INCREDIBLE, really, the power of a set of legs. Enough to destabilise government, if you listen to some.

According to an anonymous lecherous Tory backbencher, who was no doubt rubbing his thighs and drooling as he planted the story, Angela Rayner has been using feminine trickery to distract Boris Johnson during PMQs by crossing and uncrossing her legs. "A fully clothed Basic Instinct" move, apparently.

As if the prime minister didn't have enough to occupy his mind, trying to work out the definition of a party and keeping an active tally of all his children, he also has to contend with a woman wearing a skirt.

That's one of the many kickers of this story - while it sounds like she's rocking up to work in disco shorts and a sequin boob tube, Ms Rayner is, in fact, wearing smart business attire in the House of Commons.

She's just wearing a knee length skirt and a suit jacket. But when it comes to clothes and public life, women can't win.

There is a relentless double standard that will always say we're too modest or too revealing, too attention seeking or too plain. Trousers are too unfeminine yet, no matter how powerful you are, if you wear a skirt you're asking to be leered at.

Just look at the coverage of the meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May in 2017 - "Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it" next to a photograph of the first minister and prime minister in skirts.

Absolutely no one wins with the Angela Rayner story. The newspaper which printed it looks appalling; the MP who leaked the 'story' looks like a creep who doesn't trust the prime minister or like women; Ms Rayner has the tedious task of having her attention wasted on dealing with the aftermath of it.

It falls down on every level of scrutiny. For one thing, it's hardly flattering to the prime minister that one of his own MPs thinks he's unable to keep a clear head when faced with a female knees. Accusing women of using their bodies for underhand manipulation is such an offensive, pathetic trope.

And then rank classism and snobbery of it all is grim. This is a vain attempt to put Angela Rayner in her place because she doesn't have the same educational background as Boris Johnson, his "Oxford Union debate training".

It's no new phenomenon, the suggestion that a woman in a promoted position must have used her sexuality to get ahead. Ms Rayner is being targeted because she left a state school without going straight on to university, because she had her first son at 16 and because she was a granny in her late 30s. She's also Northern, rather than part of the London elite.

She is a fearful proposition - a woman who has thrived despite difficulty. Who has achieved the same and more as men who have had every advantage of the good fortune of being born into money and gifted a private education. No wonder weaker members of the opposing party are quaking.

These rich boys must wonder what they would have achieved without unearned advantage and feel how small they are.

At the last session of Glasgow City Council earlier this month councillors held a debate about how to encourage more women into politics. It's not hard to see why women are turned off. Who would volunteer for this ridiculous scrutiny?

To work all the long hours that men work but, as additional labour on top of it all, to have to field sexist and misogynist scrutiny of your life choices and behaviour and to have to deal with the abuse that comes alongside it.

Not only that extra work, but you're also expected to challenge stereotypes and speak out against sexism, and get involved in feminist campaigning. Exhausting.

There was a chap bellowing down the line at Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday, insisting that women need to take responsibility for modestly covering themselves up and not distracting men.

You hear tell of people roaming among us with these unreconstructed, embarrassing views but you never actually think you're going to have to engage with them in real life, and certainly not before breakfast.

It's a certain kind of bold, to be comfortable going live on national radio and freely admitting to pulsing with distracting lust at the sight of a bare ankle.

Do these lads never stop to think that if they can't control their thoughts on sight of a female knee the problem is perhaps not with the owner of said knee?

Unremarkable men feel threatened by women's advancement and that fundamental insecurity comes out as a distrust of women and their motives. In politics the problem isn't with women's clothing, it's with the mediocre male members.