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Louise Mensch; A Foam Pie in The Face of Criticism

May 2, 2012

Equality is too important to be used as a detachable beard.

For a solid eight hours yesterday – and a few besides this morning – Louise Mensch went around every television studio that would have her, grasped every microphone on every lawn around Whitehall and voiced her support for Rupert Murdoch. She expressed sadness that, in her view, the Culture Media and Sports Select Committee’s report had been hijacked by highly partisan considerations. She ensured this was the case by airing her own highly partisan considerations and shoving them down our throat like aspirin – every hour on the hour.

In the afternoon, she stated repeatedly on BBC News that “Rupert Murdoch is a great newspaper man and obviously fit to run a major company.” She berated the majority of the Committee who had found that Murdoch was “not fit”, stating that the Committee had not heard “one iota of evidence” on the subject of fitness. In short, she had heard enough evidence objectively to come to the conclusion that Rupert Murdoch was “obviously fit”, but the only way her colleagues could have come to a different conclusion was via a process of partisan consideration.

Challenged on the fact that one of the MPs voting for the conclusion was a Liberal Democrat, the party currently in coalition with Mensch’s own, drew the dismissal that the MP in question is a “very left-wing” Liberal Democrat.

Perhaps she realised how incongruous her statements were because by the time Newsnight came around, she dropped the “obviously fit to run a major company” and just kept the “great newspaper man” bit. Although, tellingly, she still described Rupert Murdoch as Labour’s “target”. She said (14 minutes into the programme): “Labour have shot themselves in the foot, by taking a report that could have been quite damaging to their target and making it partisan and essentially worthless”. Nothing partisan about that statement, right?

Mensch made it quite clear that, had it not been for that one finding, the Conservatives would have voted for recommending the report to the House. To clarify then, they agree that Rupert Murdoch gave “a misleading account of his involvement and influence with his newspapers” [para.228 of the report] they agree that “Corporately, the  News of the World and News International misled the Committee” and that “its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies’ directors—including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch—should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility” [para.275 of the report]. However, in Louise Mensch’s mind, this adds up to being “obviously fit to run a major company”.

Other senior Conservatives threw their weight behind this utterly ludicrous proposition today. William Hague went on Radio 5 live to say “They are great business people, let us be clear about that. Of course people who run big businesses around the world are very capable people and they all have their charming ways, and they all have their downsides as well.” How silly we have been to insist on corporate governance rules… The thing is self-evident. Res ipsa loquitur. The fact that one is in charge of a large corporation is evidence they must be fit to do so.

Justifiably, Louise Mensch came in for heavy criticism in traditional and social media.  By last night it must have been patently clear that the majority of clear-thinking people rejected her incongruous logic. Questions were asked; legitimate questions about why she was choosing to dominate the news cycle with what appeared to be a love letter to the Murdochs: Was this simply an expression of her ambition for a Cabinet position?  Was it a silent plea to News Corp, following the revelations about Jeremy Hunt, to stop shafting her party? Was it an oblique application for future work from someone who makes a chunk of their living from writing (and whose sister is published by Murdoch-owned Harper Collins)? 

Many thousands expressed their disgust and indignation on twitter. Amongst those thousands were a hefty proportion of idiots who attacked Mensch in heavily misogynistic, offensive, utterly unacceptable terms. This provided an ideal opportunity to avoid having to answer any of the questions being asked. She grabbed it with both hands.

She started to document these offensive tweets under the hashtag #feminism – many were not directed @ her; she had to search for them. “Women too often shamed into silence. Sod it.”, she reflected. By this afternoon, the wave of condemnation had largely turned into sympathy. Eight hours after she appeared on Sky News to say that “as far as I’m concerned [Rupert and James Murdoch] are in the clear”, she was getting messages of congratulations like “Well done to @LouiseMensch for standing up to the powerful.” And nobody seems to notice the irony. Nobody seems to notice the cynical deception.

Messages of support included one from fellow Conservative MP Nadine Dorries who said “Today’s depressing Twitter misogyny has been recorded for posterity by @LouiseMensch“. This was less than an hour after the very Nadine Dorries had criticised a female journalist by saying “And than from a woman (Alice Thompson) who runs around wearing a pony tail she really should have thought twice about twenty years ago.”

And nobody seemed to notice the hypocrisy. Or perhaps people did, but pushed their keyboard away, deciding it was too risky to criticise a female MP. Because the net result of what Mensch did was to silence her critics on the substantive issues. By overstating her case, quite deliberately, she created the impression that anyone disagreeing with her views did so on the basis of her sex.

Am I saying that cyber-bullying should be tolerated? Am I saying that addressing misogyny and any kind of discrimination is not important? Quite the opposite. I am saying that these issues are too important to be deployed as political diversions whenever it suits an MP. I am saying that I resent their dishonest and opportunistic use.

And how do I know that their use in this instance is dishonest and opportunistic? Because, if Louise Mensch were serious about such issues, she would not be sitting on the benches of a party the policies of which disproportionately punish women and make thousands of them unemployed every month. She would not be voting for legislation which clobbers on a daily basis the disabled, the old, the sick, the foreign, the different; every minority in this country. She would not be supporting a powerful man who had made his fortune by illegally obtained gossip, innuendo and the objectification of women. She would not be cheering on a Prime Minister who dismisses a woman parliamentarian of 30 years experience with “calm down dear”.

Rupert Murdoch appeared in front of the Committee as a powerful media tycoon with serious questions to answer regarding the corruption of the Media, our politicians and the police. One foam pie later and he was a frail old man, the victim of a vicious attack. He was that, too. It is important to deal with the attacker. It is important to condemn the attack with no reservations. But in the end, after the foam has been wiped away, there remains a powerful media tycoon with serious questions to answer.

And so it is with Mensch. I sympathise with her as a human being who was the target of abuse. I send her the warmest of cuddles and a friendly cup of tea. I support the strongest of statement that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and it must stop. But ultimately, as a democratically elected representative of this country, as a powerful spokeswoman for her party, I expect her to wipe the foam from her face and answer the questions.

75 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2012 6:40 pm

    Excellent work, Alex. Love this post. Hiding behind the word feminism is unacceptable. Louise Mensch needs to stand up and take responsibility for herself, her statements and her politics.

  2. david bartlett permalink
    May 2, 2012 6:47 pm

    Genius, and right on the money as always. Thank you Sturdblog!

  3. keeshond permalink
    May 2, 2012 6:54 pm

    No juror would have been allowed to suddenly leave a trial to pick up their children. But I remember Louise Mensch doing exactly that in the middle of the Committee session, causing inconvenience and surprise to some other members, including the urbane Chairman John Whittingdale.

    Maybe the tweet that really offended Ms Mensch was the one trending as follows:-

    Louise Mensch [defends] Rupert Murdoch [who owns] HarperCollins [who publish] Tilly Bagshawe [whose sister is]
    Louise Mensch.

    No comment about that rather interesting coincidence is highlighted in the extracts from her twitter page with which The Daily Telegraph is no doubt hoping to disgust its readers, I notice.

    • Kiru permalink
      May 2, 2012 10:25 pm

      To be fair, neither the jury system nor Parliament have developed to meet the needs of jurors or parliamentarians who are the primary caregivers of children. Which is a feminist issue in spite of however Louise Mensch chooses to act.

      • Deb permalink
        May 4, 2012 12:59 pm

        Its a parental issue, not a feminist one. Sometimes Dads need to collect their children from school too!

  4. defytheeconomy permalink
    May 2, 2012 6:59 pm

    Reblogged this on defytheeconomy and commented:
    Also true – this is the ‘how’ for the post I wrote….

  5. May 2, 2012 7:00 pm

    Absolutely right. I wish people would think about the results of their actions before they tweet or blog or speak. When someone has said something very stupid, as she did, it is the ideal way out for them to grab an equally stupid response and run with it. She’s now a bit of a heroine (or possibly a hero) and she’s got away with a stupid remark.

    As for Nadine joining in… pfffff. I think we can more of less ignore that for all the reasons you stated. If these people feel so strongly about minorities of any sort, what on earth are they doing in the Tory party?

  6. May 2, 2012 7:01 pm

    Great post. You make all the points clearly and I couldn’t have put it better myself. I agree entirely. The abuse she got was disgusting, yet, the whole of the report (minus the sentence under dispute) implies that Murdoch is not fit to run his own company, so the position of the Conservatives in my opinion is untenable.

  7. May 2, 2012 7:01 pm

    Excellent Alex.
    Like the Daily Mail and their use of “the web” to get their message out, LM is as clever as they come in using and abusing the social-media-sphere.

    But no one can criticise her now…

  8. maria barnes permalink
    May 2, 2012 7:12 pm

    Er, so what are you saying? Louise Mensch has no right to object to violent, threatening tweets because she’s a ‘not-very-nice-person’ who’s part of a government who have policies that lead to women being on the dole queue. What ridiculous logic.

    As you will know only too well she wasn’t the only one objecting… This is part of a larger issue of online abuse towards women, but Louise Mensch got it worse because she defended Rupert Murdoch. I don’t care who she defends, no one deserves that kind of abuse.

    The most laughable part of this article is that you suggest that people ‘pushed their keyboards’ and held back from abusing Louise Mensch! Er, don’t think so. Andneither do they need to… Do you really think people are so stupid that they can’t distinguish between a tweet along the lines of ‘I’d like to smash Louise Mensch in the face with a hammer,’ and something that isn’t violent, threatening and laced with gender violence. Are people on twitter so unintelligent that they can’t send civilised tweets?

    Sorry , but this article might please all the left wingers who hate the woman, (don’t let it go to your head, they’ve been waiting for an article like yours for 24 hours… it could be Jeffrey Archer bad and they’d still love it) but it’s one big fail when it comes to dealing with online misogyny, which you’ve just given a big fat free pass.

    • May 2, 2012 7:18 pm

      I am saying nothing of the sort, but I am grateful for your comment.

      • maria barnes permalink
        May 3, 2012 6:11 am

        I appreciate your second reply below (below) There was no opportunity below to respond to that comment, so I’ve put it here. YOU SAID…

        A significant chunk of that “hard time”, however, emanates from Murdoch’s press and other rags which have copied his ethos and politicians like Cameron who are casually dismissive, belittling and unfair to women (and whose cabinet includes more male graduates from one Oxford College – Magdalen – than women). Both were being actively propped up by Louise Mensch yesterday.
        I wish you would recognise your enemy, regardless of their sex.

        1. Everything but the last line seems to be you telling me WHY Louise Mensch had done X, Y and Z and therefore has lesser rights to complain, or be complained on behalf off. I strongly object to this point which is the core of your article. All women (and men) have rights, regardless of whether you like what they stand for.

        2. Your last line is deeply assumptive and deeply patronizing. Firstly, you have assumed that I agree with Mensch because I am defending her treatment, and objecting to your article. (Not surprising, given what I have said above) Mistake… I hate Murdoch. I don’t buy his papers. I do not – and never have – voted Conservative. (I agree with all your political points) It’s sad that I have to point any of this out, or that you have assumed I shared any of Louise Mensch’s views, but I think that’s the core problem of your article… I repeat, All women (and men) have rights, regardless of whether you like what they stand for, and they do not lose them if they express views that you don’t like or that seem contradictory.

      • May 3, 2012 8:11 am

        And we’re back to my very first reply, Maria. I will not defend things I didn’t say. At no point did I suggest that Louise Mensch does not have a right to feel aggrieved at the abuse she has endured. I merely suggested it is wicked to use it as a diversionary tactic in order to stifle other important issues on which she ought to be accountable. I can’t be any clearer about it.

      • May 3, 2012 8:17 am

        So after all this has been aired, is Mensch going to answer the questions or continue to obfuscate until we are all bored to death by the transparent shallowness of political endeavour and self-interest?

      • Chris permalink
        May 3, 2012 8:32 am

        Maria – with the greatest respect, and I know you won’t like hearing this (again), but… *did* you read the article? All the way through?

        I only ask because your entire point seems to be based around something the author didn’t say.

        I actually agree with a lot of what you’ve said, but it’s mostly irrelevant to this article. There seems to be a lot of reading between lines that aren’t there.

    • May 2, 2012 8:06 pm

      Yeah…. At no point did Alex say any of that.

      He said that the fact that she was abused by some idiots doesn’t make her incorrect point suddenly right. He said that people pushed their keyboards away and held back from legitimately challenging Mensch on a point she put forward. He specifically condemned the idiocy that went on, but said that she couldn’t use that to back up a flawed argument.

      Sounds pretty damn fair to me.

    • James permalink
      May 2, 2012 8:08 pm

      Did you actually read this post maria?

      I only ask because it specifically calls the offensive misogynist attacks “utterly unacceptable”.

      The entire point of the post is that by pointing to these “utterly unacceptable” tweets, Louise Mensch gets to dodge legitimate criticism of her untenable position on Murdoch. How did you miss that?

      • maria barnes permalink
        May 2, 2012 9:02 pm

        I didn’t miss anything!

        You say the author has condemned those ugly misogynistic tweets? Really? I think he has inserted one token line which was followed up by an argument that would make those trolls feel vindicated because they targeted a ‘nasty’ Murdoch loving women who deserved it.

        PS: damn good point Cuthbert Gaddabout… New Labour has been partying/justifying/courting the Murdoch press for years. The fact they’ve gone quiet now just shows what cowards and hypocrites they are.

      • maria barnes permalink
        May 2, 2012 9:08 pm

        James: I’ve noticed that when people have very little argument they say something along the lines of. ‘Did you read it…’ Why do you do this? It’s patronizing and unnecessary. You know very well I read the article because I specifically referred to parts of the article in my response.

      • James permalink
        May 2, 2012 9:52 pm


        “Did you read it…” is a pretty transparent rhetorical device used to point out that someone has created their own straw man and attacked that rather than the post they are commenting on.

        Let’s compare…

        sturdy said the bullying/offensive/misogynistic attacks were “utterly unacceptable”…he has an entire paragraph saying that cyber-bullying should not be tolerated and that addressing misogeny and discrimination are important…and he spent half of the final paragraph (what you might call the “conclusion”) sympathising with Mensch and stating this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and must stop.

        (Note please: that is considerably more than “one token line”)

        You started your comment with “Er, so what are you saying? Louise Mensch has no right to object to violent, threatening tweets…”

        (Sorry for shouting, but…) WHERE DOES HE SAY THAT? How did you get the impression that was what was meant? How could you read that post, with all its criticism of the offensive behaviour, and conclude that sturdy thought Louise Mensch has no right to object to something he himself is objecting to?

        Here’s what happened:
        1) Person A made an argument
        2) Group B questions Person A’s argument
        3) Group C attacks Person A personally
        4) Person A points to attacks from Group C, fails to address questions from Group B
        5) Person D criticises Group C for their behaviour, and says Person A is using that behaviour it to ignore legitimate questions from Group B
        6) You imply Person D has defended the behaviour of Group C

        Can you see where I think your logic fails?

      • maria barnes permalink
        May 2, 2012 10:46 pm

        James, shall we try this again? Ok, here I go…

        Point 1: Louise Mensch is a Conservative. Louise Mensch is part of a government that is seeing female unemployment rise. Louise Mensch is rather unpopular on twitter and pretty much everywhere in the media because she is supporting Murdoch. Those are her positions and she has EVERY right to them, no matter how repulsive you feel they are. Ok, are we in agreement at this point? Ok, I’ll proceed.

        Point 2: None of point 1 justifies Ms Mensh from being on the receiving end of tweets such as, ‘I would like to hit Louise Mensch in the face with a hammer.’

        Ok… I think we’re still with each other (and the author is with me at this point too). (deep breath). Ok, now…

        Point 3: Where is the hypocrisy that the author accuses Mensch of? To me, hypocrisy would be if Louise Mensch was sending abusive tweets before raising her head to object to them when she was the victim. Is the author saying that Louise Mensch is an anti-feminist? This may be true, but does that mean she cannot object to misogynistic and violent tweets, and even use the term feminism if she feels that this is the correct term and applies to her?

        Point 4: What evidence has the author got that people were silenced in criticizing Louise Mensch on her Conservative/Murdoch loving views? The only tweets that were named and shamed were the violent/aggressive tweets. Surely this is a good thing? It’s pure conjecture on the author’s part that anyone else was thwarted (or pushed their keyboards away), and if they were that’s their responsibility not Louise Mensch’s who never objected to general criticism of her. The piece states that Louise Mensch…’created the impression that anyone disagreeing with her views did so on the basis of her sex.’ No she didn’t. She merely stated the facts; that she was receiving a lot of abusive tweets. If the author received another impression that’s his responsibility, but I would expect some proof of this statement.

        Point 5: The author has twinned Louise Mensch’s objection to the sexist tweets (an objection that was shared by many feminists across twitter, including Grace Dent and Beatrix Campbell) with some kind of repression of genuine criticism of Louise Mensch bcause she was a female politician! Not true and again absolutely no evidence for this, and actually rather patronizing to boot. (How much abuse has Anne Widdicombe taken over the years? Has anyone stood up and said, don’t ridicule her, she’s a female politician?) Criticize away twitter, just don’t call anyone a bitch, whore and state you’d like to hit her with a hammer because you don’t agree with them.

      • maria barnes permalink
        May 2, 2012 11:00 pm

        That’s all from me folks. It’s very hard to have a proper debate on a blog where almost all the respondents are like-minded partisan folk patting the author on the back. I could tap away until I was blue in my fingers, but is there any point? Apparently we all agree that vile twitter abuse is wrong… I just hope no one on here (including the author) is carrying some false belief that female politicians are, have been or will ever be able to manipulate soft treatment. It’s a constant struggle for women in politics and many other areas of public life, with much online abuse…

      • May 2, 2012 11:14 pm

        Again, I am grateful for your input. I understand your concerns and am under no illusions about how hard a time women in politics have.

        A significant chunk of that “hard time”, however, emanates from Murdoch’s press and other rags which have copied his ethos and politicians like Cameron who are casually dismissive, belittling and unfair to women (and whose cabinet includes more male graduates from one Oxford College – Magdalen – than women). Both were being actively propped up by Louise Mensch yesterday.

        I wish you would recognise your enemy, regardless of their sex.

    • david bartlett permalink
      May 2, 2012 10:14 pm

      Maria, I suggest you have deliberately chosen to mis-interpret this post entirely to feed some desperate need to further your own fanaticism. Anyone reading this blog, and certainly anyone familiar with the historical blogs of Sturdy Alex, would surely realise that the author is a staunch defender of minorities and a staunch vilifier of prejudice. His position has always been consistently progressive. Your conclusion following this latest intelligent thesis suggests either a prejudice against the blog or just plain illiteracy.

    • May 2, 2012 10:27 pm

      “Are people on twitter so unintelligent that they can’t send civilised tweets?”

      No. Many did. Unfortunately they were neatly side-stepped with the help of those who clearly WERE too unintelligent to do so—those who Alex quite rightly and unmistakably condemned, many times over in this article.

      That you would deem this to be a “free pass” for mysogeny is staggering. You are right that all too often, responses questioning whether someone read an article are lazy and patronising, but in this case I can sympathise with James, as it baffles me how you could so drastically distort what was written here.

  9. May 2, 2012 7:16 pm

    This is an excellent piece on how the snake slithers and how our politicians consistently turn voters off by there ability to be ruthlessly opportunistic and self centered. Louise is only feminist when it suits her and cyber bullying seems to be the in vogue excuse at the moment to slither your way out the least bit of controversy.

  10. Cuthbert Gaddabout permalink
    May 2, 2012 7:18 pm

    Right, nice rant..

    Trouble is I don’t think any of the political parties come out of the Murdoch affair smelling of roses. I mean Tony Blair was pretty close to Murdoch as was Brown (and his hench man Tom Watson – who has just happenes to have brought out a book on the subject which he is punting around trying to sell)

    And as for Murdoch being fit to run a company. Lets not all get too self righteous here. ALL the main newspapers have indulged in hacking and using Private Detectives. Including the left wing Mirror and the holier than thou Guardian. Where did the Wiki leaks stuff come from in the Guardian. Or is it ok if you are shafting the Americans as they are the great satans.

    The flipping lot of them are corrupt. The MSM and the politicians. They all feed off each other like parasites. So lets be honest and upfront and admit they are all as bad as one another. Not pretend that Murdoch is wicked and evil and all the other newspapers are perfect. ‘Cause they ‘aint.

    And as for Louise Mensch. She irritates me very much indeed. Particuarly the way she is Dave Camerons ‘mini me’. Going round sucking up to him all the time. But Mensch has done nothing worse than Peter Mandelson or any of the Labour luvie MP’s under Blair and Brown who went sucking up to Uncle Rupert (and assorted other oligarchs) .

    As I say – the whole lot of them are corrupt and disgust me. But lets not single out Mensch and Murdoch for special treatment – they all deserve our disgust

    • May 3, 2012 7:45 am

      well spoken Cuthbert, except that the whole tribe of the Murdochs and the Mensches should most definitely be singled out for special treatment. whatever song they sing at party conferences, whatever flag they wave as they open abbatoirs and supermarkets, whatever perfume or aftershave they wear in the MSM TV studios while they help prepare the nation’s couch potatoes for their invigorating nocturnal repose, all these people are dangerous psychopaths. and they will twist and turn every way, use every stratagem of cunning hypocrisy to maintain their imposture of legitimacy.

  11. lightacandle permalink
    May 2, 2012 7:41 pm

    That third to last comment says it all for me – and should be repeated far and wide.

    As for Mr Hague – did he really say that!

    “They are great business people, let us be clear about that. Of course people who run big businesses around the world are very capable people and they all have their charming ways, and they all have their downsides as well.”

    So that makes everything alright then does it – heard the news tonight that BskyB had made bigger than expected profits and in the eyes of the presenter were doing well and now am just waiting for someone to come out with – well that proves what wonderful people the Murdoch’s are as they count their pieces of silver….

  12. May 2, 2012 8:29 pm

    Excellent article. Seems the current crop of corporate appeasers have yet to learn the art of keeping their heads down. As for criticising another MPs hairstyle, one can only wonder what other juvenile habits will surface when under pressure.

  13. blackwatertown permalink
    May 2, 2012 8:36 pm

    Well argued piece. Paragraph 4 is the important bit.

    • Rob G permalink
      May 3, 2012 11:19 am

      Except that at the press conference launching the report, the Conservative MPs made clear that they’d have supported the report while disagreeing with those particular statements; their argument with the “fit and proper” part was (I gather) that making that assessment was ultra vires. That might seem a distinction without a difference, but to claim that the Conservatives agreed that the Murdochs themselves were culpable and therefore they should have backed the suggestion they were not “fit and proper” is to put words in their mouths that they expressly disavowed at the launch.

  14. May 2, 2012 9:00 pm

    I agree to an extent but many of the comments were misogynist and also directed at her. The problem is when people bring pointless sexist insults in to it they lose the argument, in this case they’ve lost it for all of us.

  15. May 2, 2012 9:02 pm

    And lets be honest… if you can’t tear Mensch apart on the basis of what’s between her ears, rather than what’s between her legs, you’ve got a real problem.

  16. May 2, 2012 9:41 pm

    Sorry..wrong website address. Very sloppy [and soppy] of me.

    How do I add a photo?


  17. Ultra_Fox permalink
    May 2, 2012 10:00 pm

    While the attacks on Mensch on the basis of her gender are clearly unacceptable, there is a clear conflict of interest which the mainstream media have overlooked.

    She could not have sat on a jury in judgement of Murdoch and the Select Committee should not have allowed her to do so either.

    • Colin Forster permalink
      May 3, 2012 8:28 pm

      Tom Watson and Jim Sheridan are conflicted to a far greater degree.

  18. Jim permalink
    May 2, 2012 10:01 pm

    She’s our MP and the moment she gets put under pressure, the “single Mum (before she married multi-millionaire Peter Mensch) with 3 kids, struggling in a man’s world” shite comes out. She’s an MP to put a decent line on her CV and improve her contacts. I’m sure she’s a nice person to have a drink and dinner with but as an MP she’s awful; and this she saw ‘Murdoch’ stuff as an opportunity to improve her status; further proof that she has bad judgement – rant over!

  19. May 2, 2012 10:19 pm

    I rather like Louise Mensch…. although I don’t agree with her politics. On the hour.. every hour yesterday she was popping up on news channels . Then she pretended to be a feminist. Which is certainly not. Maybe that’s why she was bombarded with hate tweets. Not because she’s a woman… but because she was being fake.

    Well done Alex. Another well written and balanced piece.

  20. May 2, 2012 10:29 pm

    Doesn’t it all then smack of a smear campaign; a liberal sprinkling of smoke and mirrors applied to the mix, in a desperate last ditch effort by the conservative party press machine to invalidate the condemning of a media tycoon, on whom politicians have become painfully and depressingly reliant to get maximum positive coverage in the lead up to the next general election? I think the answer is undoubtedly yes!

  21. May 2, 2012 10:35 pm

    Apologies that my last post made little sense: I had posted previously expressing agreement with your blog Alex but it didn’t make it through the system.

    [Anyway, I noticed some posters had photos attached and assumed that was an option for this site.]

    Keep up the good writing – its much appreciated.


    • May 2, 2012 10:36 pm

      The mysterious ways of the Spam filter… I think if you post a link to a video a preview jpeg appears.

  22. Gareth Murray permalink
    May 3, 2012 1:13 am

    Actually , after my tweet was hash tagged to #feminism I received some very sickening tweets from Louise Mensch supporters. I hadn´t abused Louise at all. I stated that she had `whored´ herself to News International live on Newsnight. The expression maybe strong, however the inclination is clearly not misogynistic.

    • unchartedworlds permalink
      May 3, 2012 1:38 pm

      “Clearly”? To you maybe. But the associations of “whore” aren’t gender-neutral, and its literal meaning relates to sex, not argument. If your intention wasn’t to invoke misogynist tradition, there are other words you could have chosen to make the substantive point.

      • Gareth Murray permalink
        May 3, 2012 5:53 pm

        The word was used metaphorically, and in fact is cross gender when used both literally and as a metaphor. I would have no problem using the word for a man had they been whoring their soul to Murdoch on live television.
        As you say there are other words I could´ve chosen to make my point, however the one I did choose does not make me either a misogynist or sexist.

  23. Sixupman permalink
    May 3, 2012 5:50 am

    Is Watson a ‘proper person’ to be a member of Parliament?

    • Chris permalink
      May 3, 2012 8:35 am

      A member of parliament? He was voted in, so yes. That how it works.

      A member of the select committee? Well that mostly depends on what side of the argument you subscribe to.

  24. May 3, 2012 7:41 am

    I admire Ms Mensch in certain of her mutterings, but I can’t help thinking that her self defence mechanism is hypocritical. It appears that you can’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  25. A Roberts permalink
    May 3, 2012 9:01 am

    Excellent post. This whole incident just underlines the absolutely vital importance of attacking the issue *not* the person. Too much of what is termed “debate” in politics is just people making ad hominem attacks (I think someone called D. Cameron did it just the other day in fact…) which is not only childish but leads to situations like this where the central issue becomes hopelessly obscured.

  26. Rory permalink
    May 3, 2012 9:55 am

    I think she needs to go here and have a right good think about what she’s said and done:

  27. TJ Wright permalink
    May 3, 2012 11:22 am

    Wow, she literally is a loud-mouthed internet troll that just happens to have been handed a microphone and packed off to parliament.

    Like other reasonable people, I can point to her hilariously nonsensical attention-seeking gibberish – without having to mention her lady parts.

  28. May 3, 2012 11:55 am

    If I may, this is shaky:

    “In short, she had heard enough evidence objectively to come to the conclusion that Rupert Murdoch was “obviously fit”, but the only way her colleagues could have come to a different conclusion was via a process of partisan consideration.”

    Not so. The principle, as with the law, is a presumption of innocence. Aye, even for Rupert Murdoch. We can’t know he’s fit and proper, we can’t know that about anything or anyone, but we make that assumption unless we can prove otherwise. I don’t know what “fit and proper” means under the law, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was meant to deal with fraud rather than people whose politics we don’t like.

    I don’t like Rupert Murdoch, I don’t like the Tories; nor do I like a politically motivated inquisition by showboating part-time amateurs who don’t have the legal skills to conduct this kind of inquiry.

    • May 3, 2012 12:17 pm

      I agree with the sentiment, but not the detail. This was not a criminal trial – the burden of proof you apply is not appropriate. The Committee did not make a finding of “not fit and proper” in legal terms – only Ofcom can do that. They said that in the majority view they didn’t think he was “fit”. At worst they tried to influence Ofcom. Which was precisely what Mensch and Hague were also trying to do through the media.

      Further, that the license holder of a broadcaster should be a “fit and proper” person is a continuing duty on them. Not comparable to the right to liberty in criminal law terms and hence the heavier burden of proof. If an MP were presented with evidence that a pub in their constituency consistently served minors, they may comment that they don’t think the Landlord is a fit person to hold a license. They didn’t make a decision – the Local Authority will. That doesn’t mean that their comment is outrageous. And I would certainly question someone with a vested interest who described them as “obviously fit”.

      • Rob G permalink
        May 3, 2012 12:43 pm

        But there’s got to be a difference between an MP expressing her or his opinion on a matter, and a Committee of Parliament doing so, with the authority that that implies. While it might not be a trial, one of Westminster’s titles is the “High Court of Parliament”, so caution is called for if only to “protect the brand” for future select committee reports.

      • May 3, 2012 12:45 pm

        There is. A Committee does so with a majority vote, having seen evidence in a public hearing. I saw all the evidence as it was presented to the Committee and think their assessment is bang on the money.

  29. May 3, 2012 1:04 pm

    Reblogged this on danoxbury and commented:
    Brilliantly put. Says everything on the subject I could ever wish to, just in far more eloquent terms. So well done you.

  30. paul permalink
    May 3, 2012 2:46 pm

    Tom Watson was polite but gave some good responses to Mensch on twitter this morning. I believe he would be happy to publish their report including expenses. Including Louise Mensch paying for lunch with that Michel guy from NI

  31. Nigel thompson permalink
    May 3, 2012 3:03 pm

    I could not agree more; serious questions remain to be answered by both Mensch and Murdoch. It only serves to distract and draw sympathy when analysis is more appropriate.

  32. Lucie permalink
    May 3, 2012 4:17 pm

    While I agree that her comments and views are bizarre and partisan, when are trawling round London asking people if they’d “have sex with her for revenge” (call it rape, that’s what you’re asking) it’s gone too far. Criticise her for her policies, criticise her for being partisan, criticise her for being a terrible politician, don’t attack her for being a woman, and don’t attack her for how she looks. I don’t see any magazines running a piece on whether or not women want to rape Boris Johnson for revenge.

  33. ChinaBounder permalink
    May 3, 2012 5:01 pm

    First time I’ve seen this blog – a good post, clear crisp writing. Most enjoyable. Thanks.

  34. keeshond permalink
    May 3, 2012 6:27 pm

    Good to read so many comments here. Is your analysis on such a topic ever referred to by mainstream media, Alex? The other day, for instance, I felt a sense of deja vu when I read Private Eye and I suspect that is because so much print media info. is now sourced from blogs like yours. However, I have as yet to see anything attributed to you in a diary piece, comment column or news report, though I accept that op.eds are jealously guarded variants on a theme in such a crowded market.

  35. May 4, 2012 3:38 am

    Love it! Hiding behind the word feminism is unacceptable. Louise Mensch needs to stand up and take responsibility for herself, her statements and her politics.

  36. May 4, 2012 3:48 am

    Love it! Most enjoyable. Thanks.

  37. May 5, 2012 8:28 am

    Storm in a teacup – MPs make fools of themselves everyday and in every way. The state of the country proves that and the MSM keeps providing the spin which attracts their self centred egotism.

  38. 823567.9 permalink
    May 8, 2012 6:38 am

    LOL. Hilarious.

    A total pedants’ wankfest.

    Lots of people up in arms about ‘personal’ comments on Facefook or Twatter would clearly be happy with them when it’s Murdoch,Thatcher or Dave.

    Mensch is a mendacious cunt.So was Blair, Mandelson etc. Put down your semiotics manuals and Derrida bibles. There is a univocal meaning. You know what it is. She is one. I can say it and not be a woman hater. I know what I mean and it’s my language so fuck right off with telling me what I am or what I mean when I’m using a word..

    And stop twaterring you middle class corporate whores.

  39. August 2, 2012 10:34 am

    Just got tweeted this by a friend – absolutely fantastic post. Incisive and devastating. So glad I’ve found this blog!


  1. Don't Mensch-ion it | Peas and Love
  2. Unfit and fitted up | Fox Tales
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