Louise Bagshawe/Mensch: going but not forgotten

Campaigning in 2010 with Eric Pickles: she was Bagshawe in those days

I have a great deal of time, and a great deal of respect, for Tim Montgomerie of ConHome.  I agree with him on many points — not least with his robust take on climate issues.  So I was a little surprised by his recent Tweet: “Saddened by @LouiseMensch‘s exit. She was a big star-in-the-making. A big loss to Tory cause. People should respect her putting family first”.   I was moved to reply @TimMontgomerie @LouiseMenschCome on Tim. She’s made her own position untenable”.

“People should respect her for putting her family first”.  How often have we seen politicians (usually men, admittedly) saying that they’re resigning “to spend more time with the family”.  How often is it true?  Rarely.  And probably not in this case either.

I wasn’t at Louise’s Corby selection meeting.  But I’d be astonished to hear that no one had asked her how she intended to balance an MP’s work with family commitments.  And I’m sure she had a glib answer.

The truth is, she’s been a dilettante and a self-publicist.  Of course all politicians tend to be self-publicists to a degree — it goes with the territory.  But for Louise, it was not so much a means to an end, as an end in itself.

She’s been an embarrassment to the party, and a huge disappointment to the Corby Conservatives who selected her (under pressure from Central Office).  And a disappointment to the wider constituency.  I wrote about her recently (perhaps a touch sarcastically).  /    I feared that “achingly trendy” can so easily tip over into self-parody.  And for good measure, I observed that “She divides her life between New York and Westminster, but still finds time for the occasional courtesy call to her Corby Constituency”.   Rather few courtesy calls, as it happens.

Asked by the local press if she planned to stand in the next General Election, she gave a very defensive and ambiguous answer, interpreted by the press (rightly, it seems) as showing a lack of commitment to Corby.  Local Conservatives were furious — but had little opportunity to express their concern face-to-face.

Then the photo-ops.  I have nothing against women being photographed in see-through frocks.  But it rather undermines the gravitas one still expects from a Member of Parliament.

David Cameron’s chick-lit choice has left him with a problem he could well do without: a by-election in a marginal constituency when the Conservatives are behind in the polls.  They are certain to lose it.  This is where they get to by choosing candidates who tick all the politically-correct boxes, but don’t start out as politically committed.  How many honest conservatives work their socks off — in some cases for decades (like Pauline Latham, say) hoping to get to Westminster?  Yet here’s someone who was handed it on a plate, and threw it away when she got bored with it, like a child tiring of a Christmas present by Easter.

No doubt if I’d given way to Baroness Warsi over the matter of my intended resignation last December, and allowed her to appoint a Cameron A-Lister to my vacated seat, instead of the man selected by Conservatives in the Region (Rupert Matthews), we’d have ended up with another Louise Mensch.

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17 Responses to Louise Bagshawe/Mensch: going but not forgotten

  1. Sad to see your personal dislike of an individual turned into a political rant and don’t tell me that a UKIP member (if you ever get one) would not use a similar excuse if required.

  2. This is not a party-political point. I was disenchanted with Louise long before I joined UKIP (I’ve talked to Conservatives on the ground in Corby, who were deeply disappointed with her). She has let down her party and her constituents. The Tories will lose the seat because (A) It was marginal to start with; (B) The Tories are down in the polls; (3) Voters hate unnecessary by-elections, and punish parties who cause them.

    • The possibility that Conservatives were “deeply disappointed with her” does not mean they will necessarily change their allegance in November; it now gives them an even earlier opportunity to vote for a new Tory candidate if they so wish.
      If you look at the election figures over the last seven elections with the exception of 1997 Corby has always been marginal. It is traditional that around the mid term of any government their poularity will have dropped since the general election. For this seat to change hands would not therefore be a surprise. Opinion polls are all very well but there is only one that counts and I would suggest that the key here will be what happens to the LibDem vote…
      Your third point is purely a personal view although granted that turnout is usually lower. This is complacency on the part of the electorate and a failure of ALL parties to campaign effectively. I would be interested to see your evidence to support the theory that the pary that causes an
      “unnecessary” by election gets punished.

  3. machokong says:

    She was everything that is wrong with DC and the public opinion that follows her is the forecast for the kind of resentment “Dave” (that’s what our beloved PM want us to call him) will receive when he, finally, leaves in 2015.

    She was a socialists, PC, feminists wet dream and thus over-promoted thanks to an “A-list” which had no regard for talent blind to gender, falling short, very short, very quickly. Again ignored were the traditional right-wingers who cried that Mrs. T never needed no blinkin women’s only list (probably the same types who complained about the EEC before we were tricked into it).

    The only women that make a difference in government are the ones that can’t dance or the ones you never see or hear of.

    I suspect this will be the fate of “our Obama” – that Chukka nonce.

  4. Bruce Anderson in the Telegraph seems to share my view of Louise Mensch: is.gd/cCsGxZ

    • So? – thats another opinion which is not evidence. i believe the saying is either put up or shut up.

      • Andy: You are doing the clever lawyerly trick of demanding ever more detailed evidence. I have formed a strong opinion on this point over many years of political experience. I should have no difficulty in proving the point by doing a detailed analysis of umpty-ump by-election results. But frankly, I have better ways of spending my time. I am happy to let others form a view about the validity of my opinions. Take it or leave it.

      • Roger Helmer, you made a statement – it is not a lawerly trick to suggest you supply the evidence to support that statement – you haven’t done so but have used the old MPs trick of saying you have better ways of spending your time. . . which usually means that you have no confidence in being able to justify your position. Take it or leave.

      • Mr Helmer you stated that you could cite “umpty ump by elections” that support your opinion..but didn’t do so.
        For your information since 1979 to date there have been 140 by elections. These were caused by the following:
        General election result Voided – 2
        Elevation to Peerage – 5
        Appointed High Court Judge – 1
        Sought re-election on change of party allegance (the honourable step) – 1
        Appointment to a Senior but non parliamentary post – 10
        Reignations to contest E & W crime commisioner post – 3
        Resignation on medical advice – 2
        Resignation on election to Scottish Parliament – 1
        Resignation to seek mayoral election – 2
        Resignation to seek re-election inopposition to Anglo Irish agreement – 16
        Resignation – personal reasons – 13 (this includes speaker Martin who really had no option)
        Death of Incumbent – 84

        I suggest that just 9.28% of by elections being caused by resignation for personal reasons is not “umpty ump” cases. Of course you may consider the death of the incumbent to be quite unnecessary.

  5. Mike Spilligan says:

    Mr RH: To comment on your original posting, I’d repeat (paraphrased) what I read elsewhere – Mensch decided originally that it would do no harm to her ambitions to tick the “Westminster MP” box. – and even “former ditto” still looks good. It didn’t matter about others’ priorities or objectives or resources wasted, and so on. Self – self -self.
    I’m sorry that your posting has been targeted by someone who wants to change the subject to one of his choosing. If that’s proof of anything it’s that a TWEarp can emerge anywhere; but maybe he’ll create a blog of his own which would be the logical thing to do.

    • I think, MS, that if you read the original piece by Helmer again, despite your assertions to the contrary, it was Helmer himself who made the remarks which I questioned and which he has, like so many politicians, failed to come up with the goods when challenged.
      You, by embarking on a comment that criticises me, are actually changing the subject to one of your choosing.

  6. Rich Tee says:

    I agree with pretty much every word in this blog post.

    I always felt that I could not trust any politician whose spouse lives in New York and it turns out I was right. It shows a lack of loyalty to Britain, and a return trip to New York takes 16 hours. How can anybody expect to raise a family and be an MP under those circumstances? That’s before we get on to her record of drug taking, dubious jobs in the entertainment industry and her previous membership of the Labour Party.

    She was never suitable to be a Conservative MP.

  7. Mr. Helmer – slight correction to the byelections; the vacancies caused by the resignations to seek E&W Crime commisioner posts and Corby are pending.

  8. ingram says:

    Very interesting debate! I have to say that I think the conservatives have been there own worst enemy and have brought this upon themselves. The point at where they went wrong is when they pushed the corby conservatives into selecting an A list candidate for a town which has a rich industrial heritage, and more importantly has recovered from the closure of the steelworks, this has created a strong community in corby, and that is the key to the winning of an election in this town. The people! has anyone ever asked them what they think what they think would be a “suitable” candidate or is this another case of boffs in westminster deciding what they think corby needs.

  9. tomgowans says:

    A lively exchange indeed!

    I liken Louise Mensch, and the new breed of politician, to the chap who joins the Army with the smart uniform, the status and the privileges of the Officer’s Mess foremost in his mind rather than the welfare of the men under his command.

    I don’t care what her motives were, her family issues were hardly more dramatic than those faced by countless working wives, as well as many husbands who, as expatriate workers face months away from their families.

    The issue here is Duty. Public service is increasingly being regarded as a profession, not Service. By resigning she has not only betrayed the trust of her constituents, she has also been extremely disloyal to the central office of the party that fixed it for her to stand. Given her performance, however, I am sure that her constituents have feelings as mixed as I would if I saw my Mother-in-Law drive over a cliff in my new car.

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