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Nicola Sturgeon: Sexism put women off standing for council elections

First minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP found it more difficult than at any previous election to convince women to stand as candidates due to toxic misogyny on social media.

The first minister spoke days after it emerged Tory MP Neil Parish had watched pornography in the House of Commons.

A shocking 56 Westminster MPs are meanwhile facing accusations of sexual misconduct.

Ms Sturgeon said politics is not a “safe space” for women since members of the public can send them horrific abuse online with ease.

The SNP leader said she finds sexism and misogyny worse in politics today than when she first started out decades ago.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t think there’s a woman alive in any walk of life who will not have experienced somewhere on the spectrum of misogyny and sexism.

‘Societal problem’

“It’s a societal problem but there’s no doubt it can be worse in politics and in public life. In some ways I think it is worse today than it was when I was a woman starting out in politics.

“Women have been getting reduced to their body parts for as long as I can remember.

“Social media gives direct access in a way that didn’t exist when I was much younger.”

She added: “For somebody like me you become a bit inured to it. I see it much more starkly through the eyes of younger women.

“My party – and I think it will be the same for other parties – have found it more difficult than at any election that I can remember to encourage and persuade women to come forward, because there is a sense that politics is not a safe space.”

The first minister insisted yesterday she would not “shy away” from dealing with sexual harassment within her own party.

Several major parties including the SNP have been forced to address claims of misconduct within their ranks.

The SNP’s Patrick Grady is being investigated over allegations he groped two male researchers, while MP Patricia Gibson has been accused of making inappropriate remarks to a male staff member.

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