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Laura Perrins: Meet feminist supermum Vicky Pryce. So ‘independent’ she cited marital coercion in her defence


Vicky Pryce, the ex wife of convicted criminal and former Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, is not big on self-reflection. I imagine her idea of a retreat and self-examination is akin to hell on earth.

In this interview, which really is beyond parody in the supermum/working mother genre, the economist Ms Pryce ticks all the feminist boxes. She is the fantasy feminist made flesh.

We are told: “Does she have any regrets? About perverting the course of justice, say? Or prison? Or letting slip to a journalist that she’d taken her MP husband’s speeding points (marital coercion, she argued)? “The other way to survive,” she says, “is never think back. At all. It’s the only way. I always look forward and I think that’s the reason I survived the whole thing reasonably well.”

Right then.

Her advice to women is – “be as independent as you can, because you just never know.” (My advice to women – don’t marry someone like Chris Huhne).

She also tells us – “My plan was that I was never going to get married and never have any kids. Because I wanted to be independent.” What happened? “And then I did, but I remained independent.”

Note that for later, dear reader. It’s important.

Ms Pryce is a feminist hero for the following reasons:

  • She went back to work three days after giving birth to her fifth child. (Tick, quick return to work box).
  • She left the babies aged five weeks to cry it out in another room to train them to sleep through the night as she had to get back to work asap. The infants did cry, two hours was the record for one, but she did not find this difficult. “The trick is not to be tempted to go and pick it up.” Something tells me Vicky was never even in the least bit tempted to go in and offer some comfort to ‘it’. Ever.
  • We need more quotas for women in work. Tick.
  • We need universal childcare – as you would get it back in tax receipts (tick, tick, tick).

“The cost benefit of having more women in work is not done properly. Childcare should be free. Government should fund it. It would cost a few billion but you would get it back in taxes in no time at all.”

It occurs to me, that this cost benefit analysis does not include the needs of babies, and toddlers and young children. This does not surprise me, as I would not expect an economist who lets her newborn cry it out for two hours at night to think ‘needs of children’ should be included in the analysis.

  • “Work is a brilliant cure for postnatal depression.” Tick
  • Don’t bake cakes for your kids and don’t make costumes for the kids. Now and again she forgot the children’s birthdays.
  • Having a husband does not make the children/career thing easier: “Not at all. I think everything I’ve done is because of me, not because of anyone I was married to.”

Instead, Ms Pryce had au pairs who were responsible, apart from the one who disappeared (we are not told if she has since been found) and the one who was a call girl.

So what does it matter? Why do I care how this mother does her mothering? Well normally I wouldn’t, but it occurred to me that this woman is a woman who shapes policy. She is the one that gets to shout down the rest of the mums who do go to their crying baby and don’t think it right to hire au pairs who moonlight as call girls. This matters.

People like Ms Pryce shape policy. Policy such as the Lib Dem policy, who in their manifesto by some amazing coincidence propose to fund childcare for babies from nine months old. It is not stated if this will include leaving the babies to cry it out in the ‘baby room’ for two hours. That will cost extra.

This played out on the ridiculously one-sided debate on the Today programme on Tuesday. In sum – we need more childcare now for babies who have not even had the privilege of reaching their first birthday (sometimes forgotten by their super Mums.) There was absolutely no discussion as to where the needs of the children come in. But then there never is.

There is no evidence that all this childcare from such an early age is good for children – but there is plenty of evidence that it is not good for them. Yet the Government ploughs on. We now all must hand over our wages to bureaucrats so they can decide what our kids really need.

But let us end on feminist extraordinaire Vicky Pryce. We know she is not big on ‘thinking time.’ We know she is not big in the needs of infants and children, even her own. We know she is not big on obeying the law.

In this call to arms, she waxes on about how independent she is and has always been, even when married. This from the same woman who ran the defence of marital coercion at her trial. A defence you might see used by some woman from the Pakistani village that was forced to marry her cousin, brought to England and couldn’t speak English. Yet, Ms Vicky Pryce a once partner at KPMG, had no difficulties claiming this most improbable of defences. Some may call this ironic. Others would call it perjury.

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