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How sexist is politics?

Rhoda Grant MSP:

"The LibDems have handled this badly. It's shocking that this kind of attitude still exists. You would have thought that this kind of behaviour would be gone by now. I would have thought it would not be tolerated any more. The Scottish Parliament is not 50:50 men and women. We need to actively encourage women until that happens. It's only then that we'll properly change these behaviours.''

Kezia Dugdale, Labour shadow education minister: "The culture is so different from Westminster and I don't think it would be tolerated here. I have certainly experienced everyday sexism in Holyrood. I was once in a lift with Bill Walker and Jenny Marra when he said: 'How nice it is to be in a lift with two lovely ladies!'"

Margaret Curran, former Labour MSP and now MP and shadow secretary of state for Scotland in Westminster: "When the Scottish Parliament was set up initially, there was quite a lot of articles about the way women looked, or them not being as good at debating and such like, and I remember a few of us thinking we can't have this - we need to strike early. And I think we largely succeeded.

''Harassment is the serious end of a spectrum of activity that can limit women's opportunities. Sometime this shows itself in other ways. Online is the new frontier. I'm quite shocked at language that's been used against me, about treatment you would never get at a meeting, words that are used, language that is used. Attitudes you thought were a thing of the past are now re-emerging."

Rosie Kane, former Scottish Socialist Party MSP, drew on her own experience during the trial of SSP leader Tommy Sheridan for perjury after he denied attending a swinger's club. The case split the party and many divisions fell along gender lines: ''These [LibDem] women suffer twofold. There is the original harassment, then the attack of having their stories analysed and talked about. The consequences for the women are huge. And that's a serious, destructive problem. The whole language being used is very similar to what was used back with us and Tommy Sheridan. I think I saw the word 'conspiracy', I think I even saw 'coven of witches'."

Eilidh Whiteford, SNP MP, who was the centre of a bullying controversy when she alleged MP Ian Davidson threatened that she "would be getting a doing": "The litmus test for all organisations is whether they take allegations of impropriety seriously and are willing to hold alleged perpetrators to account. It can take a lot of courage for those on the receiving end of unwanted advances to speak out."

Louise Mensch, former Conservative MP for Corby: "I'm not your girl. I was never sexually harassed. But I do think the Rennard case, if it's true, is to be taken very seriously. This is all is about power. What's particularly troubling about Rennard inviting girls back to his flat, candidates, and putting hands on their knees, is that Rennard controlled Liberal Democrat candidate selection. The allegation is incredibly serious. Because what they're saying is that he used his position of power as a guy who could say whether they became MPs to essentially harass them.

"Sexual harassment is really bad, but in my mind the more mundane reality sexism is the fact that on Saturdays MPs have to be working in their constituencies.

"If you want something that's preventing women from going into politics, it's the expectation that a Member of Parliament has to work all the hours God sends.

''When I once said I did not work on Saturdays because I saw my children, I was told by someone who will remain nameless: 'Well, something has got to give'."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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