And another one bites the dust. The stand-down of Andrea Leadsom from the Tory party leadership race yesterday means that even the vaguely substantial, slimly qualified prospects for the leadership of the party, and that small matter of steering the country from The Edge of Oblivion, have been filtered down to precisely one. If it wasn’t already bad enough that the next leader of our country was going to be selected by 150,000 members of the Conservative Party, now they also have no choice. Bizarre.
Ok, for a moment, put aside the embarrassingly shambolic Brexit fall-out on both sides of the aisle. And let’s skim over the fact that the well-jowled faces that led us into this mess are precisely nowhere. Because the question that is concerning me right now is how exactly have we ended up in a situation where one of the oldest democracies in the world will appoint a leader who no one has chosen.
Well, to put it bluntly, a chuffin’ ridiculous question was asked.
Over the weekend Leadsom was the subject of banner headlines that shouted from the rooftops how she considered her status as a mother a credible qualification for running an entire country: “Being a mother gives me the edge over May” . I mean, I’m all for celebrating the considerable negotiation skills that it takes to convince the average three-year-old that pants and a pair of fairy wings are not appropriate attire for leaving the house, but really? She followed this
fucking insane interesting claim with the assertion that having children gave her a “very real stake” in the future of the country, arguably suggesting that, unbeknownst to us all, the childless May has dedicated herself to politics since 1997 in order to rise through the ranks and qualify for front row seats while the country burns down around her.
Leadsom allegedly continued to say that she thinks May must be “really sad” not to have children and well, this has truly hakunaa’d-my-tatas. I’m willing to put aside my concern that shouting about motherhood in this context simply makes me think “Shit, she’s got nothing”, because the bigger issue now is that a question that should have been about a person’s ability to lead a country, has been reduced to a woman’s choice (or otherwise) whether or not to have children.
Well, I call bollocks on that.
It is true that some reasoned, intelligent comments have been made about how having a child changes you, and your relationship with the world around you. This in itself is fair enough as pre-children I certainly had more patience, bladder control and hair, and I was without doubt guilty of underplaying the importance of CBeebies as a preventative measure against alcohol abuse in the 25-35 age group. But surely the leap from here to the idea that a woman’s (because let’s call a uterus a uterus, this is about both candidates being women) familiarity with the mantras of modern parenting actually affects their ability to scrabble away at salvaging some vestige of dignity for “Great” Britain is ridiculous? Somehow, I just can’t imagine Merkel or Juncker will give two fingers of fudge about an offer of chocolate buttons in return for doing what they are told, nor will the assertion that “It’s just a phase” win us any playtime friends. Although to be fair, they may have a little more tolerance for the too-tired-to-stop-my-child-scratching-in-the-gutter-parent’s favourite slogan, “Let them be little”.
And then there is the offensive matter of Leadsom’s alleged assertion that May must be “sad” thanks to her shrivelled, under-utilised lady-bits. I mean, perhaps she is heartbroken that she never got to experience the strangeness that is wanting to eat your offspring, so overwhelmed you are by your love for them. But surely just as possible is the fact that May is dancing in the aisles with joy at the lifetime of decent sleep and guilt-free focus on her career that being childFREE has afforded her. Who the chuff knows? And honestly, who the FUCK cares?
For the record, Leadsom herself has since said in an interview with The Telegraph that she “absolutely said…that motherhood should not play a part in the campaign…I was pressed to say how my children had formed my views… Having children has no bearing on the ability to be Prime Minister.” Well, in that case, exactly why did you say that being a mother would make you a better Prime Minster, when in fact what you meant was that being a mother would not make you a better Prime Minister?
But actually, this is still not the game.
Regardless of what your opinion is on Leadsom’s comments – whether you think she is naive, inexperienced or rather charmingly, “thick as pig shit”as one commentator put it – is irrelevant. The question that really needs to be posed is, “Why was that question even asked?”
In essence, would a man have been asked the same?
Well, in short, I doubt it. But even this question niggles, implying as it does a grumpy divisive rhetoric of “Well, I bet men don’t have to put up with this shit.” This, while true, pits men against women with its implicit suggestion that men are NOT asked this question because their role as fathers is less highly valued in a child’s life than the role of the mother. But that’s a whole other 666 (and counting) words of opinion, so I’m not going to get into that debate right now. Instead, the question that has been burning a hole in my keyboard, the one that I really want to ask is, “When is the media going to grow up?”
In this time when our country has been divided by In vs Out while some over-privileged men took their time to shake it all about; while another slightly important country across the pond is being rent by racial division, what we, The People, need is for the media to stop going in for the easy win, the most shocking headline.
Instead, wouldn’t it be refreshing if they just did their chuffin’ job and educated and INFORMED people?
Stop asking stupid, pointless questions in an attempt to trip an inexperienced, naive, or just plain wrong MP into making stupid, pointless comments so you can write a stupid and pointless story. Just stop it. The question is irrelevant. The answer, although exposing a worrying level of naivety from someone positioning herself as the next leader of our country, is irrelevant.
As an electorate we have been complaining for years that our politics has been dragged into the gutter but let’s be honest, so has the media. It is frustrating that the people in charge of the flow of information from one place to another seem to have forgotten, or simply do not care, that there are intelligent people out there who are relying on them.
I get that you have “a job to do”, and I get that this shit sells, but PLEASE we need intelligence and thought right now. After all if all we wanted was substandard research, sensationalist writing and spurious opinion, we’d all just read blogs.