The rise of Theresa May and the decline of British politics
Amy Davidson has a good column in the New Yorker which is worth reading. From the column:
The final self-inflicted blow, by May’s last-standing rival, the Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, was what might be called Mum-gate. It started when the Times of London ran an interview with Leadsom on Friday with the headline:
BEING A MOTHER GIVES ME EDGE ON MAY—LEADSOM
Tory minister says she will be better leader because childless home secretary lacks ‘stake in future’
It went on to quote Leadsom, who often included the phrase “as a mum” in her pro-Leave statements, as saying that May “possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.” This, she said, set her apart from May as a potential leader. She added, “I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn’t have children, so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t,’ because I think that would be really horrible.” But, she went on, “genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.” In other words, Andrea has children; Theresa hasn’t.
As a matter of logic, this disparagement of childless leaders is ludicrous. There are good and bad leaders with and without children, and one can just as glibly argue that the focus on one’s own children’s fortunes can be distracting for a politician. Among the more incoherent elements in Leadsom’s remarks to theTimes was that May might think about the long-term state of the economy, while she herself would be properly focussed on her children’s more immediate job prospects. It is all the more strange for a spokesperson for Leave, a campaign built around the irrational power of patriotism, to assume that abstract love of country would not be motive enough. And, as a matter of politics, Leadsom’s comments were a wreck. She insulted the childless, and she seemed personally cruel to May, who has quietly said in the past that she is, indeed, sad about having never had children. (May, who is fifty-nine, has been married to her husband, a banker she met when they were both students at Oxford, for thirty-five years.)