Louise Mensch was something of a Marmite character in Westminster but she was never boring; the Commons will be slightly less interesting without her sharp opinions and colourful interventions. She was no doubt controversial, however: at least one senior Tory called her “Gizza Mensch” in reference to her love of media appearances. Here is our news story about the exit – a by-election is expected in November.
One senior Tory MP even said icily that Ms Mensch’s resignation showed the “folly” of the A-list system:
“There’s no point in bringing people in who haven’t really thought about what the job will be like – people who think it’s much more glamorous and more fun than it actually is.”
The highlights of her brief Westminster career included a glamorous magazine spread; testily standing up to Tom Watson over the Murdochs; and a painful appearance on Have I Got News For You. (The Guardian has a good catch-up on some of these).
But commentators are divided about whether her departure has wider repercussions for the ability to attract successful female MPs able to balance a family life with the strange working life of Westminster.
Rachel Sylvester in The Times says that the departure “raises questions about the way in which politics operates.” The Commons is still not conducive to combining work with a home life, says Sylvester. Her theory is that Mensch, like some other Cameron A-list 2010 candidates, rapidly realised that they were not on the fast track to promotion but instead stuck with the “drudgery of life at Westminster“.
I’m inclined to take a rather different view; that with an A-list husband working in the US (rock group manager Peter Mensch) the choice was not between family and Westminster – but rather between living in the US or the UK.
As Gaby Hinsliff writes in today’s Guardian:
“As for the hoary old question of what this means for the work-life balance debate, Mensch herself is quite clear: nothing. She has rather admirably declined to have her personal choice turned into propaganda for the ‘told you mothers can’t hack it’ brigade.”