I wrote a while ago about the leadership election for the Conservative Party. Andrea Leadsom spoke about the fact that she had children and therefore had more of a stake in the future than someone who didn’t. The unfortunate part of this was that the person who will be our Prime Minister had only spoken a couple of days before about the sadness of not being able to have children. Ouch. I am very sure that Leadsom was not making this point quite as pointedly as the media made out – but once you stick your head above the parapet the press are very unforgiving.
It is not unusual for politicians to parade their families to show how “human” they are. Whether it is walking hand in hand with their spouse or parading the children – Hilary Clinton speaks often about being a mother and grandmother and Donald Trump’s children are his advisers and always on the platform with him. Who cares....
It did set me thinking about what impact being a parent has on your suitability for a post. Having a child is a life changing event – as is losing a parent (especially when you are young) losing a partner, a life-threatening illness or serious but not life threatening illness, losing your job – the list is endless and they all change you, but they don’t provide you with the skills and experience to better perform a role.
Andy Murray seemed to think that becoming a father had helped him win Wimbledon. I am sure being in a happy and stable relationship has helped too. But his only professional concern has to be himself – that is what tennis is all about and his emotional state can have an impact on his performance.
Being a mother certainly accustoms you to managing on very little or disrupted sleep – as does being a nurse or doctor, an ambulance driver or shift worker; a lawyer or banker working through the night to close a deal...
Very few cabinet members have experience in the sector where they hold portfolios (the Canadian Defence minister is a much decorated soldier which perhaps is the exception!). To all the politicians – I don’t want to know about your personal life unless it seriously impacts your professional life, I really just want to know that you are competent and can do the job, manage your colleagues and challenge your advisers (and ensure that they challenge you.)
For the voter – it is a leap of faith – but then it always is.