his own phone in his office.

    I have some sympathy, because being an MP involves a lot of hanging around, so doing stuff on your phone is not unreasonable, and sometimes trending twitter topics are spammed with dodgy material. I’m sure we’ve all googled something innocent only to discover something less so. But the choice to actually watch something in a busy work environment – at least twice – is on him.

    Based on what Parish himself said, it sounds as if he thought he’d be able to bluster his way through it until he met the wrath of his local party. I don’t know if they were angry that he did what he did, or angry that he got caught and brought shame on them. But the upshot is that they didn’t want to campaign for him come the next election.

  • Barry Lofty 3rd May '22 - 11:06am

    The trouble these days with the use of mobile phones is that people have got so hooked on them that they do not seem to be able to discern when it is an inappropriate time to use one.

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