THERE’S been much speculation in the press over Ruth Davidson’s decision to resign as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. It is a sign of the times that no one seems to believe her when she says that she dreads the prospect of fighting an election now she has a baby; and has found pressures of balancing motherhood with work too hard. No, it is really a political decision – all about about Boris and Brexit – they say, not about the baby.
What a commentary on contemporary dismissive attitudes to maternity, motherhood and the needs of infants. That having a young baby is not sufficient reason for a mother to want to give up work, whether her job is high-profile or not. Only lack of childcare or paternity leave is.
How unsympathetic as a society we have become. That the child’s prior need is for its mother and that mothers suffer anguish and conflict at being separated from their babies and infants on return to work is no longer sympathised with or recognised.
How totally heartless, unimaginative and Victorian, too, that the pleasures and rewards of early motherhood – a time that passes so quickly, never to be retrieved – are no longer understood or empathised with.
So how thrilling it is that Ms Davidson is not choosing to engage in ‘diaper diplomacy’ or to use her little boy as a weapon in the gender wars. One ‘woke’ politician, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the unimpressive Jacinda Ardern, making political capital out of her baby is quite enough.
Neither Holyrood nor the House of Commons are places for babies and breastfeeding mums – least of all to make distracting political statements. There’s a time and a place for most things and those aren’t it.
Ruth Davidson has delivered an ‘emperor has no clothes’ moment. She has admitted what today’s mothers are not allowed to admit whatever their job: that whatever childcare facilities are in place, most find it hard to combine the two roles. She has acknowledged feelings that today’s mothers are not meant to have, let alone give into.
Ms Davidson has turned that on its head. Whatever you think of her politics, her decision comes as a welcome breath of fresh air in the non-stop war on motherhood and maternity. We wish her great happiness.