If you ever get drunk with my mother – and you should feel free to do so – then the conversation will drift to politics and her two core views will be espoused.
The first is that grammar school were good for social mobility. Both her and my father were from working class families – her parents were a bus driver and a waitress – and became solidly middle-class because they were accepted into local grammar schools.
The second, more relevant here, is that feminism has been bad for women. Her assertion is that before feminism the expectation of women is that they would become wives and mothers and that feminism added the additional duties of having a career. When I was born, in far away 1971, she gave up her job (despite being better paid than my dad at the time) to become a full-time mother.
Her mother, the waitress, was a Labour supporter all of her life. She remembered the austerity of the depression era, particularly her family being forced to sell their beloved piano before they were allowed to claim any public assistance. My mum, by contrast, is a life-long Conservative. Her piano-moment is the union domination and control of Labour in the 60s and 70s. The utter capitulation of our national government to the smirking shop-stewards who both exploited and represented the class she had come from.
If you cut her in half she’d say ‘Tory’ all the way through and, importantly, for her there’ll be no disconnect between Andrea Leadsom’s pride in being a mother and her talk of cutting maternity pay. That, in her eyes, could be a positive step towards re-establishing the natural order of things, where Daddy goes out and works and Mummy stays home with the children. Feminism, she’d assert, has delivered the opportunity for every woman to chose a career instead of having children; if it insists on them doing both then that is damaging.
She will also not recoil in the slightest from Leadsom’s assertion that being a mother will make her a better leader. She’ll probably even be surprised that Leadsom would disown them.
There are holes in her philosophy, to be sure, but she’ll stand by it as long as the Sauvignon Blanc is flowing. You won’t see her on Twitter, or creating memes on Facebook, she’ll never be in the audience on Question Time or ever do anything more political than reading The Telegraph, but how many more like her must there be out there, in the ranks of the Conservative party, looking at Andrea Leadsom and thinking, “I can relate to her”?
Anyway, I have to go and have my usual Saturday morning coffee with her. I’ll let you know what she thinks.