Britain's Conservative leadership election turning into culture war over motherhood


A real-life version of the culture wars that play out in the Facebook feed of all women over 30 is happening in the leadership battle for Prime Minister in Britain.

Yes, just like that Facebook friend from high school who posts long essays about how her children have changed her life for the better, Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom said to the Times about how she is better suited to be Prime Minister because she is a mother. Her opponent, Theresa May, does not have children.

Leadsom said that while May has “possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people,” having children meant that Leadsom “a very real stake” in Britain’s future. Also, Leadsom said May must be “very sad” not to have children.

And just like those Facebook statuses, this is not going over well.

May didn’t respond on Saturday, but instead repeated her call for Leadsom to join in May’s clean campaign pledge.

According to the Times, at least 20 Conservative MPs said they will leave the party if Leadsom is elected leader.

Leadsom said on Saturday that she was “disgusted” about the way her comments were presented and she insisted that she did not want her children to be at the center of her leadership campaign.

To make matters even more confusing for women trying to decide which side to be on, a lot of men are commenting on what Leadsom meant and whether she is qualified to be Prime Minister. Because if there’s one thing women love more than when women talk about whether having children make them qualified for a job, it’s when men do it!

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in Warsaw that someone’s qualifications to be Prime Minister had nothing to do with whether she was a mother.

“I think what makes you qualified to be prime minister is having long experience, a clear understanding of the big issues facing this country, and a proven track record of being robust in the face of the many pressures that people at the front line of politics face all the time. That’s why I’m backing Theresa May,” Hammond said.

Conservative backbencher David Davis told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr show that Leadsom is not ready to be Prime Minister.

Leadsom “is intelligent and charming and so on, but what the events of the last week have demonstrated is that she has come under a bit of pressure – because leadership contests, as I know to my cost, are somewhat pressurized,” Davis said.

Leadsom’s campaign manager, Tim Loughton, told the BBC that the backlash over her comments are part of “the establishment trying to get Andrea.”

“That’s what fires her up,” he said on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. “People are fired up and inspired by different things. I’m godfather to Andrea’s eldest son, her children are the things that fire her up. What she is saying she is passionate about her kids. Since when has it been a crime to be proud about your children?”

If you close your eyes, you can see that written on a Facebook status. Is it comforting or not to know that no one can escape today’s culture wars?

Anyway, the Conservative Party has historically supported so-called traditional families, but Loughton has denied that Leadsom is being backed by party members who want to reign in the socially liberal members of the party.

Remember when Brexit was tearing the Conservative Party apart?

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