Once upon a time I would always avoid calling Oxford graduates stupid, because of the thought that Oxford did not let stupid people through the door. But former Tory MP Louise Mensch has convinced me otherwise: here is someone who exhibits all the symptoms of total stupidity, carrying on her rant against the Guardian even after she had led her former colleagues to make fools of themselves this week.
Has she got news for us? No - as usual
The appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) by editor Alan Rusbridger was in most part a farce. Rusbridger, by any non-partisan judgment, hardly broke sweat: not even that part of the Fourth Estate that blames him for Murdoch closing the Screws could muster much in the way of criticism. And worse was to come for Ms Mensch’s proxy Julian Smith.
Smith rocked up on Channel 4 News, where presenter Jon Snow, and Stateside press stalwart Carl Bernstein, took him apart, also without expending much energy. Smith and the Tories on the HASC had become obsessed with following Ms Mensch’s equally obsessional pursuit of what she called the Guardian’s alleged “trafficking of agents’ names”.
It turned out that there was only a possibility that some names were present in files which were transferred from one Guardian office – in London – to their New York premises. “Trafficking” means buying and selling, and infers illegality (she and her former colleagues also allege “communicating”). There was no buying and selling, and no information was communicated with a third party. So that’s a fail, then.
One might think that Ms Mensch would give up after getting it so wrong, but one would be wrong: even late last night she was trying to stand up an accusation that Glenn Greenwald had somehow tricked documents out of the Guardian before tendering his resignation (no reliable citation was offered). Greenwald already had the cache from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In the meantime, she has tried one last throw of the dice, with “Has Rusbridger exposed thousands of GCHQ personnel?” another of those rhetorical questions to which the answer is assumed by the author to be “Yes”. Here, readers are told that she is right because she has selected sources that say what she wants to hear: that “agents” have been “compromised” in their thousands.
Sadly, the comments show that her audience is tiring: of the 19 that are not her, just one offers support. The rest range between scepticism and ridicule, plus the occasional suggestion that she has defamed her adversary, to which she replies “I await the denial from the Guardian. None will come, because I am right”. Yes, they really do let stupid people into Oxford University.
But Louise Mensch has done one thing right. Leaving politics – hopefully for good.