Simon Kelner: My week of sleeping.. and waking with Mrs Mensch

FreeView from the editors at i


Somebody told me yesterday that neither Louise Mensch nor Tom Watson was on the radio. Thank God, I said. I thought I'd gone deaf in my left ear.

The ubiquity of these opposite poles from the Culture Select Committee in recent days has said a lot about the way in which modern media, a voracious beast that needs feeding every minute, is prone to turning in on itself.

I am well aware that the unravelling of the Murdoch empire is so much more than a media story, but nevertheless there is a limit to how much of Mrs Mensch or Mr Watson we can take as they pop up on every medium, at every hour of the day, rehearsing the same arguments.

If you watch Newsnight and listen to Today, it's been possible to go to sleep and wake up with Louise Mensch. As the author of chick-lit like Venus Envy and A Kept Woman, the former Louise Bagshawe knows all about the publicity game. Get on the telly and radio, do the newspapers; sell some more books.

As a politician, she has a different product to market – herself and her ideas. She understands that, as one of the more photogenic and media literate of our Members of Parliament, she's going to appeal to the middle-aged men who run our newspapers and TV stations.

So although Conservative members of the select committee voted against the killer finding that Rupert Murdoch was unfit to run a major company, it was Mrs Mensch, inset, who was endlessly wheeled out to explain their position.

This she did coherently and articulately and I have some sympathy with her belief that the committee (or "her committee", as she injudiciously referred to it on Newsnight) over-reached itself in search of a grand-standing conclusion.

However, there is, as she well knows, another side to all this publicity and it wasn't much of a shock to see her do one more round of interviews and appearances highlighting the abuse she received on Twitter for standing up for what she believes in.

Bullying, misogynistic comments poured in to her Inbox. Violent, sexually explicit threats descended on her. She left the most offensive ones there for the world to see, in order to illustrate how social networks are used for ill intent, with particular abuse targeted at women.

I'm only surprised that she's surprised. She's been on Twitter long enough – she has 50,000 followers, for heaven's sake – to recognise that this is the side effect of being able to get your message out quickly and efficiently. You just don't know who is going to answer you back.

The Internet provides the cloak of anonymity and Twitter gives 140 characters: just about right for that hurtful personal insult. A colleague of mine, who earns his living in the digital world, pointed out one of the anonymous tweets that had been sent to Mrs Mensch. It read: "@LouiseMensch. Lol. Slut."

"That," he said, "is the Internet."

React Now

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

Head of Marketing - Pensions

£65000 - £75000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Organisational Change/ Transition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

Client Services Executive / Account Executive - SW London

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Executive / Client Services ...

PA to CEO / Executive Secretary

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Executive PA to CEO & Executive Dire...

Day In a Page

Read Next

August catch-up: dress to impress, words to use more often, and the end of the internet

John Rentoul
A group of primary school children learn about where babies come from  

Of course seven-year-olds should be taught ‘age appropriate’ sex education

Chloe Hamilton
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis