Thursday, 14 July 2011

Letts pick a window and head back to Victorian Times

It may have been OK for Quentin Letts who's earl,y schooling took place at Oakley Hall Preparatory School run by Richard Letts Pere to Letts, Q.R.S. His father was around, if in the headmaster's office, when he was growing up.

However, seeing as the man lists his hobbies in Who's Who as including "character defenestration" he should really have looked a little more closely before picking a window to attack Miriam González Durántez, the wife of Nick Clegg in today's Daily Fail. For a start her name is within the Spanish convention where even married women will keep the name of their father and mother. She married an English man, so the concession she got for her sons not being called Clegg Gonzales was that they would have Spanish given names.

But unto the fact that Nick Clegg wants to have some family time, so too does the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband. All three have young families, as do the last two Prime Ministers. But this isn't necessarily a new thing, we are aware from watching the Kennedys that even then they struggled to balance family time with political leadership. The job of First Lady was tough of Jackie, just as the role of Miriam as a International renowned lawyer is, but then the last Prime Minister to have a child in office also had an internationally renowned lawyer as a wife one Cherie Booth Q.C. , AKA Mrs A.C.L. Blair.

Of course many mothers and fathers up and down the country balance two career these days. From the poorest to the richest families there are often two people of equal ability and earning potential in the same household.

Who should give up their job to look after the offspring?

Actually neither should need to give up what they are doing to be able to provide for their family. Indeed there is now moves afoot to improve paternity leave, something the Richard Letts no doubt didn't benefit from, as fathers then didn't even attend the birth, but paced the corridors outside. They didn't get time off work but turned up after they had left the office, or in his case school.

Things have moved on, if not in the case of equal pay, or equal numbers in the boardrooms. Therefore when there is a successful woman like Miriam, they are still sadly a rarity. Yet people like Letts still think they should give up their careers, lessen the world of their skills when their husbands become politically powerful and in key roles. Of course political careers at the highest level can be short lived, and for Lib Dems that may be very true at the moment. Whereas Samantha Cameron has put her career on partial hold as a part-time consultant, instead of the creative director for her old firm, Miriam was the head of her division, a five year suspension would put her behind her colleagues, some male and some female who probably also have working spouses, but not as high profile.

Personally I'm glad that we live in a 21st Century where women don't have to quit their jobs upon becoming pregnant, but are a part of the workforce, a part of the intelligentsia, a part of political leadership or civic leadership. Letts can just hop in his TARDIS and go back to Victorian times where his sexism and attitude to fatherhood would fit right in, it doesn't make them right however.

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