Do parents make better political leaders? – BBC News
1 month, 1 day ago
Theresa May’s status as a married woman with no infants came into focus during her leadership campaign. But does being a mother build you a better political leader?
As Mrs May prepares to settle in to Number 10 and David Cameron moves his family out, “were not receiving” denying the prime minister’s mansion will shortly be a quieter place, without young children living there.
Mrs May joins a number of female political leaders who do not have children of their own, including the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Yet topics over the influence of household on a politician’s leadership have led to fierce debate.
Mrs May’s Tory leadership challenger indicated it did matter. Andrea Leadsom claimed that “being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake”.
An angry backlash among MPs and on social media indicated however that many people did not agree that being a parent made a difference to a leader’s credentials.
Deputy Commons Leader Therese Coffey, a friend of Mrs Leadsom, told: “I don’t think it matters whether someone has children.
“Everybody has different life experiences … of course this gives you a perspective but we are talking about someone who has to lead our country. I genuinely think we should be looking at the bigger issues facing the country.”
But Mrs Leadsom is not the only one who believes being a mother is relevant in politics.
She believed being a mother meant Ms Cooper would “know what challenges ordinary people face day to day” and would “champion families”.
‘Flaw in personality’
The emphasis on a politician’s family life is certainly nothing new, and not only waged at women.
When Iain Duncan Smith campaigned to become Conservative party leader in 2001 he was championed as being “a remarkably normal family man”, equally adept at changing nappies as he was at changing social policy.
Elsewhere, former PM Gordon Brown’s love life was the cause of much speculation where reference is became Labour’s chancellor.
Questions over why he was unmarried and childless at persons under the age of 46 led to a run-in with Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs.
“People want to know whether you’re gay or whether there is some flaw in your personality, ” she told, forcing Mr Brown to reply: “I’m not married because I’m not married. It merely hasn’t happened yet.”