An Open Letter to the UCL Council

louisemensch:

a student at UcL wrote this – please tweet it out and share it

Originally posted on :

To: Members of the UCL Council

Ex Officio
Professor Michael Arthur
Mr Omar Khan
Mr Lukmaan Kolia

Appointed
Mr Ven Balakrishnan
Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones
Dame DeAnne Julius (Chair)
Ms Nahid Majid
Mr Simon Melliss
Ms Lindsay Nicholson
Ms Vivienne Parry, OBE (Vice Chair)
Dr Gill Samuels, CBE
Mr Philip Sturrock, MBE
Baroness Jo Valentine
Baroness (Diana) Warwick

Elected (Professorial)
Professor David Attwell
Professor David Coen
Professor Nick Tyler, CBE

Elected (Non-Professorial)
Dr Martin Fry
Dr John Hurst
Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia

Dear Members,

On 15th June, UCL announced that it had accepted the resignation of Sir Tim Hunt “in good faith”, without a transparent inquiry into the background of his resignation.

This debases justice to mere expedience. Moreover, official assessments made through an opaque and informal process create an environment in which meaningful discourse cannot be expected.

By setting a precedent of a fragile framework for justice, UCL’s present approach insidiously…

View original 103 more words

“Reinstate Tim Hunt” – Email to Professor Michael Arthur

louisemensch:

please read this open letter

Originally posted on advocat101:

Dear Professor Arthur,

I am writing, on behalf of thousands of petitioners, to ask that you reconsider your decision not to offer to reinstate Sir Tim to his honorary position at UCL.

I appreciate that Sir Tim’s comments struck, as you’re recorded to have put it, “such a discordant note” and feel it vital to consider why.  We live in the Age of YouTube and Reality TV, where judging complete strangers based on brief media representation has become commonplace.  Further, commercial media are expert at splicing, twisting and spinning stories to create resonant emotional reactions for financial ends.  Such engineered discord should not cost an innocent man his honour and, as Sir Tim himself feels, poison his future career.

Then there are those, such as Dame Athene Donald, who point out widespread concerns over sexist behaviour in science, interpreting the level of discord that followed Sir Tim’s speech as a…

View original 632 more words

due process J

The Royal Society’s ‘Diversity Committee’ Pre-Judged #TimHunt. Now UCL Should Give Him Due Process

Imagine the scene: you are a distinguished female scientist, a Professor and an employee of the college you work for, University College, London. You have a blameless employment record and have served your employer – and its students – with distinction for many years.

Suddenly you receive a call from a senior representative of your employer, pressurizing you about the actions of your spouse – actions you have nothing to do with, and do not understand as yet, because he is unable to speak for himself, as he is traveling back home from the far side of the world.

Your employer’s representative gives you a message for your spouse; he must resign, or he will be sacked. Your employer places you in the middle of its workplace drama with somebody else, a drama which, as a female scientist, you had nothing to do.

What a terrible, stressful suggestion – from your place of work – pass on its threat of public humiliation, without due process, to your beloved husband, an old man of 72, whom they are not allowing to come home and speak to them first.

That is what University College London apparently did to Professor Mary Collins; and the man said to have made the call is the Dean of Life Sciences, Professor Geraint Rees. Certainly he publicly tweeted about ‘taking action’ and ‘establishing facts’ on her husband before the University spoke to Sir Tim.

I don’t know if Professor Rees is in any way a superior to Professor Collins in the academic hierarchy. But why did UCL ask a woman employee to involve herself in its threats to the reputation of a member of her family? Is that not creating a hostile work environment?

I’d call that sexist, UCL. I’d call that bloody sexist. And if it happened, I don’t see how it can be either legal, or consistent with UCL policy towards paid employees.

What made this worse was that Professor Rees’s colleagues in academia, Professor David Colquhoun and Professor Dorothy Bishop*, had pre-judged Professor Collins’ husband and were actively campaigning to get him disciplined at the Royal Society and UCL – over a lie, and without fact-checking.

On Jun 7th Sir Tim Hunt was asked to say a few words at a luncheon speech in Seoul where he was supporting a conference of science journalists.

This speech included a self-deprecating joke about his own (factual) romance in the lab. It was not a joke about women scientists at all; it was a joke about his own romantic ineptitude, and it mocked sexist attitudes by saying “Now, seriously…” showing that the prior joke was irony, or sarcasm.

As is well known, Sir Tim and his wife, Professor Collins, met when she was his lab student and already married;  she left her former husband for Sir Tim; they remain married –  and they remain scientists.

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls? Now, seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women, and you should do science, despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.”

In his professional life Sir Tim Hunt has an active record of mentoring and promoting women that have been his students. He has never asked for single-sex labs or advocated for them. Eminent female scientists that have studied under him, including Professor Hyunsook Lee, Professor of Biological Sciences at Seoul Unversity, have come forward to say so.

On Jun 7th, journalist Connie St Louis tweeted a partial account of Sir Tim’s words leaving out “Now seriously….” and his praise of women in science. She insisted that he was deadly serious and had not praised the role of women in science. She also stated Sir Tim had ‘thanked the women present for making the lunch because that was their role’

Some journalists present, like Deborah Blum, backed her account in tweets. Others denied it.

I shall write a separate blog on the unethical and false reporting of this event by Connie St Louis, Deborah Blum, Charles Seife, and others; but the academics come first – they are meant to be evidence-based scientists, not political campaigners.

At this point Sir Tim Hunt, who was doubtless bewildered, had made no statements to the press at all that were made public.

On June 9th, before Sir Tim Hunt had been able to speak to his university, University College London, or any statement from him had been broadcast, three Professors – two with affiliations to UCL and one to the Royal Society were – without even speaking to Sir Tim – plotting to deprive him of his honours without due process of any kind. It is VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE that they did so BEFORE his comments to Radio 4’s “Today” Show were broadcast.

They are: Professor David Colquhoun, Professor Dorothy Bishop – both of the “Diversity Committee” of the Royal Society, i understand – and Professor Geraint Rees.

[Edit – Professor Bishop has commented below and I have replied to her. She isn’t – thank God – on the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee – but she used it as the weapon for the smear campaign she waged on Sir Tim before he had said a word. As detailed here, she lobbied Professor Rees of UCL against him and she lobbied Colquhoun against him. I have removed statements that she is on the committee – she simply used the committee, via Colquhoun, demanding he be taken off his post where as her Royal Society colleague he serves. Again and again she is cited by Colquhoun for her demand that Sir Tim be forced out of the Royal Society’s committee – and UCL’s.]

Here is my evidence that all three pre-judged Sir Tim based on no evidence and without speaking to him: that they actively campaigned for the deprivation of his honorary posts.

comments made

This is unjust –  and academically unsound. “Science needs women” is an ironic comment, given that “Science needs women” were words Tim Hunt also said at that lunch. Dorothy Bishop suggests “WE ask that he not be on ….committees given his views.” What views? She cannot know them; at this stage she has only an unverified tweet contradicted by other witnesses.

“Am establishing facts,” Professor Rees says. How could he do so, without having spoken to Sir Tim Hunt? “And will consider further action when known.”

But the facts were NOT known and COULD NOT have been known without speaking to Sir Tim.

“Can the diversity committee respond to this?” says one Clare Burrage, tagging in Professors Colquhoun and Bishop and showing them the tweet of St. Louis. “OMG, how very disappointing,’ says Colquhoun, tagging in @UTAFrith. “Are you referring to #Huntgate?”

Cool hashtag bro. You’re so hip.

Colquhoun immediately tweets to another person. I suggest that he is clearly lobbying: “I think we can expect statements soon from @RoyalSociety and @ucl (where Hunt has hon appt) about Huntgate.” He then links to a Royal Society statement of distance; presumably he and the “Diversity Committee” have demanded it. A woman scientist tweets to Colquhoun “Did he really say it?” Colquhoun says, tellingly “I fear he may have. We are on the job.” On the job, Detective Professor? What, without a word from the accused?

On the Job J

“It’s totally contrary to the beliefs of @royalsociety and @ucl… not that I speak for either.” “Good!” Colquhoun exults, RTing a Royal Society tweet to Connie St Louis saying “Tim Hunt’s comments don’t reflect our views.”

How could the Royal Society know what Tim Hunt’s comments were? But let’s get back to the busy, busy anti-Hunt campaign by powerful member of the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee, Professor David Colquhoun, UCL. “The Royal Society is quick off the mark dissociating itself from Hunt’s dreadful comments #Huntgate.”

But his fellow Royal Society  member, Professor Dorothy Bishop, is not satisifed with the public shaming over a misreported joke about Prof. Hunt’s love life, and is using the Diversity Committee as her weapon. Again, at this stage Sir Tim Hunt had made NO reported comments to the press WHATSOEVER: “Not sure it’s enough. In five minutes or so Hunt has undermined all RS is trying to do on diversity. Need statement from Nurse.”

UCL Nurse J

That’s Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, who joked that he wanted labs to be “marriage bureaus” and science students to fall in love and marry for visas. This wasn’t a view of the interview he discouraged: Nurse tweeted it out from the official Crick account. Can you say…… #DistractinglySexy?

Crick Nurse Sexy J

But I digress… Sir Paul’s cunning and #DistractinglySexy Crick laboratory has “distracted” me from the pre-judging campaign waged by Bishop and Colquhoun against a gentle old man, their distinguished colleague, who has supported women scientists all his working life, without the courtesy of speaking to him.

We are still before any comments made by Sir Tim Hunt.

“Well said, @girlinterruptin,” continues Colquhoun to the Oxonian scientist, linking to her blog. “Tim Hunt has no support. I expect more statements tomorrow.”

He and Bishop are a bit more open about how they are lobbying against Hunt, before speaking to him, and on the basis of a misleading, partial report, in the comments below this blog – before the Radio 4 Today Show was broadcast. Dorothy Bishop, FRS,  also says of Sir Tim Hunt, FRS, at that moment, still her colleague at the FRS and still on a committee of the Royal Society, “there is no requirement you be a decent human being.”

Let’s take a pause here: Bishop says Tim Hunt is not a decent human being, before he has made any comment whatsoever.

Bishop and Hunt Colquhoun human J

Into the pre-judgement, no-due-process fray, we now welcome Professor Geraint Rees, Dean of Life Sciences at University College London; who obliges Professor Colquhoun’s campaign with a tweet saying UCL rejects the “alleged views”. For good measure he too tags in @RoyalSociety – I expect at the explicit request of either or both of Professors Colquhoun and Bishop, but can’t be sure.

Wooh! An “alleged”!

But Professor David Colquhoun is certainly not going to allow a little disclaimer like “alleged” spoil his fun with Tim Hunt: “Very glad to see my dean coming out swinging on the Hunt affair,” he crows.

Coming out swinging.

Nobody has heard from, or spoken to, Sir Tim Hunt.

:Dean swinging J

But see! What light from yonder window breaks? Why, ’tis the Today Show on Radio Four and its producer Tom Feilden, who is has read the unpleasant comments calling Hunt not a decent human being and demanding the removal of his committee memberships before speaking to him.

‘Will you give me a call?” he asks of Bishop and Colquhoun. He also seeks comment from @UTAfrith. Amazingly, he did not ask @Demna25 to comment, as she was tweeting what a total absurdity Connie St Louis account of the event was. Feilden did not approach any defenders of Sir Tim Hunt on Twitter.

“Just called but you weren’t there,” says Colquhoun, although he obviously reaches Feilden later. Next, David Colquhoun approvingly cites as evidence of Tim Hunt’s wickedness a Buzzfeed piece that had to be retracted:

Tim Hunt did not say “Thanks to the women journalists for making lunch.” This was reported on Twitter, but was later corrected to note that it was said by a female politician. Jun. 10, 2015, at 7:59 a.m.

And in possibly his greatest hit, Professor David Colquhoun, University College London, Fellow of the Royal Society, “Diversity Committee” of the Royal Society, calls Sir Tim Hunt, 72, FRS, UCL (at that moment) a “misogynist.”

A misogynist. A person who hates women. Sir Tim Hunt.

Misogynistic Hunt Colquhoun J

I had a look. He’s edited it. Facebook preserves the edit history:

Yesterday saw a disaster for the advancement of women. Tim Hunt is reported to have made appallingly misogynistic comments about female scientists. The best report so far is on Buzzfeed

That would be the Buzzfeed “report” that Sir Tim Hunt “thanked women scientists for making his lunch” based on mis-read tweet which they retracted. Two days later Colquhoun added:

As a member of the Royal Society’s diversity committee, I feel pretty angry about his daft views. I’ve heard nothing like them for many decades. They have set back our work, temporarily.

In the comments underneath his post, Professor Colquhoun comes up with some KILLER evidence of what an UTTER WOMAN-HATING BASTARD Tim Hunt is:

Ice bucket challenge J

“Here you can see Tim Hunt tipping a bucket of ice water over his (very successful) wife”

Yes, that’s right, the married scientists had entered the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. WHAT A PROPER PAIR OF [GENDERED INSULTS]!

At this point I am suspecting Professor Colquhoun doesn’t get out much.

But Tom Feilden of Radio 4 having solicited opinions only from arch-critics of Hunt has now got an interview up. I have asked the BBC many questions about this interview. I have received background partial answers which I cannot quote, and have requested on-the-record answers.

Here, however, is a summary:

In the piece, the presenter opens the segment by stating as a fact that Sir Tim Hunt said words he did not say, in an order he did not say them. She notes with sarcasm that Sir Tim had said he was joking and being ironic.

This was the first time the world had heard any statement at all that Tim Hunt was not only joking but joking ironically, that is, sending up himself, not sending up women.

However, the Today show does not broadcast Tim Hunt’s speech in his own defence, explaining what he meant by the joke and the irony of it. That is a basic, fundamental requirement of an impartial state broadcaster. It has never put those words or quotes online.

She then moves to a quote from Hunt, where he talks about emotion and crying without mentioning women at all. It ends “I only meant to be honest, really.”

Unchallenged, Connie St. Louis and Jennifer Rohn are allowed both to give negative views on Hunt and present, in the case of St. Louis, falsehoods as facts. St. Louis’s lies are so voluminous they require a separate blog, and I refer here to the lies in her account, not the lies on her CV. Rohn is the author of a “Lab-Lit” romance called “Experimental Heart” described by Science magazine’s reviewer, an oncologist, as an “accurate” portrayal of the “familiar” world of “dark-room romance.”

Ho-hum.

This broadcast, however, spliced the words “I was only being honest” away from where Sir Tim actually said them and put them after comments about crying (where women aren’t mentioned) to make it appear “I was just trying to be honest” referred to his views on women rather than about his own life. A later BBC audio of Sir Tim shows he clearly refers to his own life (as his joke did) and ends with the same words “I was just trying to be honest” – that is, about himself, not women in science.

bloggers all hours DC R4 hunt J

David Colquhoun then won the victory for which he had so ardently been lobbying. Tellingly, he said it “would have been sooner” “had he not been on a plane back from Korea.” Note his use of the word “job”, something he later denies Sir Tim had (after the backlash starts).

Tim Hunt resigned from his hon job J

The Today show audio was partial at best. “I was only being honest” appears to have been wrongly placed. At my university, Oxford, we were taught to examine primary sources and challenge assumptions. At the very least, it was clear on June 10th that there was more Sir Tim had told the BBC as the presenter referred to it “he claims he was joking“. But UCL did not ask Sir Tim. The Royal Society, whose President Sir Paul Nurse had made a much more #distractinglysexy joke about the Crick lab, did not ask Sir Tim.

Instead, it appears, Professor Geraint Rees, who had publicly stated he was “establishing the facts” and would take more action “when known” (they were not) – allegedly called Professor Mary Collins, an actual employee of University College London, and informed her that if Sir Tim did not resign he would be sacked. Professor Rees and UCL did not deny it when this was put to them by the Telegraph. I have given Professor Rees the chance to rebut this allegation over several days as part of public-interest journalism, and he has not. Still, if it was not Prof. Rees it was a senior colleague of Prof. Mary Collins and s/he was speaking for the employer.

This is #DistractinglySexist. This is dishonourable. This is evidence-free. This is unscientific. This is political. This is a hostile work environment for Professor Mary Collins. What had she to do with it? How will UCL explain their overtly sexist actions – not jokes, actions?

How will the Royal Society explain their actions towards Sir Tim Hunt FRS on no evidence that was tested – such as, was the Today show broadcast the full story in the right order and context?

How will they explain the pre-judgement of Sir Tim BEFORE the Today show broadcast by Professors Bishop and Colquhoun? How will the Royal Society explain their different approaches to the jokes of Hunt and Nurse?

UCL issued a statement about the matter that appears to be provably false:

Sir Tim Hunt’s personal decision to offer his resignation from his honorary position at UCL was a sad and unfortunate outcome of the comments he made in a speech last week. Media and online commentary played no part in UCL’s decision to accept his resignation. 

In a huge amount of back-tracking and scrambling Bishop and Colquhoun have referred to this last line again and again. But “media and online commentary” is the ONLY source UCL had over what Sir Tim Hunt had said in Korea. They had no other sources, because they did not speak to Sir Tim Hunt. His words on Radio 4 could have been – and in fact had been – heavily edited. They did not check with Sir Tim Hunt to see if this was the case. Thus, they had no sources other than media and online sources. Due process did not happen.

Neither did respect for the position and rights of their actual employee – Professor Mary Collins.

UCL has a Council on 9th July. Given the evidence that Sir Tim Hunt’s resignation was forced in a sexist manner via his wife, and that two of the most powerful pushing for it had pre-judged Sir Tim EVEN BEFORE THE EDITED TODAY SHOW PROGRAMME, Fellows of UCL, or whoever judges there, should ask that his honorary Professorship be restored.

The Royal Society, on similar grounds, should restore his honorary membership of whatever committee he was on.

And because of their campaigning and pre-judgement of Sir Tim, which was evidence-free, contrary to good science, Professors Dorothy Bishop and David Colquhoun should, in my view, both be asked to resign from the Diversity Committee of the Royal Society.

Sarah Vine J

And the last word on Sir Tim Hunt, described, pre-Today show, by Professor David Colquhoun as a “misogynist” and of whom Professor Dorothy Bishop (of Oxford University, I am ashamed to say) stated “You don’t need to be a decent human being” to be an FRS, should go to one of his former female science students, Hyunsook Lee, now a Professor of Biological Sciences at Seoul University, Korea:

Korean letter

Thank you very much for fighting cancer, Sir Tim Hunt, FRS, Nobel prize-winning biochemist. I am not a Professor of science like David Colquhoun nor a Pulitzer winner like Deborah Blum. But I am a woman and a feminist, and I am grateful for your scientific work and your life-long mentoring of, and support for, women.

 

* I called her “Deborah Bishop” when her name is “Dorothy Bishop.”

Bullyfandom: Was TWCuddleston “Harassed”?

Last night I received numerous tweets and articles accusing me of ‘bullying’ the 17 year old appropriator of the #Milifandom hashtag, TWCuddleston* on Twitter. It would indeed be a serious thing had anybody bullied Ms. Cuddleston – bullying is always a scourge, and always wrong. I was planning to wait to write this piece, but even saying that I planned to wait encouraged a round of left-wing pieces such as HuffPo’s amusing “Louise Mensch Suspends ‘Bullying’ Campaign So Milifandom Founder Can Sit Her Exams.”

These accusations of bullying of TW- by me and several others – however, deserve a response, and it’s clear that if I don’t give one, left-wing websites will say that I ‘backed down’ and ‘admit my bullying’ or words to that effect. Therefore, I will put up this reply and thereafter ignore her and those tweeting about her. I blocked her account itself yesterday morning, my time, and therefore cannot see what she is writing.

Ms. Cuddleston was not bullied by me nor, as far as I can see, anybody else from the right, in any way. She  – and her supporters – have, however, claimed truly extraordinary levels of harassment. So in this piece, I examine what this alleged ‘bullying’ consists of.

I wrote about Ms. Cuddleston positively in my Sun column last month, where I examined the different response to her clever campaign and the abuse heaped on a student accused as posing of a schoolgirl to set up the ‘Cameronettes’ account (he didn’t).

SOCIAL media may persuade a few to vote but I doubt it will have much of an impact.

Yet the #Milifandom moment was clever social campaigning from young activists.

A 17-year-old student called Abby started the meme as an attempt to counter the media being mean to Ed. Then student Charlie Evans suggested a #Cameronettes hashtag — and a 13-year-old girl took it up with a Twitter account.

Lefties were soon accusing Evans of being a pervert, pretending to be 13 — and no matter how often he said “no”, they didn’t stop.

At the time, that was what I believed about Ms. Cuddleston. Like most, I noticed the #milifandom hysteria after the hashtag started on April 18 and was trending for a couple of days; Ms. Cuddleston had taken the credit and it was taking off. Shortly after that Labour Party Press Office announced that they had taken over Milifandom’s media affairs. This seemed pretty odd to me and several others – wasn’t MF a spontaneous teenage love-in with Ed Miliband?

I was asked ‘u mad bro’ because the @cameronettes copycat account was said to be fake. I replied, reasonably enough I hope, ‘Let’s see if the kid is real and milifandom is run by Labour press.’ ‘Not it’s not,’ replied @MissLauraMarcus, and another Labour supporter, they and copied in the @TWCuddleston account whom they said was the founder. I’d never heard of, nor sought out Cuddleston; her name was copied in to me.

So I asked a question, and as a reply to a tweet that included TW, her handle was automatically cc’ed in. Was Labour helping? I got two replies. The first was ‘Of course they are, they are trying to win an election.’ The second (from @MissLauraMarcus) was “Have you really sunk so low you are trying to smear a teenager?”

(At this point you can picture me making confused “Hm’roo?” Scooby-Doo noise). You what? Smear a teenager? How? Since that day Labour Press said they were taking over the account, I actually didn’t think Ms. Cuddleston would even be reading her own twitter. This seemed to me a totally legit question. Nobody was being accused of anything – well, other than the male student falsely accused of impersonating a thirteen year old girl and founding @cameronettes, being a pervert etc.

To this, my first question of MF and Labour handling it, I got responses that would become par for the course where Ms. Cuddleston was concerned over the next few weeks: “She’s a young girl doing some of the most important exams of her life!” “Thank you for proving how scared the Tories are of a 17 year old! Get a life, Louise!”.

Note the immediate accusations of bullying, ruining exams etc. @MissLauraMarcus continued to answer the question on behalf of Cuddleston and Labour and in almost every reply accused me of bullying for answering it. No amount of reasoned debate, or even praise for milifandom, could sway her.

It’s a great, well-executed, fun political meme,” I said. “The question is did the party co-ordinate it. If yes, admit.”

(I can certainly see how this brutal grilling and attack-dog style tweeting is a disgrace to feminists everywhere :) ) When Laura replied yet again with more “bullying” attacks, I said “Laura, all I hear is you talking for her and Labour Press who are handling her thing.”

At this point it was already getting wearisome of being accused of bullying for asking this legitimate question, and Laura’s claims of bullying were attracting others. “I’m an elderly lady older and wiser than you,” said one Labour supporter. “What would you call me for joining the #Milifandom?”

A hot babe with a sense of humour?” I replied. “No problems with any in #milifandom – only if Labour co-ordinated it and lied. And even then, the problem is not with the originator but with Labour using her.”

I confess that even upon rereading these tweets, they do not come across to me as inhuman pressure on a politically engaged young woman, or as attacks on the hashtag and its pictures: quite the opposite.

On this day, April 22, when I had accused Ms. Cuddleston of precisely nothing, and indeed praised the MF campaign as a ‘well executed fun political meme’, I got a ton of tweets accusing me of “bullying” her: just a few examples here, here, here, here and here. (My favourite might be “Mensch interrogation again? Wonder how long til the waterboarding #classy”)

However, at this point Ms. Cuddleston did reply to me and it was perfectly friendly.

“They [Labour] didn’t, I can promise you,” she said.

Thank you. Excellent bit of social media campaigning,” I said. ‘Feel like I should now make you a Milifandom-meets-Hiddleston fandom but not good at meme gen :)”

So far, so reasonable on both sides, you might say. But no. This mild response was met with more accusations of being “contemptible” and demanding I set the record straight, which I promised to do:

I’m going to write about the campaign, praising her work, this Sunday in the Sun,” I said, and did so, as excerpted above.

I then forgot about Ms. Cuddleston, as far as I was able to. I was bombarded still with utterly false accusations that I had ‘bullied’ her by asking if Labour press, having taken over her campaign, had assisted it, but I tried not to @ her name in reply. Bullying is a very nasty thing to do, a horrible accusation to have to counter, and clearly, I had not bullied Cuddleston. But I tried to tell myself that she, herself, was not responsible for all these shrieking lefties comparing my question to “water boarding” and crying about “bullying” a young political activist by, er, asking her a question.

During the election campaign I was no longer thinking about Ms, Cuddleston. All of my energies were focused on investigating George Galloway and Respect’s apparent violations of S106 of the Representation of the People Act in Bradford West, and as a columnist, I was particularly interested in Nigel Farage and Thanet South, as well as all the other issues that arose in the campaign from a feminist point of view, like the gender segregated rally in Birmingham organised by Labour.

Milifanmageddon arrived back on my TL when I replied to a tweet by (again) @MissLauraMarcus. It should be said that prior to the milimoment, Laura and I were tweeps, often agreeing on anti-semitism issues, so I frequently notice what she writes, and she had specifically addressed her tweet to me.

Laura asked me if I thought it was unethical that a reporter had knocked on Cuddleston’s door. ‘No it isn’t,’ I said. ‘She isn’t a child.‘ I would ask readers to note that this reply had no period in front of it; it was sent directly to Laura; nobody who didn’t follow both of us would even have read it. ‘Did you fulfill your promise and write about her in the Sun?’ Laura asked, accusing the reporter of ‘going after’ Cuddleston. ‘Yes, last week,’ I replied. There followed a discussion between the two of us and one other tweeter as whether a 17 year old is or is not a child and whether or not they can be asked for an interview. My position was that the press code of conduct wasn’t broken and that Ms. Cuddleston was a minor, not a child. ‘Legally can wed and serve in the Army,’ I pointed out. ‘Perfectly fine.’ Laura wasn’t having it: ‘What would your reaction be if it was a teenage Tory activist doorstepped by the Mirror?‘ she asked, ironically, as it would turn out. We debated the issue between ourselves. I did not @ TWCuddleston’s account at any point, nor was I even publicly tweeting about her; I was having a one-to-one conversation with Laura, visible only to our mutual followers. By this time, I found Cuddleston’s actions very distasteful. She was falsely complaining of harassment by reporters – a very serious charge, enough to get a reporter fired post Leveson, or to blacken their names for simply doing their jobs.

Yet TW’s prior timeline consisted of a massive string of self-glorifying tweets in which she directed her followers to RT her press, or exulted about another opportunity she was getting or mention that she had received. Media – handpicked media – was everywhere. She was first featured in a Buzzfeed interview on the 21st and posted a succession of shrieking tweets of joy about it in ALL CAPS, which she has now deleted

SO I WAS INTERVIEWED BY BUZZFEED FOR AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE #milifandom (Link to piece)

This was followed by “please RT” and “OMG I’m dying” as she exulted with her friends that Buzzfeed had made her famous. It was also followed by a  Guardian interview which TW gave after her tweet saying “No interviews please, I am doing my AS Levels” on the same day

 

Given also that Labour press had said they controlled her, it was quite possible that requests given in were being ‘curated’ and would not reach her. I saw no problem with a reporter knocking on the family’s doors, requesting an interview and leaving a business card – provided that when and if they got a ‘no’ they left. I had not been there that day, so I can’t say for sure what happened, but on May 2nd and 3rd when Laura asked my opinion on the incident (as publicly described on Twitter), that was it.

However, I was pretty surprised to find that my one to one conversation with Laura had resulted in a seemingly endless stream of stop-bullying-Cuddleston tweets directed at me, when I wasn’t speaking publicly, or even naming or @-ing her. It was probably because Laura added the #milifandom hashtag to this tweet to me:

Bit of advice love… I REALLY wouldn’t go after a very popular 17-year-old. Makes you look mean, nasty & bitter

Well, I thought Cuddleston’s wrong claims against a woman doing her job were disgraceful, and said so to Laura; but I was not tweeting my public TL, mentioning the girl’s name, or @-ing her into the conversation (and Laura had asked me my opinion of the incident). Again, this was apparently “going after” Cuddleston, as by now anything other than fawning praise was deemed to do.

On May 3rd, I was utterly bombarded by hundreds of “Don’t bully the milifandom founder” tweets; they were  by now beyond tiresome. But I was also perplexed as to where they had come from. Were I and Laura Marcus so interesting as all that? I saw it as a left-wing attempt to stop me tweeting all day long on #EdStone, which was the story of that day and (joy!) proved even more successful as a vote-influencing meme than #Milifandom.

Not til the end of the day on May 3, therefore, did I  check out Cuddleston’s timeline: Mystery solved:

Just an open message to Louise Mensch. I don’t care what you think. Thanks.

This had got 300 RTs, and presumably explained the tsunami of “stop-bullying-TW” tweets. As Ms. Cuddleston had not @-ed me, I had no idea she was talking about me, as I have never followed her on Twitter. A bit late therefore I replied to her:

just an open message to you. We have something in common. I don’t care what you think, either.

But Ms. Cuddleston was not done. She was deconstructing my conversation with Laura Marcus (remember, I’d been asked for my opinion on the reporter by Laura) for her followers on the left:

According to Louise Mensch, I am “asking for press.” Oh clearly, practically begging you to knock on my nans door.

She included the tweet of herself saying ‘no press’ because she had exams. But as I had discussed with Laura, her actions indicated a firm desire for press, even a relish for it, in my opinion, and the press code tweeted at me showed a division in the code between approaching children under 16 and those older minors.
It is also worth saying that @TWCuddleston’s supporters repeatedly claiming that she is “a child” are wrong in law. Under S 107 of the Children and Young Person’s Act, a “child” is under 14. Those over 14 and under 18 are defined as a “Young Person.
  • Child” means a person under the age of fourteen years;…..young person” means a person who has attained the age of fourteen and is under the age of eighteen years.”

This distinction is also in the IPSO press code, which treats those under 16 differently from those over 16 (the age of consent). TW herself argued she should have the vote at 16. So, not a child then. A young person.
Apart from my reply to Cuddleston, however, I still took care not to @ her directly. From the first non-threatening question, literally everything thrown her way had been called bullying. The difference for me pre May 2nd, was that I tried not to ascribe that false accusation to Cuddleston herself. After May 2nd I was pretty disgusted to see her making what based on public description of the incident  was not at all harassment into harassment. Having sat on the hacking inquiry on the Select Committee, I know what a severe and solid charge it would be had a newspaper bullied, threatened or otherwise harassed a young woman doing her exams; and the reporter in question would be a pariah. It was a serious thing indeed Cuddleston said this woman had done to her. And therefore at this point I started actually looking at the activist’s TL to see what had really happened versus the persecution that she claimed happened – and as somebody wholly falsely accused of being a “bully” to Cuddleston, I was now reading her claims with a skeptical eye.
And woah, did TW make some claims. She hysterically demanded ‘answers’ from Rupert Murdoch as to why reporters had turned up at her door and tracked her down. She praised herself for standing up to Murdoch. She tweeted at former AG Emily Thornberry of white van fame who also tweeted in all caps “Rupert Murdoch call off your dogs.” And this was May 2nd! A long time after TW had tweeted ‘no interviews’ before giving one to the Guardian! Have these people no respect…?
But then TW’s air of sanctity started to unravel a little bit. It emerged she had tweeted, then deleted, a photograph showing TWO reporters’ cards – one with the Sunday Mirror on it. When called out on that, she hastily said that all press intrusion was wrong. Reporters stated they did not believe her. ‘It’s just that you are going on a rant without mentioning  the Labour supporting Mirror who also contacted.”
TW excused the Mirror with the very odd excuse that “Mirror however contacted after part of my location had been revealed.” What did that mean? Part of my location? She was accusing the Sun reporter by repeatedly questioning all and sundry how the reporter could possibly legitimately have obtained her address. Sadly for her, this was a ‘harassment’ accusation too far. A bunch of different journalists either rebuked her, or, as supporters, attempted to set her straight: these are not ‘Tory scum’ but Labour supporting writers with Tony Benn in the bio.
Urgh. @twcuddleston reporter bashing is a bit tiring. If reporters weren’t rude and just knocked the door what’s the problem?

@twcuddleston before they came around did you give any other journalists or political party members any identifying details?

@twcuddleston It’s easy to do, tbh, social media footprint, couple of surnames then check electoral register, phone data. Nothing illegal.

@twcuddleston @JonDennis @rupertmurdoch Journalists in following-up-well-publicised-story-and-trying-to-interview-someone-involved shocker.

@twcuddleston Of course not! But not illegal to try to interview you either. Addresses are easy to find lots of ways – basic journalism.

@sarahlansell @twcuddleston Depends. Not sthg I’ve had to do a lot myself but I’ve found people eg from first name, context plus Googling.

 

But of course, Ms. Cuddleston was not interested in that – she wished to claim major persecution (but only from the disliked media group).

“Please Retweet! Shame on you @rupertmurdoch. Call off your dogs & leave @twcuddleston,17 yr old creator of & her family alone!

  •  Said Emily Thornberry, former Labour Cabinet minister. Once again, the Labour party are handling TW’s press.

This description of a reporter who knocked on TW’s door, was polite and friendly (by TW’s own account), left her card, and left – as a “dog” – finally brought a few protesting journalists into the open. “Slight overreaction?” asked Isabel Oakshott mildly. “Sounds like legitimate pursuit of a story, unless there’s something I’m missing.” She was one of many to suggest that electoral roll look up of the parents and googling could have brought up the address. With immense hypocrisy, @MsJenniferJames, who we see above telling TW ‘nobody is out to get you’ on the identical issue, now , tells Oakshott “Either through stupidity or malice you’re attempting to provoke a child. Do one.” “Zzzz,” Oakshott responded (hooray). By this time, TW had twice posted the Sun reporter’s phone number in two separate tweets (both now deleted). In the first picture, she uses the Sun reporter’s details to obscure the name of a Mirror card. In the second, she removes the Mirror card altogether, clearly displaying the reporter’s number yet again. Advice to remove a phone number is, once more, ‘harassment.’ A lawyer who points out to her that under the law she is not a child, and that she supports votes for 16 year olds whilst calling herself a child, is accused of not only harassment, but sexual perversion.

Meanwhile that night, a mentally disturbed woman going by the handle @SherbetLemon1 – her profile said she had PTSD – was telling TW she could be “sued”. Everybody around her, including Peter Jukes, was assuring her what utter nonsense that was:

https://twitter.com/peterjukes/status/594663964258238464 Murdoch never sues.

Yet the next night, as I argued with him – again, not with Cuddleston directly – Jukes was trying to claim mysterious and non-existent “legal threats”, as if they had come from a journalist, or somebody connected to the paper that asked Cuddleston for an interview. Jukes knew full well that literally nobody other than the poor mentally ill woman, whom TW’s fans ironically bullied off Twitter altogether, had ever suggested she would be sued or attacked.

So, there we have it. Nobody ‘harassed’ TW Cuddleston. Some reporters disagreed with her, and were characterized as a “baying pack of tabloid hounds” when they were lefties working at the Oxford Mail, for example, by Jukes. Cuddleston displayed extraordinary hypocrisy as she twice doxxed a reporter, then ranted for days against non-existent “bullying” by the Murdoch empire. Cuddleston excerpted a one-to-one tweet conversation I’d had with her supporter and broadcast it to her followers, to feed a victim complex when she wasn’t even being named, @’ed, or publicly addressed. Cuddleston  claimed that the Mirror were somehow less guilty than the Sun because “part of my location” had been revealed even when her address had not. Cuddleston stated that her tweet saying ‘no interviews’ mattered, then totally contradicted herself as her May 2-3rd rant about a polite interview request showed a text from her Dad (posted by her) dated April 22 – the same day as her tweet, and the same day that despite it she was talking to the Guardian. In all likelihood then, the Sun reporter could have left to knock on Cuddleston’s door as or before that tweet was made – she would have been traveling and unlikely to see it – whereas the “days later” Mirror reporter must, by definition, have known full well she had “requested” no interviews.

Not only myself, but any person disagreeing with Cuddleston was falsely accused of harassment or trolling of a young woman who is not a child under either IPSO or the Children and Young Person’s Act, and who can already vote in some UK elections, like the Scottish referendum, had she lived there.

And Cuddleston had sunk to the level of tens of hysterical tweets against a woman who – by her own account – did her job politely, in a friendly way, and simply left a card – whilst casting herself as the scourge of the evil empire – and yet not @ -ing even one single tweet to the Mirror group, who had committed the identical “offence” only days after her ‘no interviews’ tweet was made, not on the same day.

Harassment IS serious. Bullying IS serious. The reporter did not do it to Cuddleston, nor did I, nor did anyone else. The lawyer who pointed out her status as a ‘young person’ not a child said he received “hundreds” of abusive tweets from her fans… “worse than UKIP,” was his amusing verdict.

In the same conversation in which a left-wing journalist fan of TW’s was accusing Isabel Oakshott of “stupidity or malice, attempting to provoke a child”, the journalist Katie Glass also dared to venture an opinion, and I think it’s a good one on which to end:

@HadleyFreeman @LouiseMensch I resisted criticising her because she’s young. But can she be in public debate but outside comment?!

@PatrickStrud @HadleyFreeman @LouiseMensch complicated though. Can someone expect to express+ influence opinion but remain outside comment?

No. They can’t. Absolutely nobody has harassed Ms TW Cuddleston. I think she has an enormous future ahead of her in the Labour party. I do not mean that as a compliment.

 

* Yes, I realise this is not her real name. As she has said that my engaging with her ‘makes her cry’ I will simply use her Twitter handle for this piece. I do not care who she is or what her real name is; it isn’t relevant to the principle of whether or not a 17 year old can be debated by an adult. Also in order not to ‘make her cry’, I will close comments on the blog, and will not respond to her nor to any of her surrogates on Twitter. Although she has not been a child since she was 14, if she wishes to be treated like one, I can accommodate her.

Axis of Evil J

Galloway’s Staffer, The Serjeant-At-Arms and Release of Parliamentary Data

Yesterday the news broke that IPSA, the Parliamentary regulators, having reviewed two complaints against George Galloway, the former MP for Bradford West, had referred them to the police.

It goes without saying that a referral is neither a conviction nor even a prosecution. But it does mean that Ms. Ali Khan’s complaint cannot be described as trivial, and that Parliament’s watchdog body agreed with her that there was a case the police should look at. Her lawyers, in statements, described ‘thousands of pages’ worth of evidence. Much of this evidence I have seen myself. Ms. Ali-Khan approached me last year and asked me to look at her case and see if I could help her.

As a footnote to the various articles, it was added in that I had also made a complaint which had been referred. The assumption by journalists was that I had complained on the same grounds. That assumption was incorrect.

Tom Newton-Dunn in the Sun broke the story that there was a pre-existing investigation by police into possible data protection offences which is currently being investigated after ‘a third party made a complaint’ in March. That third party was me.

On the same day that I made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police, I made an expenses-based complaint to IPSA against Mr. Galloway. This complaint, IPSA told me yesterday, they have also referred to the police (on the expenses grounds under which I made it).

It has nothing to do with how Mr. Galloway used the time of Ms. Ali Khan when she worked for him.

It has to do with how one of Mr. Galloway’s then parliamentary staff, Mr. Rob Hoveman, used his parliamentary email address and may have used parliamentary equipment and facilities, to seek data about Ms. Ali-Khan from various sources – including her parliamentary data as a House of Commons employee from the Serjeant at Arms, and including her Muslim divorce certificate – and passed that data to the Guardian newspaper.

If indeed this did happen with Mr. Galloway’s knowledge, it would be an appalling misuse of the powers, funds and office of an MP against a private citizen of the UK.

I regarded that as wrong both on grounds of data protection and on grounds of use of expenses.

My complaint to IPSA was rather different than Ms. Ali-Khan’s in that it did not contain thousands of pages of evidence. It contained one page of evidence – the email sent to me by the staffer in question from his then parliamentary email address, which I reproduce here, redacted as to references to third parties to protect their privacy:

 

From: Louise Mensch
Sent: 18 July 2014 16:45
To: HOVEMAN, Rob
Subject: Press Enquiry: Aisha Ali-Khan personal information

Dear Mr. Hoveman,

My name is Louise Mensch, and I am a journalist who writes for the Sun newspaper.

I have heard allegations that you improperly requested personal information on Ms. Ali Khan from the Serjeant-At-Arms, and that you passed on private and personal information about her to the Guardian newspaper.

Can you tell me if either of those allegations are true?

[redacted – questions about other allegations not relevant to this case]

I hope to receive a reply very shortly from you as to your personal actions relating to Ms. Ali-Khan’s data. If I do not receive one, I will send a Freedom of Information request to your office, to IPSA, and to the Serjeant-At-Arms’ office.

I will be most grateful for a contact to whom I should put my questions about Mr. Galloway, and/or if there is a direct and private email by which I can contact Mr. Galloway, or a good time at which I can speak to him directly.

I will give your office until this coming Monday, at 5pm, to respond to me.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Mensch

 

 Email received in reply:

Dear Ms Mensch,

I would not normally respond to any approach from a “Sun journalist” given what an atrocious paper the Sun is. I only have to recall the grotesque insult this paper made to the victims and the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster to feel almost physically sick at the thought of dealing with someone from this particularly unpleasant part of the gutter press. Nonetheless, I think it is incumbent on me to correct the tissue of lies and disinformation that you have been fed regarding matters concerning Aisha Ali-Khan.

 

Ms Ali-Khan was employed by George Galloway between April 1st and December 10th 2012 when she was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. She was suspended from work on October 14th 2014. A police investigation into her activities and those of her lover former Detective Inspector Afiz Khan followed concerns raised in parliament and directly with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary. The result of this investigation was the summary dismissal of Afiz Khan from the Metropolitan Police and the conviction of both Afiz Khan and Aisha Ali-Khan for criminal offences. The two will be jointly sentenced on 31st July this year.

 

[redacted as reference to 3rd party]

On October 19th 2012, the Guardian published an article largely based upon the testimony of Aisha Ali-Khan. We raised objection to the bias in this and another article published on 15thOctober by the same journalist. In response to this complaint we received a reply from the then Managing Editor of the Guardian, Elisabeth Ribbans. In that response reference was made to the Guardian journalist having been shown information contained in Aisha Ali-Khan’s Security Vetting Questionnaire which Aisha Ali-Khan had been obliged to complete in order to receive her security pass giving her access to the parliamentary estate.

 

The specific claim made by Ms Ribbans was that the SVQ contained details of Afiz Khan as her spouse. Subsequently it was established that an Islamic but not civil marriage between Aisha Ali-Khan and Afiz Khan in 2009 had been followed by an Islamic divorce in 2010 confirmed by a Sharia Council. In the light of this information, I raised with Serjeant at Arms concerns about aspects of the security vetting of Ms Ali-Khan. Serjeant at Arms wrote back to me saying that the SVQ contained no reference to a serving police officer, from which I concluded that there was a prima facie contradiction between what Ms Ribbans had written to us in 2012 and the information provided to me by Serjeant at Arms in 2014. Naturally I raised this apparent contradiction with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian, who is, for your information, a kind of Guardian ombudsman. His investigations into this matter are currently ongoing, but as a Sun journalist, you will no doubt be aware of just how serious a misdemeanour it would be for a journalist to fail to check the veracity and the credibility of a source properly, and even worse give false information regarding the checking of the veracity and credibility of a source, when false information could cost a newspaper very dearly.

 

As regards any potential breach of the Data Protection Act, I would say this. The divorce certificate confirmed by Sharia Council [redacted for a reference to a third party ]are documents in the public domain not covered either by the Data Protection Act or legal privilege. Serjeant at Arms sought advice from Speaker’s counsel before responding to me. I cannot imagine that any breach of the Data Protection Act would have occurred in such circumstances. I raised my concerns in the light of the information provided by Serjeant at Arms privately and in confidence to the Guardian Readers’ Editor. I am extremely surprised that any legitimate party to my exchanges with the Guardian Readers’ Editor would then have shared any or all of that information with the likes of a “Sun journalist”.

[redacted]

I trust this will correct some of the misinformation and misrepresentation to which you have been subject and ensure that you do not waste any more of your or my time on this particularly fruitless line of enquiry. As for other matters of which I have no knowledge but which relate to George Galloway and the Respect Party, I would advise you email your questions to, respectively, george.galloway.mp@parliament.uk in the former case and contact@respectparty.org in the latter.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Hoveman

 

 

Ms. Ali Khan provided me with a copy of her SVQ form. It is absolutely clear on the form that the data an employee provides thereon can only be used for parliamentary purposes. This is written on the form itself. I am unsure about the legality of reproducing a parliamentary data form, even a blank one, so at this stage I am not going to do so. However, that warning is written on the form. I do not believe that when the Serjeant-At-Arms sought advice from Speaker’s Counsel they knew that the intention was to give this data to a newspaper. Be that as it may, I nonetheless believe this was not proper and hence my twin complaints.

As to whether this Muslim woman’s private religious documentation was covered by the Data Protection Act, I am not sure. That it would be improper to use parliamentary time and resources to seek this out on a private citizen and pass it to a newspaper, I most certainly believe. Eagle-eyed readers will note that that is not the first time allies of Mr. Galloway have used a Muslim woman’s religious documentation against her.

Clearly, I am stating here that I believe expenses were wrongly used and data was wrongly passed on. It is for the police to decide if they agree that is so. What I can confirm is that the police did decide to investigate my data protection complaint of March 25, and that IPSA did refer my expenses complaint, that of improper use of staff time of this staffer on Ms. Ali Khan, on separate grounds to the Met, yesterday.

I should say that when I put various allegations to Mr. Galloway directly, his lawyers responded to me. One of my questions was if he knew of or approved of the actions of his staffer in the matter of Aisha Ali Khan’s information. Although his lawyers answered several of my questions, they declined to answer this one either to confirm or to deny it.

I am grateful to IPSA for looking into my expenses complaint and referring it to the Metropolitan Police. Despite Mr. Galloway describing me as part of a “New York-Tel Aviv axis of evil,” I will not be deterred in my reporting.

(as the matter concerns one ongoing police investigation, and possibly another should the Met Police decide to take up IPSA’s expenses referral, I am closing comments on the blog today).

bluebells

Advice to Ex-MPs

My sympathies to every MP who lost their seat, except George Galloway, over whose loss I rejoice with all my heart.

When I resigned my seat, for reasons I will never be able to be wholly forthcoming about, the Labour supporter and rugby legend Brian Moore reached out to me on Twitter and advised me to get counseling for the traumatic loss. He compared it to the effect on athletes after their careers finish, after they win, or lose, an Olympic medal say, and then life reverts to normal.

For all MPs, Westminster is a high-stress, high-octane environment. It is full of hard work and excitement. Life there is lived on the edge. You devote your life to public service, the public detest you, and then you lose your seat and for many, a great chunk of your life’s significance in the public eye. In that way, this post could be for anybody who loses a big job, a sports career, or other professional role. [Edited to add – the same applies to MPs staff who lose their jobs, to councillors and several police officers and servicemen/women have tweeted to say it applies to them too – even losing candidates who are no longer PPCs].

For the first year after resigning I thought I was cracking up*. No wonder how much I talked to myself, was sensible and got on with life, my subconscious had other ideas; I had a Parliament-related dream almost every night for a year. It was pretty awful.

In the end, the way I put it behind me was twofold. Firstly, and most importantly, I was able to replace Parliament with another job that is hugely significant to me and which has a component of mission. That’s the single biggest lesson. Secondly, I rededicated myself to political and Conservative activism, on Twitter, with opinion columns, and with this blog which, in the case of Mr. Galloway, I believe has had some impact. I truly flung myself at the campaign and targeted effort on Bradford West (as a feminist and principled case) and South Thanet. If you are Labour or a Tory or a LibDem you are likely a true believer. Remain a true believer and get to work.

However there are also short-term things you can do, and here’s what I think ex-colleagues ought to do for themselves now, in order.

1. Acknowledge that the full impact of this loss will not hit you for several months.

2. Firstly, get the tasks out of the way that need doing – write to your team and thank them all.

3. If possible, take a short break away with friends or a loved one.

4. Do not ruminate. You get more of what you focus on. Ask yourself constantly ‘What’s next for me?’ and have several answers. It will be a long five years til the next election. Do not think in terms now of another seat, but a different job and role. [Adding – psychologically, fixating on a new seat, or other identical role to the one you just lost, is really an attempt to wind back the clock and “fix” what just happened – that cannot be done, so a new role at least for a year or so is wise].

5. Acknowledge you will be prone to depression. The way to combat this is to spend a lot of time outside, especially as the summer comes up. Take up meditation, I recommend the app “Simply Being” here. The effects of meditation, which is 20 minutes clearing the mind of thoughts, are medically proven. Go for walks in green spaces; the countryside, and parks. There are benefits to losing your seat. You have time for yourself, your family, your friends.

6. Take up an exercise programme however moderate. Exercise diminishes stress and produces endorphins not just in the moment, but long-term. It is clinically effective for mild to moderate depression and is a preventative of depression. As you may develop depression it is VERY important to start this at once. Go for a brisk walk or a jog tomorrow and repeat every day, if physically able to do so. You will lose weight, look better and your self-esteem will improve and this will have a knock-on effect of further moderating any sadness.

7. Alcohol is a depressant. Stay away from cheap joy. Try very hard to go for a dry May-June while you regroup. [Adding – as you will be sad you will be more vulnerable to alcohol abuse – that will stop you exercising and being in the sunlight – stay well clear for a month or so] See a therapist if you need to, too.

8. See a lot of comedies. Go to museums, enjoy yourself.

9. Reinvention of the physical self must however be matched with the sensible realization that you will never get over it until you have something as good or better in your life. Look for a job, a charity, a role, that  can replace the adrenaline and octane of Parliament. We are all Type A. Don’t kid yourselves on that one.

10. Tell yourself the truth – you did something important in your life and the only ones who never suffer a defeat are those who never join the field of battle. You should be proud of your public service, and whether you stand again or not in the future, these summer days will not come your way again, nor these fallow years. Do not waste them – go and build a new world and climb a new mountain. We are more than what we do. Be more than your job; be a person and tie your self-esteem to your efforts, not the results of your efforts. You can control the former, not the latter.

PS – I was deadly serious about the magic bullet of exercise, fresh air and green spaces. One of the easiest wins, most in your own control, and implementable instantly, is to get on the scales and then go build a better, stronger, healthier body. New achievements are the antidote to ruminating and looking back. I might add that while you pursue a big new job, which takes time, you can also usefully add other achievements such as learning a language which is an immediate challenge and gives you something to pursue. I loved learning German and Italian with Pimsleur, which are half hour a day audio lessons on iTunes that test you as you listen. Walk in the park while learning French – it gives you a sense of power and achievement right away; after one big role you need new challenges and goals while you try to land the next one.

 

* “cracking up” here relates to my persistent dreams rather than my mental health in general. I was able to stave off depression by flinging myself into exercise and fitness in New York as I advise in this blog. Once you have become depressed it is hard to get out and exercise, so the key thing is to get going before it hits.