Janice Atkinson for The Daily Mail
6th August 2012
This morning Louise Mensch resigned her position as the MP for Corby in Northamptonshire leaving David Cameron with a nightmare by-election. Her reason for her resignation was to ‘spend more time with her family’. When MPs state this reason for leaving there is normally a nasty gremlin in the cupboard waiting to get out or the press have been tipped off of some mis-demeanour. In this case the reason for resignation just might be true.
She is a woman with a young family. The hours in the House of Commons are not conducive to family life, particularly if your husband is one of the world’s top rock band managers and lives in New York. Louise has children by her first marriage so her children are having to deal with divorce, a new step-father and a mother that has a job with one of the worst hours.
However, so do lots of other women who have demanding jobs. Most women who have got to the boardroom work equally long hours and make sacrifices. But the difference is that Louise is a millionairess in her own right. As a successful chick-lit author, she has sold millions of books under her name of Bagshaw.
So there is no comparison. Louise chose to go into politics and David Cameron shot her to the top of the candidate list. She was exactly the type of woman that he needed to detoxify the Conservative party. Youngish – but not too young to have had had a successful career (unlike Chloe Smith, now a Treasury Minister), good-looking, successful, a mother of young children, opinionated, energetic and political. Political is important, and it’s not a given – some MPs are not political at all; they have got there because they are back-bench fodder. Safe, selected by local Conservative associations because it’s buggins’s turn, not because of their intellect, but because they were councillors once and delivered lots of leaflets.
Her colleagues didn’t like her because she got publicity. She had something to say, whether it was Question Time, on Twitter or in the media. She was a great champion for Cameron. I disagreed with her on feminism, she claimed to be a feminist and wouldn’t recognise that the term had become toxic to most women. She admitted to ‘probably’ taking drugs in her youth, as many of her colleagues would have done too, but the difference is she was happy to talk about it as a taboo subject and admitted it messes with minds. We had more respect for her because she did. She tackled difficult issues and we admired her for it.
We were jealous when she got on the front page of GQ, we were all agog when she coyly refused to admit to a face lift and I even found myself peering behind her ears and hairline. If she had had a facelift then she should tell us the surgeon’s name as whoever did it is brilliant. Women hate her because she looks fantastic without make-up and is skinny. Women dislike her because she seemed to have it all – a rich and interesting husband and millions of her own.
Men hate her because the grey-suited, boring backbenchers jump up and down but rarely have anything interesting to say. Louise did. Men hate her because she was successful and made money.
Louise could afford childcare. If you are an MP who is a single mother with a northern constituency you would be hard-pressed to afford childcare. Louise could afford a helicopter to get her back and forth from Corby but she wouldn’t have been allowed to do it because of political correctness.
It is hard being an MP when your children live in the constituency. A prominent cabinet member was told at her selection meeting that she would only be selected as their MP if she moved her children to live in the constituency. She told me what a wrench it was. The children were in the constituency 100 miles away. At the time she was a shadow cabinet minister, who at weekends had party work, constituency work, media and shadow cabinet duties. She again was lucky, she sent her children to boarding school because she could afford it but it was still a sacrifice.
I am sure the pundits will tear her apart for her resignation. I am sure the women feminist Guardianistas will tear her apart for letting down the sisterhood whilst at the same time saying they’r e glad she’s gone as she was a nasty right-winger. I am sure the older, unreconstructed Conservative men will tear her apart because she was a woman. I am sure Conservative HQ will be slammed for selecting someone like Louise. I am sure Dave will be tearing out his thinning hair because she has caused a by-election in mid-term.
The by-election will be hard fought. She had a majority of 1500 and Labour is already in campaign mode. However, the people of Corby should think long and hard about what they want from their MP. Do they want Labour fodder with Ed Miliband glowing in the dark from possible victory? The Lib Dems will be kicked into touch and quite rightly so. The battle should be between Dave and Farage. The people of Corby chose a maverick in Louise and they can choose one again. Come on Nigel, stand in this constituency and make our day. This by-election should be about who stands up for our country. This is Farage’s chance to talk about UKIP’s policies on education, defence, tax, the economy, gay marriage, not just about Europe.
I’m sad to see Louise go because she was a woman with courage, who had opinions, was media-savvy, was a successful author and she was an alternative and acceptable face of Conservatism.
Good luck Louise, have a super time in New York with your new husband and hope the kids settle well and …. PS could I have a couple of tickets for the Red Hot Chili Peppers please?