The Rennard affair has had a side-show on the go for the last day and a half, the denunciation of Guardian man Michael White following his suggestion that some of those commenting needed to show a sense of proportion: “Homophobia remains a lethal fact of life in many parts of the world and slavery, female genital mutilation and other horrors are still widely inflicted on women, even in Britain. A clammy hand on the knee is not quite the same” he concluded.
Has she got news for us? Not yet
Note that White did not say “a clammy hand on the knee” was somehow admissible behaviour, to be ignored, or otherwise trivial (and nor do I). Some responded adversely but sincerely, notable the formidable Stella Creasy. Then came former Tory MP Louise Mensch, spotting a bandwagon onto which she could jump.
Among her more creative contributions was “It is not only appalling that Michael White wrote an apology for groping today but also that the Guardian published it”. He didn’t condone, or apologise for, groping. But what about others who said more or less the same thing? Like professional motormouth Katie Hopkins, who told “The Rennard women need to man up and get a grip. OK he rubbed your leg. Tell him to stop. Quit tormenting a gentle giant through the media”.
Did White make things worse with an over-familiar tone?
But criticism of Ms Hopkins came there none. She and Ms Mensch are, of course, both columnists on the Murdoch Sun, but maybe other factors are in play. Perhaps White made a rod for his own back by calling Ms Mensch “Lou”, something to which she objected vehemently. Sadly not: this is more faux outrage. He used the term last November, and she called him Mike in return. Without objecting.
The subject didn't object last November
Or perhaps this is because Katie was just sounding off on Twitter? Again, no: this morning Sarah Vine has come to more or less the same conclusion as White in her Mail column: “But if what has been claimed is all he is guilty of, then this entire affair is one gigantic over-reaction” (she, too, does not condone or excuse that behaviour). Stella Creasy took issue with Ms Vine. Louise Mensch was absent.
Maybe it was because it was a man making the comments, then? That, too, has already been debunked after Rod Liddle made a customarily unsubtle intervention yesterday in the Spectator: “Will the women apologise to Rennard?” he asked, following with “They think they’ve been wronged and no QC will disabuse them of that mistaken idea. Grow up”. Cathy Newman saw that. Ms Mensch didn’t.
There is only one reason for Louise Mensch’s attack on Michael White, and that is to once again kick the Guardian. She steered clear of the Sun pundit, the wife of one of her former fellow Tory MPs, and the resident contrarian at the Speccy just so that she could use the Rennard affair for her own vindictive ends.
And, like her other Guardian bashing efforts, it failed. But Rupe will be pleased.