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Why are so many of our political leaders childless?


In the last hundred years Mrs May is only the second Prime Minister of Britain after Mr Heath to be childless. For the main part, large not small families have been the Prime Ministerial norm – from David Lloyd George, who had at least five, through to David Cameron, who had four (though tragically losing one, Ivan, at the age of six).

Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin and Ramsay MacDonald had six apiece, Churchill five, Clement Attlee and Harold Macmillan and Tony Blair four. The modern (two plus two) nuclear family arrived with Harold Wilson, a trend that Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Gordon Brown continued. They all had a personal investment in the future.

But if Mrs May is out of step with her predecessors then she is totally in sync with her European Union counterparts. Eclipsed by gender parity obsession, this is the real inequality today – people with children and children themselves are no longer represented by the politicians at the upper echelons of power.

To spell it out, the EU is run and controlled by political leaders of whom the majority have no children. This is not a gender issue. Neither Theresa May nor Chancellor Angela Merkel has children but then neither do President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria or Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg.

It is ironic, though perhaps not surprising, that the unexpected consequence of today’s feminised society is that it has advantaged childless men over women, and rewards lack of family responsibility and parental experience rather than the reverse.

OK, I hear you say, there are still many EU countries where this is not the case – Poland, Hungary, Portugal and Spain to name but some. But add in Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, neither of whom have children either, and you arrive at a startling finding.

It is this: of a total EU population of 510million, 310million are living in countries that have leaders who are childless.

Don’t worry! I am not, of course, advocating a new ‘Children’s List’ for the political parties to measure their candidates against. That is no more justified than the current demand for a 50 per cent female quota of MPs on the basis that 50 per of the population are women.

Rather, I am making an observation that does not yet seem to have been picked up on. I am making a point about what looks to be a quite sudden political and social change – that modern culture is advantaging childlessness in politics and disadvantaging those with the responsibility of families.

This is not restricted to the apex of the political pinnacle. I was recently reminded that for a while at the Department for Education under Justine Greening, there was no minister who had children.

Not that having family figures at the helm – whether of the EU or of Department for Education – in itself ensures that the concerns and interests of mainstream families and their children will be represented (any more than female MPs necessarily represent the mainstream female constituency – as feminists they mainly don’t).

But there is something disturbing about a political class that looks increasingly detached both from the experience of parenthood and the responsibilities of family life; one that has no personal emotional tie to the next generation. It is also disconcerting to find that as we fail to reproduce ourselves, as Western demographics show is the case, we have chosen leaders who represent this trend; leaders who for perhaps quite personal reasons refuse to see it as a problem and certainly do not ask why people like them are not having children, let alone suggesting how this can be reversed.

Yet it is this cadre of increasingly technocratic and feminised politicians who are are deciding the next generation’s future, my children’s future and my grandchildren’s if I am lucky enough to have them. They are not responsible for any of the children who will experience the consequences of their decisions. They have only indirect emotional ties to the future, or none at all.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that rather than address population decline through family and child policy reforms, this group of politicians is tolerating, if not promoting, a population replacement policy through migration. It prompts the question of whether we can ever expect to see policies to encourage the next generation to marry and have families – yes, to reproduce themselves and a bit more.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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