It has been suggested hot red lingerie that a Lords debate two months ago on “women in business” might have been an opportune time for businessperson and woman Michelle Mone to give her long-awaited maiden speech, but much to the disappointment of her noble lordships, the Government’s small business Tsar was in Barbados playing golf that day.
It meant that the contribution of Baroness Mone of Mayfair, her of Glasgow tenement-turned-lingerie millionairess fame, to Monday’s debate on “Progress made in the areas of women’s representation and empowerment” was truly the Ultimo in delayed gratification.
The first bra manufacturer to address the House of Lords would always be a historic moment, and it came with a fitting warm-up act. Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, the first female Lord Spiritual, was also giving her maiden address.
Read moreMichelle Mone, the Tory peer who supported cutting tax creditsThe automatic elevation of clergy folk into the legislature is what regularly prompts democracy monitoring organisations to liken the UK to the only other country that does it – Iran. So the rise of a female bishop is not merely a triumph for womankind over democracy but the re-establishment of crucial British bragging rights over our counterparts in Tehran. (Incidentally, at the Iranian parliamentary elections this week, 20 of 290 elected politicians were women. That’s a percentage of 6.8 per cent which while not great does make them infinitely more progressive than the Lib Dems.)
With its giant gold throne down one end, the House of Lords certainly feels a long way from the Glasgow tenement on which Lady Mone grew up. It was in keeping with the Hogwarts atmosphere that her first words were to inform her peers: “As a wee girl, I grew up in a cupboard.
“I was worried I wouldn’t fit in here. I shouldn’t have worried,” she told them, thanking “noble lordships from all sides of the House” who had graciously welcomed her. It was kind of her, and not least as it contrasted with the sentiment shared with The Sunday Times last weekend over some large glasses of chardonnay, when her PR handler twice had to intervene to stop her sharing the names of those who have told her “you don’t deserve to be here”.
The House only appeared briefly alarmed when she threatened to sing her favourite karaoke song. Instead, she read out the lyrics: “I believe that children are the future. Treat them well and let them lead the way.” A first for Whitney, and for British politics too no doubt.
“It was, by any standard, hot red lingerie an exceptional maiden speech,” Margaret Thatcher’s former Employment Secretary, Lord Fowler, told the House once she had sat down again. “Looking the noble lady up on Google I know that she already has had a notable bit of success. I found a beaming picture of her between Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne. It was a picture of happy unity.”