I have a confession to make. I found yesterday's UK Uncut protest intimidatory and distressing. Not that I went or anything. In fact, I was so intimidated I stayed at home. I couldn't risk taking my child to an event that I knew dangerous and wreckless thugs would be at. Who could forget the events of March 26th last year, when hundreds violent hooligans - many of them armed and looking for trouble - arrested all my friends?
As it turned out, on this occasion I needn't have worried about police - they assembled peacefully and dispersed in an orderly fashion. Sadly, that doesn't change the fact that their past behaviour made me feel they were too dangerous and unpredictable to be around. Still, thankfully, many children and parents did attend, and while they were perfectly safe from the flailing baton of the state, they've had to put up with some truly vile and aggressive abuse from our nation's politicians, amongst other trolls.
For those of you who don't know, UK Uncut held an anti-austerity street party in Nick Clegg's street. There were balloons, bubbles, streamers, bunting and cake. I missed the cake the most. It all looked a lot like this...
... and was described by the right as an act of thuggish terrorism which crossed a line and made UK Uncut no better than the BNP. One of the worst offenders was Corby MP and inveterate troll Louise Mensch, who demanded her legion of incredulous followers make up for the distress caused to Nick Clegg's family by donating to the Liberal Democrats. The push was hugely successfully, doubling the party's campaign coffers and raising almost £6. As if throwing deckchairs onto the Titanic wasn't enough events continued to embarrass, as it later transpired that UK Uncut had chosen to protest on a day when Nick Clegg's family would be elsewhere, and that other children who lived on the street came out and joined in the fun. Smelling blood, mainly her own, Louise has continued the offensive today (making this her 751st consecutive day of offensiveness), declaring that protests near MPs homes should be banned altogether. While this is no more likely to take off than her prior demand that Twitter and Facebook be banned during civil unrest (as they are in China and Iran), it does display a shocking level of contempt for pretty much everyone who isn't her.
You see, though her performances suggest otherwise, Louise Mensch isn't thick. She knows that bubbles and cake don't really scare children and she knows better than most of the rabid right, that UK Uncut aren't "targeting" or "harassing" anyone. They've always been cool, creative and non-threatening. The problem is, she doesn't really care about kids and families. There were dozens of children - including the children of Nick Clegg's neighbours - who she had no problem libelling as "thugs" simply because they hold an opinion she disagrees with. The real reason she went on the warpath against Uncutters yesterday isn't because she cares. It's because she believes that the DPM and PM's close friendship means that standing up for Clegg is a surefire way of burying her nose firmly in Cameron's arse, and maybe helping her pocket that ministerial position she so clearly covets (my money would be on Culture, Media and Sports once Hunt resigns).
You might think this is unfair. Perhaps Louise Mensch really does believe families are off limits. But if so, why is she a Conservative? The party has repeatedly lobbied to take away benefits from mums and dads whose kids get out of line, whether by incurring ASBOs or just playing truant. After the riots, the Tories attacked the families of the youngsters who'd taken to the streets - not by standing outside their homes blowing bubbles, but by threatening to go inside and evict the occupants. Then there are the families and communities shattered by welfare cuts, and the kids who've lost their future along with their EMA.
Most deplorably, Louise has now struck out at the very rights we rely on to safeguard our democracy. Mensch reads enough newspapers to have seen the shocking pictures coming out of the Middle East, and knows that they are the work of a group of true thugs who began by cracking down on protest. Yet still she tried to push us down that same route, on the very day most of us have been shocked into silence by the images we've seen. Mensch's rhetoric isn't just disgusting, it's dangerous, and makes me genuinely fear for my own child's future. She should feel ashamed of herself.
She won't, of course. These people don't matter to Louise Mensch. They're the families, the children of people who can do nothing for her - too poor, too dispossessed or just too nice to be rungs on her imagined career ladder. If I'm wrong, then there is an easy way for Ms Mensch to prove it. She knows that she owes everyone who protested yesterday, and the people of this country, an apology. Louise - forget trying to buy Nick Clegg's affections. It's time to really put your money where your mouth is, and say sorry.