The news will come too late for many of Louise Mensch’s former colleagues in Westminster, but just for the record, if there are any MPs reading this, she wouldn’t have minded if you’d punched her in the face.
I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that’s the only conclusion I can draw from a set of bizarre tweets sent out by the former Tory MP, successful author and Sun columnist this afternoon in the wake of the BBC’s announcement that Jeremy Clarkson will no longer present Top Gear after he punched a producer in the face.
An angry Mensch tweeted to her 93,000 Twitter followers from her New York home: “Britain has got so pathetically wimpy #Clarkson”.
Apparently the much-publicised Clarkson “fracas” was not in fact down to an over-indulged middle-aged millionaire with anger issues but entirely the fault of “our culture of effeminacy” which, she says, “knows no bounds”.
Mensch went on to justify her point to a follower querying her first tweet, saying: “I definitely do think it [violence] is OK. Between equally matched, and no serious harm done? Yep.” She then added for good measure: “Assuming equal rank etc as in this case”.
So what exactly is Louise Mensch saying? That it’s okay if you hit a colleague of roughly the same fighting ability or size?
Clarkson is a big man and I imagine on a good day he can throw quite a punch, using that huge belly as ballast, so I assume Mensch is only happy for him to punch colleagues who fit the same bill.
Which is strange because, from the photos I’ve seen of Clarkson’s victim, Oisin Tymon, he doesn’t look like he’d be any match physically for Clarkson, a veritable featherweight to Clarkson’s heavyweight.
Some of us might also quibble over whether Mensch is right to think that a jobbing BBC staffer such as Tymon does indeed enjoy “equal rank” with the multi-millionaire star of the TV show he produces.
And I suppose we all have different definitions of what constitutes “serious harm” in a fight. Personally, I think I’d be quite cross if someone gave me a cut lip and I had to spend hours in A&E to get it treated, but I guess that just makes me a bit of a wimp.
But then I’m also a woman. So would it be okay for Clarkson to punch women at work as well, Ms Mensch?
After all, some of us are big strapping lasses who can more than hold our own in a bar fight (I know, I’ve done it).
According to her Twitter feed, Mensch later insists that, no, it is not okay for male colleagues to physically attack female colleagues – although, interestingly she doesn’t clarify whether it’s okay for women to hit other women or not, so it’s apparently still a goer for Mensch’s former female MP colleagues to swing a punch or two.
In Mensch’s utopian future, it will mostly be be men who face going into work every day with their fingers crossed that the boss doesn’t smack them in the face because they forgot to put sugar in his coffee. After all, no harm done, eh?
Except there was harm done. To a BBC producer’s face and self-respect. But, in Mensch’s world, that’s just yet more proof of how pathetic we in Britain are.
What Mensch really means is that the fault lies not with Clarkson, who is just a man’s man doing what men do, but with his producer, who failed to fight back and, well, give as good as he got.
Like many of the million-plus signatories to the “Bring Back Clarkson” petition delivered to the BBC, Mensch sees Clarkson not as the workplace bully he is but as the poor victim of political correctness gone mad.
Mensch is not alone, of course. Indeed she is backed up by her employer Rupert Murdoch, who also tweeted: “How stupid can BBC be in firing Jeremy Clarkson? Funny man with great expertise and huge following.”
So if you’re funny, good at your job and lots of people like you, then you can do pretty much anything you like to anyone and get away with it? (Hmmm, now where have we heard that before..?)
The truth is that when people like Louise Mensch imply that Clarkson is a victim, they are basically saying that it’s okay for people to go around punching people who irritate them.
This is not a case of Left versus Right, or about BBC political correctness, or even about whether you’re a fan of Top Gear or not.
I am a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson and I love watching him on TV and reading his various columns. I think he’s funny and irreverent and adds to the gaiety of nations. But I also think the BBC were quite right to terminate his contract.
And if Louise Mensch genuinely believes that it’s okay to punch your colleagues then she may find a queue of people waiting outside her New York apartment block tomorrow morning keen to test out her theory in practice.
Still, no serious harm done, eh?