Ian Duncan Smith suggests having a family makes for a better leader

(100 Posts)
squeezed Sat 02-Jul-16 06:37:19

I know that I might be reading too much into this given my excessive consumption of the news in the last few weeks. IDS has stated that he supports Andrea Leadsom because "I believe that Andrea's strong family background, business experience, compassion, commitment to social justice and dedication will make her a great prime minister for the UK," link Is this suggesting that Theresa May is less capable because she doesn't have children? There does seem to be judgement on people who are not parents, particularly women, and their abilities due to not having children. By the way I don't support the Conservative party, so it is merely an observation.

DetestableHerytike Sat 02-Jul-16 06:48:40

Strong family background usually means how you grew up, doesn't it?

May has a massive lead at present.

WashboardAnkles Sat 02-Jul-16 06:50:25

'Strong family background' doesn't necessarily mean having children. We all have a family background, some stronger than others.

I think you are taking offence for the sake of it TBH and I find this kind of nit picking very annoying.

I hope Theresa May wins. TBH anyone other than Gove will do.

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 02-Jul-16 06:51:00

I had a rant on a thread that touched on this issue in AIBU yesterday. I knew it would only be a matter of time before Teresa May's not having children was wheeled out as if it were in any way relevant to her capabilities. It riles me when code words like "strong family background" are used. Say what you mean! You don't trust people, particularly women, who deviate from the "norm".

Here's the rant I pasted, the thread I took it from ( here ) moves on to touch on why women can't ever get it right, children or no children, because the game's rigged.

<<<< OK, here's an example that fired me up so much I wrote a lot about it, so have some of the quotations to hand. During the scottish referendum campaign, it was suggested that as Nichola Sturgeon doesn't have children, she was for that reason unfit to run the country. here's the link There was an outpouring of agreement with this sentiment.

I harvested a few choice remarks from the comments on this article- I use this example, as Theresa May is mentioned, so I think it will absolutely be used as a stick to beat her:

"Anyone who has ever spoken to people who, by choice, do not want to have children knows how self centred these people are”;
“OMG, they are both childless! Didn't know that. It's a valid point as they would care far more for the here and now then for the future generations”;
“It's a shame their parents weren't childless, too!”;
“We have the same problem with childless Elites at Westminster, not just Hague and May, but a good few of the cabinet cannot relate to the fears and struggles of normal people with children”;
“the female-only short list is not coming up with regular women, which are the women that need to be represented.”;
“It's true that all politicians are considered more reliable and trustworthy if they are family people”;
“That's why family people are more trusted, and it's highly applicable here”;
“some people are not meant to breed, natures way for cutting out the rif-raf”.

Do you see what I mean? And yes, I know it's from the Daily Mail comments, so it's not likely to be a bastion of forward thinking, but...these are commonly held views.>>>>>

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 02-Jul-16 06:53:18

Oops, posted before I finished. I wanted to conclude that politically, I care for neither Sturgeon or May, can't abide either of them really, but the fact that they've never sprogged is completely irrelevant to their leadership capabilities.

annandale Sat 02-Jul-16 06:53:51

Interesting. I think increasingly that men are judged in the same way about this in fact - they will wheel out their children at calculated moments and I'll admit to quite liking the image of a family man that presents despite knowing it shouldn't affect my judgment of them. However, it's plain weird to have that as the first qualification on the list for someone and I haven't heard that for a man, no. So I think you're right, it's a not very subtle differentiation between May and Leadsom.

NikiSaintPhalle Sat 02-Jul-16 06:55:37

I agree, OP, and think it's fairly obvious. Only the 'strong' bit is also code for 'respectable' eg. 'no children out of wedlockand/or at an age the average Tory considers inappropriately young, and no divorces'.

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 02-Jul-16 06:56:47

Bum, the original link didn't paste over: here it is

DetestableHerytike Sat 02-Jul-16 06:57:41

Ugh, freshwater. That's all horrible.

I have no idea if Ids, Crabbe, leadsom, fox have children. I assume leadsom does from the context of the post.

I know may doesn't from an interview and I know gove does because of some furore about which school they went to.

I think it's utterly irrelevant to politics. Politicians need to represent thousands of people who aren't like them: young, old, male, female etc. Why would commenters pick on this one characteristic?

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 02-Jul-16 07:07:13

I think that's how it should be, Herytike - we should genuinely not be able to remember if our leaders have children or not, or if as Niki says, they have them in Daily Mail approved ways or not, because it's irrelevant. But we do know, and judgements are made at a knee jerk level. annandale, the phrase "family man" is a weird one, isn't it? Interesting shorthand for reliable, stable, trustworthy etc, but why do these characteristics attach to fathers, and what does that say about how we think of men who aren't fathers? Not quite the vitriol attached to women who aren't mothers, but the suspicion and mistrust that it speaks to aren't pleasant either.

VikingVolva Sat 02-Jul-16 07:08:36

I would take 'strong family background' to mean any part of your family, not specifically the having of children.

But I can't ever remember a male politician having their family background highlighted, unless it's part of a biog. It's just not a quality that's mentioned of men in terms of leadership. OTOH, they might be praised for having a fragrant wife, and that's probably no better.

LurcioAgain Sat 02-Jul-16 07:47:52

The "family man" thing used to be used a propos of men as a piece of homophobia ("look, he has a wife and kids, he's 100% not gay!") - and I absolutely agree it is used in connection with women as a piece of misogyny.

powershowerforanhour Sat 02-Jul-16 08:16:07

If he means upbringing, does that mean he is slagging off Stephen Crabb?

squeezed Sat 02-Jul-16 08:27:13

In this statement "strong family background" is suggested as a quality to make you a good leader. I think it has been referred to as something that has been consciously worked towards rather than born into. Almost like it's a professional achievement or a personality trait that someone has a spouse, children and supportive extended family. Therefore it references the immediate family she has rather than the family are was born into. Of course the statement could also mean that IDS doesn't think someone who is single and from a chaotic background has the qualities to be leader.

squeezed Sat 02-Jul-16 08:29:09

powershower I was thinking that could also be the case.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 02-Jul-16 10:00:33

I'm in Scotland but unlike so many mumsnetters I don't read the Daily Mail so I don't recall there being anything said about Sturgeon's lack of suitability on those grounds. There were plenty of substantive reasons for opposing independence, all of which still exist.

VestalVirgin Sat 02-Jul-16 10:38:36

Well, it has been found that male politicians with daughters make more women-friendly laws than male politicians who don't have daughters.

However, for women, no such connection has been proven, so ... whether they have children is only ever relevant for male politicians, and sons don't count.

And, in the end, you can just look at someone's politics, anyway - there's no guarantee that men with daughters love their daughters enough for that to impact their politics.

Jenesaberpas Sat 02-Jul-16 13:35:38

Having a personal stake in the future of the country after you're gone certainly can't be a bad thing for the person in charge.

DetestableHerytike Sat 02-Jul-16 13:42:32

Very few childless people have ok personal stake in the future - nieces, nephews, godchildren etc.

Regardless, politicians know that pensioners tend to vote more and that they need to bear that in mind if they want to be around for a second five year term

ladyballs Sat 02-Jul-16 13:45:21

I agree OP. And as a childless woman it is wearing to hear that I have no stake in the future. hmm

Owllady Sat 02-Jul-16 13:45:32

Freshwater, it had already been mentioned 're her not having children and ite why I started the thread (as it made me angry and I'm not a Tory!)
Ids is an odious toad angry

Jenesaberpas Sat 02-Jul-16 13:45:49

Straight in with the sarcasm there.

For the majority, the love for their own children is on a different level to that for other people's children.

Dozer Sat 02-Jul-16 13:49:15

He obviously does mean having/not having DC, or else he's implying that to be PM you have to have had naice, reputable parents and siblings, which would be equally pointless criteria since candidates can't pick their family!

William Hague had this kind of stuff and stories implying he is gay.

ladyballs Sat 02-Jul-16 13:54:05

Sarcasm? Just irritated at unthinking adherence to a patriarchal trope.

Owllady Sat 02-Jul-16 13:56:46

Yes, 're William Hague and his poor wife had miscarriages sad
It's just vile

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