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« Q12: Leadership Election Process | Main | Elsewhere on »


Barbara Villiers

Comrade Fulford,

So changing a nappy (or not) qualifies him as credible father, leader, Prime Minister?

I don't care how much you are in touch with your feminine side you will NEVER know or feel what is in a woman's heart towards her children and scratch the surface of every mother you will find two things - one, she would prefer to have spent at least the first couple of years at home and two, the absolute utter exhaustion of the first year, trying to work and juggle childcare, how your heart tears out when you have to leave for work AND the fact is that for the first year your hormones are working so that you want to nurture and I have to admit my brains were mush the first year. My body wanted me to nurture but I had to earn a crust - not for 'extras' but to help pay the mortgage.

Barbara Villiers


Except for John Major - I don't know who you mean. Either barristers or public school boys and believe me barristers are notoriously condescending, especially if they come from humble beginnings.

As I have said in previous posts, MPs will back whatever horse they think is winning so I wouldn't worry about Party unity.


Mark, you respond to my question with another question. How about answering directly?

Your question to me has nothing at all to do with the issue. It's a separate - and very important - issue. Paxman himself was being sexist by saying 'mums' not parents!

My answer to your question: yes and no. I did with the first, but not with the subsequent ones.


Barbara that's my worry - because Davis isn't a winner, MPs will quickly turn on him when the core vote strategy fails to budge our 33%-35% support. This is what happened with IDS. It's not right, but it needs to be considered by those wavering between Cameron and Davis. Obviously activists committed to Davis aren't going to switch on that basis alone.

On the PMs who weren't part of the old boys network - Thatcher was a woman, Heath was the first grammar school boy, Hague went to a Comprehensive - so to differing degrees, theve all overcome the old boys network - but I'm disputing your point, the Tory Party has always been full of snobbery - John Major hated it.

Sorry - meant to say, I'm NOT disputing your point.


Though I do disput the idea that Davis is described as divisive and disloyal because he isn't part of an old boys network.

I think from the evidence I've seen, its actually because of the way he behaves.


I didn't say the 1951 convention was good its just that to withdraw from it would send the wrong message and would be political suicide.

Barbara Villiers


I am afraid you never overcome the old boys'network - Lady T is a case in point - they couldn't wait to get their own back.

I take your point on IDS but the truth is this, this time they are clever enough to know it's do or die and they will fall in quick enough with whoever is there. Take it from an old hand!

Mark Fulford

Sorry Buxtehude, I didn't mean to dodge your question. The state should support freedom of choice by removing obstacles that prevent return-to-work.

Davis has repeatedly revealed his old-fashioned view of women. In my view, this latest insight is unambiguous. If Davis is at the top, we will be seen as a party that hasn’t taken a single progressive step.

And Barbara – I’ve got a very good sense of humour, but it starts to fail when people suggest that I, and men in general, don’t love their children as much as women do. You have no idea what goes on in my heart.


Barbara, I don't think we are disagreeing about the old boys network. Its there, it's a problem and possibly another reason why Davis would lead a divided Party as an isolated leader.

I think you're right - MPs might very well think it's do or die and give a pretence of loyalty.

But there's a world of difference between a Party hungry for power, turning it united and co-ordinated fire power on Labour, and one which half heartedly gives loyalty to a leader they didn't want in the first place and dont believe will get them into Government.

Barbara Villiers


I would never, ever presume to question a father's love for his children and I am sure you love your children deeply. However, it is also a hormonal thing and no matter how much you are in touch with your feminine side, you will not have the hormonal changes that new mothers have. It's not better, just different. But, different enough so that your body suffers from the separation. that is all I am trying to convey.

Mark Fulford

Barbara, thanks for clarifying...


"because Davis isn't a winner, MPs will quickly turn on him when the core vote strategy fails to budge our 33%-35% support" MPs turing on the leader if they are not successful at the polls is a fate that could be experienced by either candidate if they lose in 2009/10.


The issue of working mother and stay at home mothers is very interesting to me. In the group of friends our family has we are the only family that has not had a divorse. We are also the only family where our mother has stayed at home to look after the children. There was aparently a huge amount of pressure on my Mum to go back to work after I was born by the Feminists who believed that women should be working to take over the world. Obviously no-one had told them that one of the most important and powerful people in the world and sitting in No.10 at that time was a woman. My mother resisted all pressure to go back to work in favour of raising her children - three boys.
It is also quite evident that we are the most stable family in our neighbourhood.

It seems to me that the Davis quote has as usual been taken completely out of context by the extremists in our society attacking anything that they can get their grubby hands on. It was like the comment Davis made that he prefered Blondes to brunettes on Womans hour the other day. So what!?!? I prefer Red heads and Brunettes, am I now going to be publicly flogged for stating a preference. The situation with the media and political correctness is ludicrous, MPs are in turn having to censor themselves more and more which escalates the problem. Get a bloody grip.

Mark Fulford

Zoso, it is a matter of personal choice. Feminists should not have been pressurising your mother to go back to work, but nor should the government indicate that she should stay at home.

I believe that David Davis's comment last night would have alienated most working mothers that heard it. A political party can not afford to alienate its constituency in that way and it is sensible, not extremist, to recognize that.


"MPs turing on the leader if they are not successful at the polls is a fate that could be experienced by either candidate if they lose in 2009/10."

Yer sure I agree with that - but my point is that having received the votes of a minority - a big minority - of MPs, those Mps will feel less loyalty to Davis when things go pear-shaped. I'm more concerned about this during this parliament rather than post 2009.

Also - Davis would probably step down having lost in 2009 as he would be too old in 2013/14 - so we'd have to go through all this again.

Cameron could have a second attempt in 2013/14.


Thanks Mark - but in fact you didn't answer my actual question (I think an oversight not a dodge), which was not about the role of the state in removing obstacles (I've no problem with that, although I think they virtually encourage it sometimes, which I do think is wrong). The question was:

"It's not a matter of blame... But little children are not better off in a nursery, are they? I mean, honestly?"

In other words, of course we must accept that people need to be able to have children and work, but we're not saying that in general, it's not better for the children if one of the parents is at home for them, at least in the earliest years, are we? There's nothing reactionary in accepting that small children do better with their mother or father at home than being dropped off in toddler nurseries, surely?

Wat Tyler

Michael- you really think DC would get a second shot at it? After 4 years in charge, he'd be bruised, beaten, and busted. Yes, Labour kept Kinnock...but that's not exactly a great precedent.

No, he'd be yesterday's story and the axes would be out.

Which of course is exactly why it would be better for him and the party if he loses. He will have some time to mature and be all the stronger as a future leader.


Wat - it depends how close he gets to the prize.

If he's within a handful of seats - yer sure he would get another shot.

Also, the Party really doesn't want another leadership election for a while - if we change leaders again in 4 years time, our credibility will be zero.


I think DD was the victim in this instance of Paxman's stupid one word answer session - I hope DC has taken note of and prepared for this.
He would probably have gone on to qualify and expand on his answer e.g. that more should be done to allow women to have a career break to have children without losing employment benefits and job seniority, and that there should be incentives for providing job opportunities for mothers of young children in part time jobs which fit in with school hours, jobsharing arrangements etc etc. so that women do not have to choose between all or nothing - children or job. There is still a lot more which could be done in this area.


Wat - you seem to be suggesting Davis would be a caretaker leader.

After Hague, IDS and Howard, should we really go for a caretaker? Or a longer term leader?


The reason John Major, William Hague and Michael Howard announced their departures the day after the election was becuase they were acutely aware that they would have been challenged for the leadership had they not done so. Of course, IDS didn't even make it that far but that had more to do with losing the confidence of MPs after a period of his leadership rather than the fact that a few more MPs voted for Clarke in the final round rather than for him (most people believe those extra few parliamentary votes were actually IDS supporters voting for Clarke to keep Portillo off the ballot anyway).

It's got nothing to do with age. If Davis came within striking distance of winning the next election, he would have a chance of staying on until the next election. The same is true of Cameron. But a defeat short a huge advance will inevitably encourage a leader's rivals.

Built into some people's remarks is the implicit assumption that Cameron would be likely to be more successful than Davis. But what little we have to go on--the polls we have in advance of either of them being leader--suggests this is not the case and that Tory support immediately after Cameron's election would be 34% compared to 33% for Davis--and this on the back of hugely favourable media coverage for Cameron.


Loyal - Major, Hague and Howard lost big, they had little option but to go.

How old would Davis be if he became prime minister in 2015? 68?

Is that too old? I don't necessarily think so. But many in the Party do. Indeed, I think Davis himself said that at 57 this would probably be his last leadership bid.

Yer...we're better off with Cameron. I've convinced meself.

Mark Fulford

Buxtehude, I find it hard to resist answering questions, but the right or wrong of different styles of childcare is not the trust of my argument. Can you accept ‘not better, not worse’?

My point is that Davis’s comment was a foolish faux-pas that will have offended working-mums. Whatever his private thoughts, Davis should have had the sense to sit on his hands. I think mistakes like this cost more votes than the party realizes.

If I were in the chair, it would be the religious question that would require a bit of hand-sitting. Do you believe in God? Regardless of the indubitable quality of my policies, ‘No’ would be a vote-losing answer, so I’d have to fudge the answer a bit – and that’s the game of politics.


Both candidates have yet to master the media properly.

DC was daft to mention Christian Aid in an otherwise thoughtful document and DD should have ducked the blondes question as his enemies will use it against him.

It is worrying that both candidates have been so niave.

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