Senior members of the Conservative party could learn a lesson from MP Neil Parish’s resignation, the independent leader of East Devon District Council (EDDC) says.
Joe Ives, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
Mr Parish, the former member for Tiverton and Honiton, officially resigned this week after it came to light that he watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting this week, council leader Paul Arnott (Independent East Devon Alliance and Democratic Alliance Group, Coly Valley) praised an interview with Mr Parish broadcast on BBC Politics South West last weekend.
Cllr Arnott said: “Long after all the tractor jokes have gone, this will remain as the tragic record of a broken man.
“It is not possible to condone what he did in the chamber of the House of Commons, but in his overnight decision to resign on Saturday morning [30 May] and that astonishingly frank interview he gave, Mr Parish leaves a long political career having at least abided by the best codes regarding resignation so blithely ignored by his superiors.”
Cllr Arnott said he had a “very busy weekend, receiving calls from all and sundry” after the news about Mr Parish broke last Friday afternoon [30 April].
At the EDDC meeting, Tory councillor Bruce De Sarem (Exmouth Littleham), read out a prepared statement from the leader of the local Conservative group, Cllr Colin Brown (Dunkeswell and Otterhead).
He said: “Neil Parish became MP for Tiverton and Honiton in 2010 with a majority of 9,000.
“In the following 12 years he was our MP, he increased that to over 24,000 proving what a good constituency MP he was, working tirelessly for the people of Tiverton and Honiton.
“We support Neil’s decision to apologise in the circumstances and resign as the member of parliament.”
In the BBC South West interview at the weekend, an emotional Mr Parish admitted watching pornography twice, first whilst looking for tractors and the second time deliberately. He called the latter a “moment of madness.”
While reiterating he was trying to be discreet, Mr Parish said what he did “was absolutely totally wrong.”
“I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I made a huge terrible mistake and I’m here to tell the world,” he added.
His friend, a Conservative councillor on Mid Devon District Council later claimed that Mr Parish may have been searching online for a ‘Dominator,’ a model of combine harvester, for his farm.