Reasons to be glad Louise Mensch has gone:
1) She was a cheerleader for Cameron and Murdoch. While one expects support for the PM from any Tory to some degree, Mensch’s cheerleading was often in flagrant disregard of the facts and certainly had the appearance of being one of two things: either entirely self-serving from a career point of view, or loyal to the point of blindness. There are so many examples of this, it is hard to know which to give, but Mensch’s loud congratulation of David Cameron for singlehandedly liberating Libya springs to mind, or Mensch’s claim that the government was supporting poorer women when they removed some child benefits from wealthier families, while glossing over the cuts to child and baby tax credits, Surestart allowances and Surestart centres, per Yvette Cooper’s blinder of a response here:
2) In fact, I might as well re-use the above link to make my second point: I will never dispute the right of any woman to call herself a “feminist”, but there are feminists who progress the cause, feminists who Frank Spencer their way through it, occasionally elbowing other feminists in the eye, and, strangely, feminists who wear the t-shirt but whose behaviour actively undermines feminism. Alas, Mensch falls into the last category. Mensch has thrown all her weight into supporting a government whose cuts have consistently and disproportionately affected and harmed women.
3) The relentless self-publicity engine. Mensch has appeared on virtually every television news organ to speak about virtually any topic going. Murdoch, Hunt, drugs, internet trolls, her imagined scenario of shutting down Twitter during riots; whether or not she’d had plastic surgery; glossed-up publicity shots alongside complaints that women MPs are so often judged on their looks. Every news item was turned into an opportunity to treat ourselves to Louise Mensch’s opinion.
The most recent “look at me” squawking was her calling for the Labour Party to condemn anybody who expressed approval or joy when Thatcher dies. Thatcher has not yet died. Nobody has therefore reacted to her death, and any such reactions are potential, projected … dare I say imaginary. One would have thought that this one-woman campaign against something that hasn’t actually happened would be unusual, but from Mensch, it’s just what you do on a slow news day.
4) Which brings me to my last reason, which is not really to do with Louise Mensch, but to do with her party. Mensch is not terribly bright, but she is loud and she is news-grabby, she’s undisputably beautiful, and she was as fawningly loyal to David Cameron as Malfoy’s house-elf was to Daddy Malfoy. I have spent the last few years watching her get shot down on Twitter – not by trolls or insulters, though lord knows she dealt with many of those – but by anyone in possession of the facts and figures. It has made me despair. If she is one of the loudest and most omnipresent female Conservative MPs (and there is no doubt she is), what hope for Tory women in politics? The Conservative party has – I’ve no doubt – some superb women in it, but seems less inclined to appoint women to positions on merit, where “merit” means “have checked that they are good at their job”, as opposed to “are female and prepared to take a kicking for the team”. One doesn’t need to look very far for other examples of this (Chloe Smith springs to mind, Theresa May – a solid politician whether you like her or not – was hung out alone to dry at this year’s Police Conference). In fact Cameron seems quite cheerful about letting anyone, of any sex, into unsuitable positions, but while Coulson, Hunt, Gove et al – each uniquely unsuited for the role they were given – don’t damage the male cause (because male politicians are the default), and are given support when it is needed, putting unsuited women into positions where they are guaranteed to fail, and then failing to support them as they do, is a trademark of a party whose approach is sexist to the core.
While it is unfortunate for the women who get trapped in the situation where they’re advanced because they are women rather than because they are good, it is devastating for women in politics to have women advanced beyond their capacity, just so a party has a few girls to break up the front row. It fuels the old fire of “well, look at what a mess so-and-so made of this” / “women just aren’t any good”. It gives the Old Boys something to snigger about and confirms their prejudices. The sad thing is, there are tons of women out there who the Conservatives could benefit from and celebrate as party members, MPs or Cabinet members, if only they took women candidates seriously enough to select the right ones, and then provide them with support. Oh – and if only they didn’t have such openly sexist policies that no right-thinking woman would want to join.
Reasons to be sad Louise Mensch has gone:
1) No, I’m struggling. All the best, Louise.