Tory MP Louise Mensch has resigned her parliamentary seat for family reasons. She wishes to spend more time with her second husband and her three children by the first one.
“I have been struggling for some time to find the best outcome for my family life,” she wrote in her letter of resignation, displaying the command of style we now expect from our rulers. ‘The best outcome’ is to be found in New York where her present husband manages some of the nastier rock bands.
Far be it from me to offer avuncular advice on bringing up children, or ‘kids’ as we’re now supposed to call them. Actually I always thought that in order to have a kid one had to have sex with a goat, but apparently not: Mrs Mensch’s offspring are undoubtedly human. Therefore, on general principle, perhaps the drug-sodden rock world isn’t the best backdrop for rearing them.
I’m not suggesting that Mr Mensch is anything other than an upstanding role model (or ‘stand-up guy’, in the patois his wife will soon have to master), but his chosen field of endeavour brings him, and vicariously his family, in close daily contact with what one has to describe as the scum of the earth. Even if neither he nor his wife takes drugs, his stepchildren will be growing up deafened by the kind of cacophony that can only be produced by acid heads, some of whom will be frequent guests in the Mensch household.
Mrs Mensch’s personal experience with drugs would have been in the past regarded as atypical for Tory MPs. In her 20s she self-admittedly was a heavy user of Class A substances, a fact she now professes to regret: “I messed with my brain… It’s had long-term mental health effects on me.”
She doesn’t specify which Class A drugs she took, and neither does she admit to having been a heavy and prolonged user. But one has to be that to suffer long-term cerebral effects, as Mrs Mensch describes them. Now she’s naturally reformed: “Drugs are incredibly addictive, they destroy lives”.
The second half of the statement is undoubtedly true; the first, only with reservations. The only two drugs known to cause serious physiological addiction are barbiturates and alcohol. Neither cocaine nor opiates produce this sort of addiction, though both can create a craving for the pleasurable sensation. Nor are withdrawal symptoms as horrific as they are described by those who lack the willpower to give up.
I wonder whether the ‘long-term mental health effects’ affected Mrs Mensch’s subsequent career, first as an author of bestselling trash novels and then as a highly opportunistic politician. One suspicious telltale sign is that in 1996 she switched to the Labour Party, because she believed Tony Blair to be ‘socially liberal but an economic Tory.’ He was in fact neither, as anyone whose brain hadn’t been ‘messed with’ would have known. Another dubious sign is that the next year she came back into the Tory fold – surely Tony couldn’t have done anything in the intervening months that he hadn’t done many times before.
Such firm convictions and sterling credentials, coupled, it must be said, with highly photogenic looks, had to put the future Mrs Mensch on the short track to Westminster. The new Conservative party was acquiring what’s now called a social conscience, but what could be more accurately described as a cynical and irresponsible urge to win elections by promoting candidates chosen strictly for demographic reasons.
Elective politics in Britain, and everywhere else, has become nothing but a power game. Any major political party in the West, and certainly in Westminster, would field nothing but convicted murderers if such a line-up could guarantee votes. Compared to such an extreme scenario, making a parliamentary party reflect faithfully the nation’s demographic makeup is child’s play.
Hence the candidate’s moral and intellectual suitability for office first stopped being the sole requirement for selection, and then faded out as a requirement at all. What matters now is solely the ability to seduce the electorate into casting votes. If people who never studied anything much at school feel we must have a certain percentage of women in parliament, then so be it. No other criteria will apply.
No sane person would mind a 100-percent female parliament if all 650 women were the most qualified candidates for the job. Conversely, no such hypothetical individual ought to object if such an uncompromising approach would produce a men-only House of Commons, or any imaginable mix of men and women.
Louise Mensch has bravely shown by her own example what happens when a political party selects candidates for silly reasons: it gets silly candidates. Moreover, it gets spivs who enter the Commons to serve themselves, not their constituency, and certainly not their country. When self-service comes in conflict with the job, they just up and leave for the greener pastures, such as New York’s world of hard rock.
One only wishes we were spared spurious and self-righteous explanations. Just tell it like it is, Louise: you think you’ll be better off out of Parliament than in it. That would be honest and also kind, for such a frank admission would let us nod and say that we’ll be better off too.