cabinet reshuffle - why does no-one believe Alan Milburn wants to spend more time with his family?

(22 Posts)
bossykate Sat 14-Jun-03 10:14:09

i've been rather irritated with some of the comments in the media about alan milburn's resignation. why is it so impossible to believe he might actually want to spend more time with his family - is it because he's a man?

have also read vox pop comments on the bbc website saying that people who aren't prepared to give up family commitments shouldn't do the job.

what does everyone else think of this or any other cabinet reshuffle issues?

WideWebWitch Sat 14-Jun-03 10:59:31

Bk maybe because 'wanting to spend more time with his family' is so often a euphemism for 'he was crap so we forced him to resign' I suppose. But you're right, if it is a genuine reason then he shouldn't be castigated for it, no-one would batt an eyelid if a woman said the same. In fact the view might very well be 'of course she needs to spend more time with her family' - I mean, look at the stick Nicola Horlick <substitute name of any high profile woman with children here> got/gets for working! I so wish work/life balance was taken seriously in this country for men *and* women and that this attitude of 'people who aren't prepared to give up family commitments shouldn't do the job' would just become completely unacceptable. We really have got the work ethic/balance thing all wrong in this country I think. I have been surprised at interviews since having a child - many interviewers have asked me about childcare arrangments and I *really* don't think they'd EVER ask my husband the same question - in fact, does anyone know a man who's been asked? Sexism (working both ways as in the case of Alan Milburn) is so entrenched. I'm straying off topic here but those are my brief thoughts.

bossykate Sat 14-Jun-03 13:57:32

yes, www, it is often used euphemistically as you describe. however, given that it has come as a total shock to everyone, i doubt if it is being used as a face saving ploy to ease AM out gently - isn't he one of blair's most loyal, erm, blairites?!

eidsvold Sat 14-Jun-03 14:00:16

I just wonder if he was given a personal ultimatum and figured he did not want to lose what he had at home.....

codswallop Sat 14-Jun-03 14:22:16

I think there is more to come out..

bossykate Sat 14-Jun-03 17:30:28

yes, eidsvold, i've been wondering that too. you may well be right, codswallop. the whole thing (reshuffle, that is) looks like a bit of a dog's breakfast.

Philippat Sat 14-Jun-03 21:04:50

The thing is, you don't suddenly get to cabinet level and realise 'oh it's a lot of work'. There's a whole career building up to that point which is just as much, if not more work for an ambitious MP. So, yes, I think there's more behind it on a personal level.

But, TBH, MP's hours are crazy if you want a family too (in any real family sense) and I'd say any comments that help towards that have got to be a good thing in the long run.

Bossanova Sat 14-Jun-03 23:53:06

I think that it could actually be true in this case that he wants to spend time with his family. I read that he looked 'exhausted' the other day because he had made a 700 mile round trip to go and see his son's school play. Surely that sort of life must get to you eventually however much you enjoy your job. Another thing people don't seem to have considered is that he or a member of his family could have some sort of serious illness and they want to spend time together.

prufrock Sun 15-Jun-03 22:23:39

I think it could be more true that his partner wants him to spend more time with his family. She apparently insisted that he resign now rather than wait a month or so as Blair asked him to do. And why shouldn't she? She has a good career of her own and was probably getting tired of effectively being a working single parent. I'm sure many of us would have something to say to our dh/p's if they were working a 70 hour week at the other end of the country and leaving us to bring up two small children, especially if we were holding down a responsible job too. There comes a point in everybodies career when you have to ask whether the advancement is worth the other things you give up. I would imagine that in a fickle world like politics, where you could be left with nothing if you make one well publicised screw up, it is even harder to sacrifice your realtionship with your kids and possibly your partner for the hopes of future power. I may be niave, but I really want to believe that there is nothing more to this.

fio2 Mon 16-Jun-03 07:45:48

prufock my dh is at the opposite end of the country to me all week whilst I look after our 2 small children, and it is bloody hard-for both of us. Alot of people nowadays have to work away-move around etc and if his wife is earning good enough money on her own it seems fesible to me for him to be able to resign.

motherinferior Mon 16-Jun-03 08:17:51

Damn good for her if she did, I think. I do suspect there was more going on, because I too think you just don't go into politics - certainly at that level - without realising your so-called work/life balance is going to be work with bits of 'life' slotted in round the edges. But if she did feel that she's got rather more in life than Standing By Her Man, hurrah.

WWW - aren't those questions illegal? I'm freelance so I don't get asked them; but what I do get is an assumption that I work with dd frolicking round my ankles (yeah, right, you'd take a strong-minded two-year-old to your office, would you?) plus an assumption that her father can drop everything and go off on work stuff that requires overnight stays because he DOESN'T have childcare responsibilities. Particularly annoying as I actually earn more in four days than he does in five!

WideWebWitch Mon 16-Jun-03 08:47:53

Motherinferior, techncally, those questions aren't illegal. I know because I checked with the EOC at the time (I was annoyed) and was told they're not recommended but not illegal, unfortunately. If someone knows different please let me know. Yep, I know that assumption about men with children and dropping everything. Equally irritating.

Having read more about this at the weekend it does sound as if Alan Milburn genuinely wanted/was forced to spend more time with his family. And it does seem to have brought the whole work/life balance debate to the fore again briefly so that can only be a good thing I think. Oh, and there's a new minister for children which should be interesting.

marialuisa Mon 16-Jun-03 10:08:01

Isn't his partner a consultant? Sounds like a pretty nighmareish career combination. Suspect she has potential to earn more than him and he's probably made a few boardroom contacts by now...

Anyway, agree with all the comments about work/life balance and am particularly in accordance with men and childcare thing. Friend has recently given up career that took years of study because her more high-flying DH went ballistic because he had to pick up their DS from nursery (sudden vomiting) and they couldn't contact her because she was in surgery. He didn't take the baby home but kept him in the office until friend turned up 3hours later!!!

Marina Mon 16-Jun-03 10:08:31

www, it would be if it weren't Margaret Hodge, fresh from delighting all in HE with her views on new universities and tuition fees. I have always felt her to be a very over-rated member of the Cabinet.
I agree with others here who have said that there is more to this decision than falling on your sword career-wise - whatever one may think of the Foundation Trust status plans that Alan Milburn was taking forward, he seems to have been doing a good job in Health and was liked by both NHS management and Unison.
I am trying to take a positive view of his decision in that it might encourage more men to consider whether they can make sacrifices for their families' sake. I'd like to think he is sincere in his concern for the wellbeing of his partner and children.
I am trying not to see it in a cynical light, but politicians do rather bring it on themselves...

quackers Mon 16-Jun-03 10:08:50

The new Minister for Children look a right wet chip, coming out with a load of rubbish in her first interview. I can't imagine that she will make much of a difference, it's such a huge task and needs somene a little more resiliant and forthcoming! 'interesting' will be about right I think!

aloha Mon 16-Jun-03 12:07:17

I think putting that witch Margaret Hodge in charge of children is like putting Idi Amin in charge of the vegetarian society. When she ran Islington Council she presided over terrible child abuse. The care homes for children there were practically run by paedophilic pimps. The abused children were desperate for help and pleaded with the council to intervene but their pleas were ignored. The Evening Standard did a brilliant investigation into the whole appalling situation, and she refused to investigate and called it 'gutter journalism'. A subsequent inquiry vindicated everything the paper published and Margaret Hodge had to apologise. I have vowed never to vote labour while she is in the Labour Party, and when I heard of her latest job I really thought the whole world has gone mad. I think it's sick.

bossykate Mon 16-Jun-03 12:27:21

she is v. good mates with tony and cherie...

WideWebWitch Mon 16-Jun-03 12:29:47

Aloha, sitting on that fence again hey? OK, not good news then...

motherinferior Mon 16-Jun-03 13:06:21

Mind you, I have to say being mates with T&C is probably a punishment in itself. I always get the impression that one would turn up for dinner with a bottle which got looked at sniffily and put prominently aside for the evening while people talked New Labour over one's head.

Be interesting if a man was put in charge of children, wouldn't it?

carriemac Mon 16-Jun-03 21:08:36

So alan wants to spend more time with his family bult wanted to force consultants to work evenings and weekends at their managers discretion? 2 faced or what?

fio2 Mon 16-Jun-03 21:23:37

what kind of consultants?

Marina Tue 17-Jun-03 09:30:42

Medical practitioners fio2. Maybe he threw in the towel partly because he realised as a parent that some of his reforms were unworkable and unacceptable, Carriemac?

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