ANOTHER week, another story about Corby’s shy and retiring Tory MP Louise Mensch, or Baggers, as she’s still known around here.
This time it’s about how she announced to the select committee questioning James Murdoch that she’d be leaving 45 minutes before the end of the meeting to pick up her kids from school.
Much praise and sympathy for Ms Mensch mostly via her Twitter followers, for showing the difficulties for working mothers in putting their children first.
Er, was I the only one to think that it was a bit a joke, and that a man in the same position would never have got away with it?
I’m all for feminism, and flexible working hours for families, but hey, it was LUNCHTIME. She is an MP. She was in an important meeting that she knew was only actually due to run for another 45 minutes after she left. And the trains to Corby run on the hour and take 70 minutes.
It wasn’t an emergency and oh yes, she had her nanny in place in case she missed her train.
I don’t want to bash other working women, far from it. But I do believe in equality. Was she treated equally alongside her fellow committee members? Is Tom Watson leaving early this week to take his children for their pre-school injections? “We have children the same age I think,” she giggled at Murdoch. Who cares? Does that make you friends? Argh!
If I know I’ve got an important day of work diaried, then I try and sort extra childcare or make sure Bloke isn’t away with his own job.
It doesn’t always work. Sometimes in an emergency I’ve had to call very wonderful friends to collect my offspring for me, or had to apologise and dash off early. I’ve even had to have one at work with me.
And you can usually guarantee the more essential your presence is to the meeting, the more likely it is your child will fall ill, or have forgotten their swimming kit. But I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever announced on live TV that I’m leaving work, mid-meeting, at lunchtime, simply to pick up the kids from school.
You want people to take you seriously as a working parent? Then at least try and be as professional as everyone else has to be. It’s true that like many jobs, the working day of an MP can very long and inflexible and probably needs reviewing. But this was certainly not the platform on which to do it.