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The different kinds of abuse endemic in politics

Credit: PA

It has been another profoundly upsetting day in the unfolding scandal of sexual harassment and abuse in parliament and political parties.

Most shocking was the disclosure by the former member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, Bex Bailey, that in 2011 she was raped at a Labour event by someone in the party - and that when she summoned up the courage to tell a senior colleague, she was urged to keep quiet.

"I was told that if I did [report the alleged crime] it might damage me" she told Carolyn Quinn of the BBC.

Which is probably proof, if such were needed, that sexual abuse is a taint on the political system, and not on any one political party.

Separately my colleague at ITV News Paul Brand has interviewed a woman who was sexually assaulted by an MP while on a work trip - and that when she told the parliamentary authorities nothing was done.

The woman does not want to be named. But you can see her upsetting testimony on ITV's Evening News and News at Ten.

So if anyone thought that there was an unwarranted moral panic about abuse and harassment in our political system, such has presumably now been disproved.

That said, the frenzy of trying to find the perpetrators of the abuses is causing distress to women who tell me they should never have been put on a notorious spreadsheet, compiled by Tory researchers, that details alleged inappropriate behaviour by MPs and ministers (most of whom are men).

I am persuaded that some women are on that list of supposed shame who should never have been there. They know that large numbers of their colleagues have seen the list - which is being widely circulated in Westminster - and that is stressful and humiliating.

But the last thing any of them want is to give wider currency to the claims by publicly denying them - and so they are forced to live with the stress and shame of being the objects of mean-spirited gossip, but being powerless to do anything about it.

This is a different kind of abuse.