‘He’s got to go’: anger in Tiverton as local MP Neil Parish faces porn claims | Conservatives

A few were prepared to give Neil Parish the benefit of the doubt pending the result of an inquiry. But most people in the Devon market town of Tiverton on Saturday had very little sympathy for their MP.

“He should just admit what he’s done and get out,” said Hannah Tucker, 32, a supermarket worker who was shopping with her husband, Liam. “The Tours are a joke. They get up to all sorts – and most of the time get away with it. They’ve to be stopped.”

Liam, a highways technician, said it was never acceptable to look at the sort of material Parish is alleged to have viewed in the workplace. “The scandals keep on coming. I’ll never vote Tory.”

Katy Oakley, 40, an ecologist, was walking through the town with her four-year-old daughter. “This sums up what everybody thinks about the government, another shocking incident in a long line.

“I think it shows just how out of touch members of the elite are with normal society. They think they can get away with things that ordinary people couldn’t.

“This isn’t brilliant publicity for our town—it puts Tiverton in a bad light. It’s not good for the country’s image abroad. And it’s not good for society.”

Katy Oakley. ‘I think it shows just how out of touch members of the elite are,’ said Oakley. Photograph: Jim Willeman/The Guardian

Thomas, a middle-aged man selling candy floss in the town’s historic pannier market, said his wife would murder him if she caught him watching pornography. “If it’s proved he’s done it, he’s got to go. He’s a member of our parliament and he has to have the respect to do it properly.”

The worrying thing for Thomas was that it did not come as a surprise. “To be honest, nothing surprises me now. That’s how bad it’s got.”

Although Parish lives on his farm across the border in Somerset, he is a well-known figure in Tiverton. He was first elected 12 years ago and since then has doubled his majority.

The Tory MP for North Devon, Selaine Saxby, said Parish had always been a loyal and supportive colleague. But she expressed shock: “Nobody wants to think of their MP sat on the green benches watching videos full stop, certainly not this kind of video.”

Husband and wife Liam and Hannah Tucker: 'The Tories are a joke.  They get up to all sorts.'
Husband and wife Liam and Hannah Tucker: ‘The Tories are a joke. They get up to all sorts.’ Photograph: Jim Willeman/The Guardian

Speaking on BBC Radio Devon, she also suggested he could be accident prone. “There isn’t a colleague that is more likely than Neil to have the kind of accident he has described. I think anyone who has slips of the finger or is a bit shortsighted as we get older will know the first thing we want to do is try to turn it off. That might involve peering at your phone quite intently.”

Gillian Evans, the chair of Tiverton and Honiton Conservatives, would not talk, referring to callers to Conservative HQ.

Happily for the Tories on Mid Devon district council, which is based in Tiverton, councillors are not up for election this spring. “I guess that’s a good thing,” said Ray Radford, a senior Conservative councillor who is also the council chair. “I don’t really know what to make of it,” Radford added. “It’s taken us all by surprise. As far as I’m aware he’s an honorable MP who’s served the constituency well. We’ll have to see what the inquiry shows.”

At the pannier market, wood turner Max Hall, 59, said it was simple. “If he is found guilty he should be sacked and if they can get back some of the money he’s been paid as an MP, they should. He seems to have shown a total lack of respect for everyone who has voted for him.”

Hall’s wife, Jane, 56, added: “When people are scrimping and scraping, he’s sat there apparently watching porn. He should be sacked but he’s got Boris as his role model. He was having a party when people were dying.”

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