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I so agree with Andrew Gimson - Cameron's continued reference to his children is highly cynical.

well that's the way things go in politics. If you don't like it, don't be a politician.

Blair is not going to stop his family photos and neither should Cameron

Simple truth #1; No real family person would choose a career in politics while their children are still young as you deprive them of irreplaceable time with you.

Simple truth #2; kids are used for image enhancement by all sides so it's unfair to single out Cameron on this issue.

Nothing ch-ch-changes ;-)

It doesn't mix. David Cameron has put his ambition first. If he really put his family first, he wouldn't have chosen such a demanding job.

If his career goes well for the next ten to fifteen years he will be overwhelmed by public duties.

It really needs to be thought through. So many people have unhappy experiences of family, they can't share Dave's optimism. Stick to promoting family values subliminally through photoshoots like Tony Blair.

Frank Aylesford @ 9.08 why just single out David Cameron??? Our esteemed PM during his time in office has 'used' his children whenever he thought it would have a positive effect. And Mr. Brown does the same. At least David Cameron is drawing attention to his handicapped child (which I suppose you would say - cynically, is being done for the sympathy vote!!!!), which in an age when many people still prefer to ignore handicaps, can only have a positive effect!

As long as we don't end up with a "Gummer moment" and DC's family are happy with being involved it is a good thing if he can speak movingly and convincingly from his own experience. This will help to connect with the public and to show that the policies we put together (if and when...) are ones which have been thought through in terms of their practical impact on real people rather than in the abstract arena of political theory.

It is difficult to trust a party when it puts forward policies which they would not like to have applied to themselves (eg Michael Howard's immigration and asylum policies which would have led to his ancestors being more likely to have ended up in the gas chambers than Britain). We might think that it is nevertheless the right thing to do to show courageousness and how convinced we are of the rightness of the policy that we can put them forward so selflessly, but the man on the Clapham Omnibus would not agree.

If it is true that no-one who cares about their own families would become a politician then that is a terribly damning indictment of our whole political system.

"If it is true that no-one who cares about their own families would become a politician then that is a terribly damning indictment of our whole political system. "

It must be extremely difficult to combine the upbringing of children with a career at the top level of public life.

There was actually some merit in the way that in the Byzantine Empire, leading positions were given to eunuchs.

If Cameron was Blair, I'd agree about him using his kids for PR. But Cameron's his own man, independent minded and not prepared to be ordered around by anyone. Blair bends and twists to serve the best image he can achieve at any given time. Cameron is more of a Thatcher. He's the one to decide when things will happen, and how, and he works from principles as expressed in Built To Last. If he's not ready to express a view on an issue, he refuses to be drawn, while Blair would reach for the nearest soundbite and that would overnight become policy.

Cameron's presenting himself as a 'local'politician, a human being politician right from the beginning.

Blair would run for family exposure in times of trouble as a sticking plaster. Cameron's saying 'my children are part of my life. If you choose me, they're part of me.' He's holistic in the way he talks to us, and he wants us to be holistic in the way we respond. Taking responsibility, using the trust that he is preared to devolve as well as we can. In effect Cameron is saying 'we're human beings, not images. we're all on the same level.' We should be pleased he's not seeking to be a demi-God, to live in the media. He's prepared to be normal, to make litle mistakes that don't matter, to be seen on a bicycle. He's with us not above us.

Blair lived above us, and now does not know where to go next. Cameron will not have that problem when he eventully goes. He never left ordinariness in the first place.

I s this really a story? Politicians have used 'props' for as long as I remember.I can remember Jim Callaghan kissing every baby in sight (they usually cried)and Maggie liked to portray herself as some kind of suburban housewife who knew the price of everything in a supermarket.Big deal! Have Andrew Grimson (and this blog)really got nothing better to write about?

Last night Andrew Neil described it (re G Brown) as 'using your children as human shields'. Made me laugh, anyway.

Why not mention your kids? Personal choice, to do so or not. Restore the concept of politicians as 'the public in office', complete with baggage: the more like us they seem to be, including mentioning the kids, as one does, the better. It's those who never mention their private life that worry me.

I totally agree with Andrew Gimson's article in today's DT and Frank Aylsford's comments. I, too, hate the way DC eploits his handicapped child to in what I think is an appeal for the sympathy vote.Cameron is not the first parent of a handicapped child and sadly he won't be the last.

Just because the Organ grinder (Blair) has used HIS family when it suited him politically, it dosen't mean that the Monkey has to do the same.

oops it should of course be spelt


Right from the moment Cameron appeared, more or less for nowhere, this time last year, I was disgusted with his cynical use of his family - especially his disabled son -

The scenes of "Dave" publicly patting the somewhat unappealing belly of his then-pregnant wife were nauseating.

Well we know that a section of the public falls for this kind of stuff. The Diana cult showed just how pathetic and hysterical many of our fellow-citizens sadly are, as does the regular media coverage of the mistresses and offspring of the "international white trash" brigade

But as I've said; Cameron is a one-trick pony. Even the stupidest elector will by now be tiring of this gut-wrenching stunt.

Monday Clubber,

It must be lovely to be so much better than the rest of the citzenry.

In the early '90s I worked for an MP. One thing I remember very well was talking with his teenage son. The son told me that one of the best things which happened to him was when he became old enough not to have to appear in photos ... your kids are not props - remember Selwyn Gummer!

Yes, Gareth. It is rather.

To update Carlyle, "Sixty millions, mostly fools"

Gimson used to write of little else than the travails of finding a house for him and his family. Dull writer looking for something to say. Ignore/Delete. It may not even be his fault - the Telegraph's hysteria grows daily.

Monday Clubber appears to dislike many of his fellow citizens Gareth I really do think the party is much better off without people like that whatever his political views.
Hopefully the majority of people in politics from whatever political party are motivated by a desire to help their fellow man and not to hold them in contempt as Monday Clubber appears to do.

I remember recently when Blair did his Conference speech, the papers showed a before and after picture of the Blair family. I wouldnt want to be one of those children. The limelight would be hard to deal with. Lets not forget Euans escapades and how the press leapt on those stories. Its gotta be like living in a goldfish bowl...

But if he didnt tell us about his family he'd still have his critics, including Monday Clubber who just bashes the tories at any opportunity like some Prescott clone.

And so what? Isn't this what politicians do anyway? To be a leader of a nation, the public must know who you are and where your from.

It's a difficult call and an area where politicans are "damned if they do and damned if they don't"! David and Sam Cameron clearly love their children and their eldest with all his health problems must be especially precious. If they didn't mention their kids at all, people would be very surprised I think. I am also sure that many politicians are aware that their careers give them less time with their children than they would like and that can be quite a source of regret and even guilt for them. There are people in our own party who have had publicity resulting from problems with their children which perhaps could have been nipped in the bud had they been able to spend more time with them in their younger years. Mentioning no names but I can think of a particular case in a family I have known well for a number of years. Of course this problem is not confined to political families - it must be very similar in cases where Dad or Mum is a high-flying person in business.

On the general issue of using his kids, I think Blair has already set a tone for cynicism in that regard. But the whole point of things like, for example, the video podcasts on webcameron are to show a 'behind the scenes' glimpse and commentary (or to give the impression of it, at least). I don't think it really does any harm for someone contending to be one of the most important people in the world multitasks as he podcasts. Sure, I tend to be more comfortable with IDS's principles and greatly respect him for that. But I think Cameron's approach is quite reasonable, and a pragmatism that doesn't really surprise me from someone with a hint of the 'born in the purple' swagger about him. It's just the modern world.

But regarding Ivan... The fact is, having a disabled child completely changes your perspective on the world. You do spend more time seeing the underbelly of the health services, you do meet carers and volunteers and 'professionals' from the good to the downright appalling. This is much more than Davis's council house upbringing, or -- to use the appalling comparison Gimson makes -- having an English wife as opposed to a Scottish wife. Cameron will face -- in 'real time' as he continues in office -- the problems that carers are facing every single day up and down this country for the rest of either his or his son's life.

And he's not alone. There are many carers out their who don't have the resources of Cameron (or Gimson). Many would, and do, use a bit of publicity to kick things into action. I know my family has used the press (indeed, the Telegraph) to embarass idiotic tinpot Hitlers of various stripes into standing down on a couple of occasions. Even if Cameron wasn't a politician, this is his life now.

And if that makes the Andrew Gimsons of this world cry "why don't they just be themselves?" then I'm afraid it just reveals their ignorance for believing there's a distinction rather than any fault on the part of David Cameron.

About the "WebCameron," all it realy shows is that, like the majority of the population is that DC can have a conversation while doing more mundane tasks.

Personally I am delighted we have a Tory leader who has seen the murkier, gritty, unglamourise side of helathcare, this is particularly important as I am a support worker so I see the same side.

Real people talk a lot about their families. Politicians should be able to talk about them too - free from being accused of cynically using them for political advantage.

Politicians are moulded by their experiences - they should be able to express those experiences without being criticised by the press. Their families should also be entitled to some privacy. Just because a politician talks about his family does not make those family members fair game for journalists.

Malcolm - So you "really do think the party is much better off without people like that whatever his political views." There are around 5 million people who voted Tory in 1992 many it seems FOR THE LAST TIME. Some - like me - came back for Michael Howard because he was a realist and a CONSERVATIVE (remember them) They produced an English Tory majority. A large lump of the population ARE educationally sub-normal and who's fault is THAT? But it's no use denying it.

We've had enough of neo-Liberals fawning over a spin merchant who breaks his promises and SAYS he is a Liberal conservative. We will not vote for a Yellow NuLabour, a Blue NuLabour, nor a Red NuLabour. Without us Cameron has no hope of getting to No:10 and with luck the party will then come to its senses and get a Conservative leader rather than a bogus one elected on a promise which is immediately broken.

The public don't like politicians at all - but they detest those caught "spinning", patting their wives' tummies, doing the washing up (the C:s can afford an army of au-pairs and maids),putting a generator on the roof to boil an occasional kettle - eventually, staging bike-rides, husky hugs amd the rest.


'Monday Clubber' and Christina not only despise their fellow citizens, their real tragedy is that they despise the age in which they live.

I don't find Cameron's use of references to his own family to illustrate his commitment to certain causes off-putting.

However, when Gordon Brown chose the week he was being accused of being an emotional vacuum to decide to talk publicly about the death of his daughter for the first time, I nearly threw up. I can't imagine a more sickening and cynical piece of politics than that.

Mr and Mrs Brown have my utmost sympathy for the tragedy, but I can not believe that it was co-incedence that Brown chose the week the wheels started to come off his bandwagon to come out and talk about it.

I've worked with disabled people and I think that if I had a disabled child with cerebral palsy, I'd be glad that Cameron talks a bit about his son. I think it is mean-spirited to accuse him of exploitation.

I'm a UKIP member, not a Cameroon.

I agree with everything Andrew Gimson says on this matter. Cameron has gone too far too often using kids (especially Ivan) as props. We know all about Dave and family. Faintly nauseating and exploitave. Lets have some politics now. Get out a bit and mix with all elements of your Party.

What made the section of Cameron`s speech about the NHS powerful and convincing was because he mentioned his own experiances.
There is nothing wrong with politicians talking about there own families and experiances. It makes them more human and helps you understand better why they believe what they believe.

Gareth in his patronising way contributes - - - "'Monday Clubber' and Christina not only despise their fellow citizens, their real tragedy is that they despise the age in which they live."

I - can't speak for MCer- despise fawning Cameron sycophants who can't think but feel sorry - almost to the point of apologising - for those who have been betrayed by the ruin of our education system so that they cannot read or do "sums" properly. And Cameron won't give THEIR children a chance by restoring selection to schools (the shorthand phrase is "grammar schools")

Yes I know that the old think things were always better in the past but there are solid facts to back that up now - apart from education.

Debt for the young is now so enormous that it's crippling families - indeed it's stopping families being formed. Morals at every level (theft, falsehoods, violence etc) have gone into freefall. The Arts are struggling against a dumbed-down acceptance that the naked emperor HAS got some clothes on. When I got married we bought a house for 3 times our annual salary which (allowing for inflation ) was the equivalent today of £15k. Where can a couple get a first home for £45k today. Marriage was supported by the tax system. I now live on the proceeds of a lifetime's work prudently saved and 'realised' before Gordon Brown could nick it.

I feel compassion for the young today who have not only to cope with what is NOW but can only contemplate it getting worse right through to an impoverished old age. They also have to cope with those who rule us now - the "baby-boomer" generation who must be the most self-centred, narcissistic generation ever. I would not be young again for the Hope that led US on has been destroyed.

Mr Cameron is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.

As a father who has found parenting two healthy children difficult enough, I cannot begin to imagine what any loving parent of a severely disabled child must go through on a daily basis.

However rich they may be, I have a great deal of respect for the Camerons. Coming to terms with the fact that life is often unfair and even tragic, and working through the pain and anger without allowing oneself to give way to despair or bitterness is one of the most painful steps in growing up emotionally. Many 'adults', by contrast, never manage to get past the 'throwing their toys out of the pram' stage.

Having to deal with tragedy in my family's life has made me a little less judgmental of others, and a little more forgiving of others' weaknesses. I suspect the same to be true of Mr Cameron. Could this be why he is such an offence to the nostrils of the "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade?

Christina @ 15.08 is absolutely correct in saying:
"Debt for the young is now so enormous that it's crippling families - indeed it's stopping families being formed"
and also:
"When I got married we bought a house for 3 times our annual salary which (allowing for inflation ) was the equivalent today of £15k".
In 100 policies, I quoted John Cole (the former BBC Political Editor) who said:
"...politics is only important through the effect it has on the lives of ordinary people".
I will wait until this time next year in the hope that DC by then will come up with a policy that achieves John Cole's dictum in an attempt to solve the very real (and interlinked) social problems mentioned by Christina.

"'Monday Clubber' and Christina not only despise their fellow citizens, their real tragedy is that they despise the age in which they live."

While their consant negativity may be irritating I think Monday Clubber has a point regarding the reaction to the Diana tragedy. One got the impression that much of the mourning was either a) superficial (they felt good about displaying their sadness) or b)ridiculously OTT bearing in mind she'd never met any of these people. Frankly much of the behaviour at the funeral was undignified and not, I suspect, what most people would want at their own funeral. However, I don't think the majority of people in the country were that badly affected. All my friends in the younger generation, by no means Tories, were bemused by all the fuss.

"Could this be why he is such an offence to the nostrils of the "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade?"

I think you'll find the hang 'em and flog 'em brigade believe in punishing people for the deliberate infliction of harm on others, not because they made a mistake in a moment of weakness.

Who, please, are the "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade?". I don't know anybody who fits that description or is this a case of a Cameroon losing the aegument and descending into abuse.

Maybe all politicians should hire stunt children for their photo opportunities, or have their own children pose for photos which are turned into life-size cardboard cut-outs...

Has it ever occured to anyone that Cameron's kids might find it quite fun to be there when he films his "webcameron" stuff?

I agree with you Mark! They probably loved it! The sort of posing I do find somewhat cynical is the photocall that David Mellor arranged years ago, just after his affair had come out into the open, with wife and children posing by a five-bar gate all looking the picture of happiness!! Why did I dislike this so much? Answer: because it was a total lie and I detest hypocrisy.

"'Monday Clubber' and Christina not only despise their fellow citizens, their real tragedy is that they despise the age in which they live."

Indeed, Gareth; there's plenty to despise about it.

Soaring levels of crime and violence; drug use out of control; feral children; worldwide terror.

An increase in real (as opposed to toytown) bigotry worldwide accompanied by hideous atrocities and the use of torture.

Perhaps you read the recent account of French soldiers in Afghanistan being disembowelled alive by rebels? Far nicer to put that on one side and listen to Dave prancing around his pantomime stage trilling: “Hello flowers! Hello clouds! Hello trees!”

Schopenhauer delivered a very different verdict.

"I cannot here withhold the statement that optimism, where it is not merely the thoughtless talk of those who harbour nothing but words under their shallow foreheads, seems to me to be not merely an absurd, but also a really a wicked way of thinking, a bitter mockery of the unspeakable sufferings of mankind."

Mr Clubber:
And Schopenhauer was surely clinically depressed at the very least!

Sheepdip "And Schopenhauer was surely clinically depressed at the very least!"

Well you are no doubt well briefed on the subject, Sheepdip.

In his book "The Philosophy of Schopenhauer" Bryan Magee describes the philosopher as "a prodigious conversationalist - zestful, wide-ranging, well-informed and witty"

At nightly supper in the Englischer Hof in Frankfurt, "his obvious enjoyment of the food and wine...his stimulating talk nourished by a daily reading of the foreign press and nightly theatregoing...his self-confident biting wit." all impressed admirers, many of them English visitors, for S. deeply admired England and spoke our language almost like a native.

According to Magee the "gusto and verve" of S's philosophy "express and impart a joie de vivre which is almost gargantuan"

So, Sheepdip, perhaps you would like to produce evidence for your rather silly statement.

If you seek clinical depressives among thinkers I suggest you trawl among disappointed optimists.

Why not start with J-J Rousseau?

On the Oxford regional section of The Politics Show today (Sunday), David Cameron again mentioned his disabled child, so the debate above and the press rumblings are clearly having no affect.

christina speight | October 06, 2006 at 20:31

Who, please, are the "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade?". I don't know anybody who fits that description or is this a case of a Cameroon losing the aegument and descending into abuse.

Please forgive the hyperbole - I simply meant those who seem to find Mr Cameron unbearably 'wet', to use a certain past politician's favourite epithet for those somewhat to the left of herself.

I am also not a Cameroon - just another white English male heterosexual Christian believer who has had it up to here with being denied the right to express his identity, and who has to decide whether to put his cross in the box marked 'Conservative', 'UKIP', 'BNP' or 'None of the above'. The problem is that I have recently moved to a ward with a large Labour majority, so my vote is effectively wasted.

For those who consider me beyond the pale for even considering voting for the BNP, (i) both my late parents 'did their bit' in WWII against Hitler's lot, and (ii) I have no love for Facism. I just want my country back, thank you very much.

Horrified that A Gimson or DT proof reader cannot select the correct "too" but writes "two" in today's article "Give up your seat"! - no wonder spelling and/or grammar are becoming lost arts. 12.03.08

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