Saturday, 9 July 2016

Motherhood,business and politics


Motherhood, business, politics.
I can identify closely with each of the above, yes, I’m a mother, a businesswoman and I am fascinated by politics. But there are other, possibly equally important aspects of my being –sports fan, widow, comic (I think I’m very funny sometimes), writer, friend….

Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom’s faux pas in trying to attack her opponent Theresa May on her childless status in her recent Times newspaper interview is at best tactless and insensitive and at worst (hopefully) political suicide.

Or will it be political suicide? How many ‘yummy mummies’ will see this as a good enough reason to favour an apparently inexperienced chancer with a flexible attitude to truth over a heavyweight cabinet minister with nearly two decades in top tier politics.

I have had the privilege during my career to have met and worked with some phenomenal women, and their motherhood status has never been a consideration. Please judge us by what we do, how we behave and not our fertility or desire to reproduce.

I am becoming increasingly weary with the martyr approach to motherhood. Firstly being a mother is a gift – a precious gift – but not a badge of honour. There are hordes of women who ache to be mothers but for a variety of reasons this has just not happened. Most of these women live fruitful, fulfilling and happy lives. There are equally as many women who have chosen not have children yet find themselves unreasonably having to explain their decision – often to strangers who have no right to ask the question in the first place.

Leadsom’s premise that having children makes her care more than her opponent about the future of the country is, in my opinion, offensive and erroneous.
The motherhood mafia is epitomised by the website Mumsnet. While I concede that this site offers support and help for many mothers, the core of this concept is that motherhood is especially challenging. Yes, it can be tough, but no tougher than climbing the greasy pole in the workplace, managing a difficult relationship with your partner, caring for an elderly relative, coping with a needy friend, juggling finances and every other rose petal or thorn in the pot pouri that is life.

A quick glance at Mumsnet today offers the following headline,  ‘Does anyone else not enjoy the newborn stage?’ Duh? Does anyone enjoy interrupted nights, your precious little bundle regurgitating his or her food over your shoulder just as you’ve changed into your best top, stinking nappies etc etc? But does anyone enjoy that first smile, gurgle, giggle, look of wonder at the world around them? Of course you do – it all goes with the territory – it is nature and it’s nothing new. So please get over it.
Another section of this site for mothers advises the readers how to ‘survive’ a car journey with toddlers. Survive? Are we being just a touch dramatic ladies?

Possibly the most annoying section of the motherhood community is those mums in caf├ęs and restaurants who feel that it is necessary for some reason to speak to their little darlings just a few decibels higher than is really necessary, while parking their designer buggies right in front of the exit or route to the loos. Loosely translated their high pitched meanderings come across as ‘look at me – I’ve pro-created’

I don’t care if the next prime minister is male or female, married or single, gay or straight. What I do care is that they are the best person for the job, that they will have integrity and demonstrate the ability to negotiate and lead. Most of all, the successful candidate should not try to take personal credit for some good fortune that nature has bestowed upon them.

And a final word for Ms Leadsom – if you are successful in leading the Tory party – you’ll need to build a good relationship with one of the most powerful and respected women of this millennium so far – Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. Oh – and you might want to take note – Ms Merkel has no children.