BY NÍAMH MARLEYPhotograph: Tyler McNally
Louise Mensch is the type of woman that can be simultaneously despised, envied and adored. Elected in 2010 as a Conservative MP for Corby, Mensch stuck two fingers up to the Tory establishment. Take away the Oxford education and you’re left with a twice-married ‘chick lit’ author who admitted that it was “highly probable” that accusations of class A drug taking in the 90s were true.
But Mensch was a breath of fresh air into Westminster. She was David Cameron’s sweetheart, loved by opposition MPs on the culture committee and destined for the political big time. No doubt, the Prime Minister was shocked when Mensch handed in her resignation on 6 August. In her resignation letter, Mensch said she was “devastated” to have to resign. She and her family are relocating to New York, a move dictated by husband Peter’s job as manager of Metallica. Considering the ever-fluctuating results of opinion polls and the current economic state, it is probably a by-election that Mr Cameron could do without. However, Louise Mensch’s resignation doesn’t just pose political questions. In her resignation letter, Mensch writes that she “[has] been unable to make the balancing act work for [her] family.” This poses the question – if she can’t, who can?
The phrase “she’s a working mum” is usually uttered with admiration and a little jealousy. The mind conjures up an image of a perfectly coiffed woman, chatting animatedly into a mobile phone whilst juggling a baby on her hip. In reality, the woman is probably trying to shovel Ready Brek into a toddler whilst sending an email, and cleaning her floors with a wet cloth under her foot. It’s a tough ask. Many mothers report feeling an overwhelming guilt at leaving their bundle of joy behind to return to work. Louise Mensch was the champion of the working mums brigade. Ballsy, educated and with a fantastic social media presence, Mensch battled working life with flair. Yet here she is now, with headlines such as ‘The Louise Mensch show was always going to end in tears’ being flung at her.
Headlines such as this and other similar articles seem to suggest that the kind of lifestyle Mensch was leading is impossible to maintain. Why? Is it so out of the question to suggest that work life and home life can work in harmony? Well, with a job like Mensch’s it is difficult to see how it would be possible. The hours of an MP are irregular and demanding. They are hardly conducive to a good personal life. But we need to get some perspective here. Louise Mensch isn’t admitting defeat by resigning. Under the name Louise Bagshawe, she has sold over a million books worldwide and is a self-made millionairess. Whilst she may not be able to work as an MP from across the pond, she can most certainly write.
So before the Louise-bashing gathers any more momentum, we must remember that Mensch hasn’t let working mums down. She has merely admitted that we can’t always be superheroes and wear our pants over our tights.