Jane Merrick: Vote for the craggy face of experience

Share

There is something exhilarating about seeing Nadine Dorries, a 55-year-old mother of three, standing hands on hips on top of a table on the House of Commons terrace in Manolo Blahnik heels and an Oscar de la Renta dress.

If politics were a Western – and with Clint Eastwood's appearance as Mitt Romney's warm-up act last week, it feels as if it is – then Mrs Dorries would be credited with having run her rival out of town. In one of her last interviews before leaving the UK to live in New York, Louise Mensch, the former MP for Corby, defended The Sun's decision to print pictures of a naked Prince Harry. Mrs Dorries fired back, accusing Mrs Mensch of being "void of principle". It was almost as if the town of Westminster was not big enough for the both of them, these two female Conservative MPs who have put their own passion for speaking their minds ahead of promotion.

It is possible to admire both Mrs Mensch and Mrs Dorries for not conforming to what David Cameron or party whips would prefer MPs to do, which is to keep their mouths shut and cross fingers for a ministerial seat, and it is a pity that British politics has lost the forthrightness of Mrs Mensch. But it is also hard to escape the feeling that the older woman, in these pictures for Tatler, has got the better of her more glamorous 41-year-old colleague, by staying the course.

When the Prime Minister unveils his reshuffle, there will be a beauty contest of youthful men and women from the 2010 Tory intake taking up junior posts. Mrs Dorries' attack on the PM and Chancellor as "arrogant posh boys" precludes any post under Cameron's leadership – not that she cares.

Two of the most colourful people in Westminster, until Mrs Mensch left, were female. But among the men, Vince Cable's popularity outstrips that of Nick Clegg, nearly 25 years his junior. Mr Cable recently declared that the "worship of youth" in political parties was subsiding, and I hope he is right. Some Tory MPs confidently predict that their next leader will be "uglier" than Mr Cameron: voters, tired of smooth-skinned whippersnappers will want the craggy face of experience.

In that other nest of vipers that is breakfast television, Lorraine Kelly, a 52-year-old sofa veteran, returns to our screens this week as the main presenter of ITV's Daybreak. Her predecessor, the slimmer, more glamorous Christine Bleakley, 33, left the show last year after becoming a ratings flop. TV is often derided for being a world where youth beats experience – especially, and unfortunately, for women – but not in this case. And who is the star of this summer's Olympics and Paralympics TV coverage? Not Gabby Logan, but Clare Balding, two years her senior and more horsey than clothes horse, who appeals to us by being as excited as we are.

Some will sneer at Mrs Dorries for posing in expensive outfits for a high society magazine. But, as the ambitious under-40s queue up for their ministerial red boxes this week, we should cheer the unsinkable Dorries, Kelly and Balding for fending off the tyranny of youth.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices