Kemi Badenoch condemned the ‘puritanical’ sexual morality of millenials
Mrs Badenoch is a rising star, and was made a Conservative Party vice-chairman in Theresa May’s reshuffle earlier this month,
Millenials could be in the grip of “fits and seizures” about public conduct, she added.
Her remarks, in Parliament’s The House magazine, followed the outcry about alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour at Westminster.
Fresh allegations emerged when a former Commons researcher revealed she was nicknamed “Big T***s” by an MP.
Mrs Badenoch, who has a key role in overseeing the selection of Tory election candidates, told the magazine at her shock at how attitudes to sexual morality had changed in recent years.
Badenoch is a rising Tory star who has just been named a party vice-chairman
I’ve seen these sort of fits and seizures where everybody is interested in something and then they move on.
She said: “I remember having a discussion with someone and even what we thought was quite liberal is now seen as quite conservative and vice versa.
“Attitudes that we thought were quite conservative are now seen as being liberal. There’s almost a huge change that’s going on.
“So, for instance when I look at a lot of the stuff that you see on social media about how – I think it’s a generational thing as well – younger people look at appropriate behaviours and what is a sexual advance, what is sexual harassment and so on.
“To me, it’s actually becoming a lot more puritanical than anything I ever saw in my 20s or in my teens.”
Mrs Badenoch also spoke out recent criticism of the 1990s sitcom Friends, which has come under fire from some younger viewers watching for the first time for allegedly being sexist and homophobic.
“That, for me, is a very, very – it’s actually a puritanical position, which I think of as conservative. So, you can’t really put your finger on what is what these days.
“Friends was the biggest television series of all time. Everybody loved it, it was syndicated all around the world.
“The idea that in a few years people are talking about it as if it’s this horrific series, for me that just doesn’t compute.
“Something has gone wrong somewhere.
“I don’t know whether it’s just a fad where people are saying these things and then they’ll move on to something else or whether this is now a permanent thing.
Kemi Badenoch slammed criticism of hit TV show Friends
“I’ve seen these sort of fits and seizures where everybody is interested in something and then they move on.
“When I first got into politics, this is 2005, there was Live Aid and that was what everybody was talking about and then they sort of moved on from it.
“It was fashionable, they wore the bracelets, they went to the concert.
“I don’t know whether this is something like that, or whether this is something more profound and long lasting.”
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Former Parliamentary researcher Teresa Fitzherbert added to the deluge of allegations about MPs’ sexual misconduct.
Writing in Harper’s Bazaar about working in the Commons, she said: “At times I found the Palace of Westminster to be a petty, gossipy, sleazy place riddled with casual sexism.
“One MP referred to me as ‘Big T***s’ behind my back.
“Another introduced their new male researcher as ‘good, but his breasts aren’t as nice as the last one’s’.”
Mrs Badenoch also revealed that one of her first acts on taking on her job was to remove her husband Hamish Badenoch from the Tory candidate list.
Damian Green is the highest profile political figure to be caught up in the sexual harassment storm
“My first task as vice chair for candidates is kicking my husband off the candidates list.
“Even in that sort of scenario, people will say ‘oh they’re getting rid of Remainers’, because he was Remain and I was Brexit, or ‘he’s been removed because he’s a white public schoolboy’ or something.
“But actually, it’s just because there’s a conflict of interest if you’re on the candidates list and your wife’s head of candidates.
“I didn’t think that it would be appropriate. As long as I’m doing this role, I asked him if he minded just stepping off because I don’t want that to be part of the argument.”