A young woman called Steph, originally from Austria but working in Britain, was concerned at her future security of residence after the vote to leave the EU in June’s referendum. She therefore wrote a forthright letter in her native language to someone on the Leave team who also speaks German - Labour MP Gisela Stuart - and who had also voiced concern for the future of EU citizens following the vote.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
So far, so routine, but then Ms Stuart made a brief and less than obliging comment in return, saying “Your letter was what I would called [sic] ‘gemein’”. That roughly translates as “mean” (as in “spirited”). Steph publicised the response, and released an English translation of her letter. Then (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch found out, and went in with both feet, spraying personal abuse as she went.
Using the platform given to her by Rupert Murdoch, the Heat Street website, Ms Mensch ranted “Gisela Stuart MP gave a brilliant reply to a horrible whining letter from an entitled Austrian, sent to her in German, bitching about the young woman’s status in the UK and slamming the democratic decision of her host nation, accusing Gisela Stuart and 17 million Britons of ‘contempt for humanity’ by voting for Brexit”. There was more.
“Britain may be stuck with this unpleasant and entitled millennial whinger from the land of better people than her, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has never complained about America’s laws … But she responded wonderfully - in English - to the stuck-up Austrian Remoaner, using only the German word ‘gemein’, meaning rude, common or mean … ’I hope [your email] made you feel better’, said the Brexit-leading goddess”.
And more: “The whiner published a translation of her German screed on Twitter so we could all judge what a rude, dismissive little person she really is. It includes unironically the line ‘second-class citizens’ (she is not one) and calls Gisela and all Brexit supporters racists. All her woes are the result of ‘the breathtaking egotism and contempt for humanity towards your own countrymen and women that your support for Leave indicates’ [sic] … The revolting little person then actually cried on Twitter that this great public servant and immigrant was rude to her”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.
Whether Ms Mensch actually read Steph’s letter is doubtful. Consider these points:
1 Steph did not accuse 17 million Britons of “contempt for humanity”.
2 She didn’t call Ms Stuart a racist.
3 Ms Mensch cannot conclude that Steph is not a “second class citizen”.
4 Steph did not “cry on Twitter”.
5 No-one was “slammed” for exercising their democratic right.
6 What Arnold Schwarzenegger says about law in the USA is irrelevant.
7 Ms Mensch cannot justify the word “little” except as a term of abuse.
8 Opinion, even that of Ms Mensch, is not the same as fact.
9 This is just bullying and browbeating, an abuse of the Murdoch-bankrolled platform.
10 Ms Mensch does not even begin to address Steph’s very real concerns.
This is remarkably similar to the intemperate attack Ms Mensch made last December on 17-year-old journalist June Eric-Udorie: there was no attempt made to address any issue that had been under discussion - Ms Eric-Udorie’s presence had come to Ms Mensch’s attention after Julia Hartley Brewer had complained very publicly, using her own platform at Telegraph blogs - and instead Ms Mensch was patronising and abusive.
Now the pattern has been repeated: no attempt to address the issues, just opinion paraded as fact, backed up with patronising, sneering abuse. Even the kinds of commenters who look in on Heat Street are, in the main, unimpressed by this. As they should be. This kind of obsessive and abusive behaviour has become Louise Mensch’s trademark. And it reveals an increasing detachment from reality.
Ms Mensch, if she had any self-awareness, would retract this unnecessary attack and say sorry, but she will not. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.