Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Tackling Harassment in Parliament

By Christian Coleman

British politics continues to be complex and controversial as it makes national and international headlines. In particular, Caroline Nokes, a member of the U.K. Parliament serving Romsey and Southampton North, has an unwavering commitment to public service. Before emerging on the political landscape, she completed her education at the University of Sussex, earning a degree in Politics and International Relations. During Nokes’s time at Sussex, she joined the university’s Conservative Party, engaging in grassroots activism, eventually leading to her first election victory in 2010 in the House of Commons. Serving as a Councillor on Test Valley Borough Council, Nokes managed to hold the position of Portfolio Holder for Leisure. Nokes has always possessed the determination and dedication to serving constituents in the Romsey Extra Ward lasting between 1999 and 2011. 

Nokes’s political career is filled with notable achievements and contributions such as serving as chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee and her appointment as the Minister of State for Immigration in 2016. Looking ahead in recent years, Nokes has been committed to tackling sexual harassment inside of the nation’s Parliament. Criticizing notable British political figureheads such as previous Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Nokes argues that his previous appointments were based on gender rather than competency. This can be seen in Johnson’s previous policies concerning the coronavirus pandemic, his cabinet proportions, and his lack of exposure to women due to his all-male education. With women repeatedly overlooked in the sphere of politics, it led to the former prime minister’s sexist and racist remarks during his tenure as a “blokey mentality.” For example, childcare advocacy was repeatedly shot down during the initial pandemic lockdown leading to the conclusion that women are needed to advocate for women and children rather than putting “the man” first. Johnson’s lack of representation in his cabinet can be seen in both his first and second ministries. 

Only ¼ of 33 cabinet members in the former were women. As Nokes calls out his lack of feminism, she has expressed that the revelation of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault claims during his tenure after the killing of Sarah Everad, a woman kidnapped on March 3, 2021, while walking home, did not come as a shock. Recently, Nokes has continued her advocacy against violence towards women with recent claims of sexual harassment from Daisy Goodwin against Conservative mayoral Daniel Korski from 2013. The incident took place during a meeting on 10 Downing Street where he groped her. While denying the allegations against the novelist and TV producer, Korski’s behavior of being unable to control his impulses around women have come to light during his current campaign, before pulling out of the race. As a supporter of Goodwin, Nokes has made the effort of raising questions about the lack of zero-tolerance policies for inappropriate behavior towards women. Questioning whether a woman is making false accusations has not crossed Nokes mind as “women do not make mistakes when they know a man has touched their breast.” Current complaints in the U.K.’s parliament are dealt with all too slowly.

British political parties have been presented with numerous opportunities to step up to the plate and advocate for their female counterparts. One of those opportunities included introducing a policy tackling the issue of Class A drugs in the work environment and the effect it has on men towards women, engaging in harassment. Calling for the need to speed up anti-harassment policies has been nothing short of an uphill battle, even with formal complaints to cabinet officers. As Nokes continues to be a voice for all women, it can’t be ignored that she’s met with heavy criticism from within the Conservative Party and the public eye. But this has yet to quiet her voice in a male-dominated career. 

Caroline Nokes continues to be a resilient force as a member of the U.K. Parliament representing Romsey and Southampton North. Nokes’s achievements in women’s rights and immigration continue to impact the island nation while serving her constituents and contributing to political discourse. Outside of her political career, Nokes had served as the Chief Executive of the National Pony Society, committed to the prosperity of Britain’s native breeds of pony originating from her constituency of the South Western corner. As a prominent advocate of addressing sexual harassment in the political workspace continues to make headways, her determination for inclusivity and fairness doesn’t go unnoticed.


Hey, I’m Christian and I’m currently a graduate student in Washington, D.C.  I’m most passionate about advocating for mental health, increasing access to higher education, and promoting equality in the workplace. Outside of education and advocacy I’m an avid book reader, traveler, and coffee lover!

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