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By Lord Moylan
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I am all too familiar with how harsh media attention can be

(Alamy)

3 min read

I have never forgotten a general election hustings in 2005 with Romsey youth council, where one particularly perceptive young woman asked whether there was a danger in putting oneself on a pedestal.

I think I laughed, and replied I was never foolish enough to think I would be a role model for anyone. But she had a good point, by sticking your head above the parapet you’re asking for it to be knocked clean off your shoulders.

And if you’re looking for the blows to your ego to come thick and fast then certainly politics is an ideal career.  

I have been called it all over the years, some deserved and some less so

I have been called it all over the years, some deserved and some less so. My hair, make up and clothes choices have all come under the microscope, ditto my weight and my eyebrows. They don’t match apparently, something I got through 46 years of my life without knowing. But for a period of time in 2018 to 2019 if you Googled ‘Caroline Nokes’ the next word to autocomplete was eyebrows. I even suffered a lockdown Zoom when a colleague messaged to say, “They’re right you know, all those people on the internet, your eyebrows really don’t match.”

It’s provoked consultations with numerous aestheticians, beauticians, even tattoo artists. They have all sought to reassure me there is nothing remarkable about my mismatched eyebrows, after all they’re meant to be sisters not twins.  

I’ve often been attacked for my fat thighs and short skirts. Yes, I am considerably fatter than in 2001 when I first stood for parliament, but I was not quite 30 then and I am now well over 50. I have been criticised for posing in “a leopard print suit”, despite the fact that I don’t own one and have never worn one. God knows where that came from. Perhaps the viewer mistook me for Mel B?

There is a chap who watches Channel 4 News and every time I appear on it he emails instantly to tell me to get off his screen because I am “putting him off his dinner”. I have had unsolicited medical advice for my lupus, acne, thyroid issues, and guidance on what hair colour or style would suit me better. I am sure every single piece of advice has been well intentioned, and it has been mere slip of the keyboard finger that has meant it manifested as, “You look like Worzel Gummidge.” 

For the record, I am not marrying Pete, the man I was recently seen talking to in McDonald’s, although he did at least have the good grace to laugh hysterically at the suggestion that he would wish to invite that level of intrusion into his life. Neither am I pregnant, I am 51 for goodness sake, it’s just fatness.  

So, to improve my answer to the keen youth council member, the political pedestal is fraught with danger, and it’s best to learn very early on to be able to laugh at oneself. Because if I had taken all of the above seriously I don’t think I would have ever made it out of the house, let alone into this one. 

 

Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North and chair of the Women and Equalities Committee

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