'Mafia-like' loyalty and a toxic 'power' culture: Ben Kentish's inside view on Westminster

2 July 2022, 12:02 | Updated: 17 April 2023, 11:25

Mafia-like loyalty, hierarchies, and a culture of silence: Ben Kentish on Parliament's scandals

By Tim Dodd

LBC's Westminster Editor Ben Kentish took listeners inside Parliament, as he described a "toxic culture of power... sexism, and silence".

It comes after the Conservative whip was suspended from MP Chris Pincher when an investigation was launched into allegations he drunkenly groped two men at a private members' club.

Mr Pincher dramatically quit as Tory deputy chief whip after the drunken incident, and Boris Johnson later bowed to pressure after a complaint about the MP was made to Parliament's watchdog that examines allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct

Addressing the latest Westminster scandal, Ben told listeners: "It's a problem about a systemic culture, it's a problem about a toxic culture of power, and the abuse of power, and the hierarchies in Westminster, and a culture of sexism and silence."

Admitting he spends "far too much time [in Parliament] than is healthy", Ben said it's a system that is "fundamentally broken".

"All professions and workplaces have wronguns to a degree, and Westminster's no exception, but to me there is a fundamental and specific issue," Ben said.

Read more: 'Double standards!': Neil Parish slams govt for not withdrawing whip from Chris Pincher

The Sun's Political Reporter Noa Hoffman speaks to LBC

"It's partly about the people that are attracted to politics by this heedy mix of power and public validation. But for me the bigger issue here is the culture that allows them to act on and get away with their shady intentions.

"This is a minority but it's a minority that is far too big, and yet even those decent MPs so often stay silent. Why? Because Westminster makes it so difficult to put their consciences first when they're working within a system that cajoles and convinces, and at times bullies them, into doing what the party leadership wants.

"If you ask me... Westminster would be a much better place if it wasn't for the party whips."

Ben said that Wesminster is "so tribal, it has this sort of Mafia-like loyalty", with fear and silence motivating MPs' responses to wrongdoing.

Read more: Tory whip quits post saying he 'drank too much' amid 'groping' allegations