Sex scandals have since time immemorial been meat and drink to the media. When the unredacted list of Conservative MPs who are allegedly guilty of sexual impropriety was published on social media, I made sure I looked at it. Much of it was nonsense - just unfounded gossip, some of which is potentially libellous. Some of the MPs listed were certainly guilty of being crass, whilst others really do have a case to answer. In short, it was what I expected. What concerns me most, though, is the damage all of this is doing to Parliament's reputation.
Parliament is still recovering from the 2009 expenses scandal. Then it was money. Now it's about sex and lurid behaviour. Eight years ago the party leaders did act decisively with those who had tarnished Parliament's reputation. Those who were found guilty of crimes were imprisoned. Unless the current party leaders wish this current scandal to run and run, they too need to act decisively.
They know who they are. Sending explicit text messages to teenage women and getting your secretary to buy sex toys for you tarnishes Parliament's reputation - indeed, it drags it through the mud. We expect our elected representatives, and those serving in the House of Lords, to act with the utmost propriety and have high personal standards. The two MPs in question are not guilty of crimes, but it doesn't mean that they should continue to hold the party whip. The whip should be withdrawn and they should stand down at the next election.
There are others, like Dan Poulter, who are facing much more serious allegations. They need to be investigated properly.
One MP who has stood out for me for all the right reasons is Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley. Although I probably disagree with her on most things politically, I like her straight talking, no-nonsense approach to politics. Some on the left sought to make political capital out of the Conservative Party's misery last week, but Jess Phillips has constantly reminded us that the harassment scandal has cast a shadow over all political parties - not just the Government. She wants Jeremy Corbyn to deal decisively with Labour MPs who have sexually harassed and assaulted researchers and party workers and volunteers. I wish there were more MPs like her.
Another MP who stood out for all the right reasons is Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire. He reported allegations about Dan Poulter to the whips office seven years ago. Nothing appears to have been done. It would have been very easy for him to sit back and do nothing, but instead he has made those allegations public so they can be properly investigated. Andrew Bridgen deserves our praise for the decision he made.
Gossip is forever flying around the corridors and the bars of Westminster. Gossip is one thing, but too many MPs are guilty of overstepping the mark; others are potentially guilty of breaking the law. It's time for a clear out. It's time to lance a few boils.