Family Friendly But Not For All

09/07/2008

Helen Clark had only just scraped the egg off her face for getting her facts wrong in last week’s attack on John Key, when she put her head back in the hen’s nest by criticising him and Bill English for taking a few days off with their families.

Colin Espiner blogs:

“They do tend to work pretty short weeks,” Clark said of the National leadership yesterday. I thought this was pretty unfair. Both have school-age children. It’s the school holidays and recess at Parliament. The election is at least four months away. Why shouldn’t they have a few days off?

There is every reason why they should have a few days off. It would be difficult to find a less family-friendly job than that of an MP. The hours, the travel, the lack of privacy…  It’s a dog’s life which puts immeasurable strain on MPs and their families so snatching a few precious days of family time is both sensible and healthy.

I accept there are MPs – on both sides of the political divide – whose work rate wouldn’t match the prime minister’s, but even the busiest of people need time off. I’ve said before that I simply don’t know how the PM manages to work as hard as she does and I very much doubt we will see a harder worker than her at Premier House for many a year.

Whether that’s a good thing is a moot point. Should political life be “all consuming” as Clark said yesterday? Or should Key and English be allowed a couple of days off with their families to recharge the batteries and see their kids?

How very sad that Clark has allowed political life to be “all consuming”, for her and for us. Having a life in the real world outside politics might enable her to clear the bile from her brain and have a more varied diet than the lemons she appears to be permanently sucking. In so doing she’d become a better person and we’d get a better Prime Minister.

It might also enable her to see the irony in leading the party which continually reminds us about Welfare Working for Families and has only just passed legislation creating family-friendly work places; then attacking two husbands and fathers who very sensibly take one of the few opportunities their demanding jobs afford them to spend some time with their wives and children.

It makes a farce of any claims she might make that she or her party are family friendly. Her words show that family friendly is only vote-catching rhetoric, not a conviction based on a belief in the philosophy which ought to under lie it.

Clark expects others to respect her choice to not have children but her attack on Key and English is devoid of any respect for them, their families and their choices.


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