Will The Sun’s story about David Cameron leaving his daughter in a pub be politically damaging? Not in the least, I suspect. These stories only hurt if they seem to fit a trend of behaviour, or confirm what everyone suspects. But no one, even the prime minister’s harshest critic, could accuse him of neglecting his family or failing to prioritise his children. Those who have seen him around his kids usually come away feeling amazed, and envious, by the way he can just flick a switch, no matter how tough things are politically, and go into ‘family mode’: baking cakes, playing Star Wars games, being the model father. This is what’s meant by Cameron’s “chillaxing” — his striking ability to give his full attention to his family when anxious political types would be nervously checking their blackberries.
The idea of the PM taking his family out for a pub lunch is hardly politically damaging. The pub — The Plough at Cadsen — is just the place where you’d like to think that the PM goes on a Sunday afternoon. All this confirms the justified impression that Cameron’s closer to a normality than most people in politics. As for leaving his kid in the pub for 15 minutes, many parents, rather than being appalled, would think: ‘There but for the grace of God go I’. Indeed, the Today programme has just broadcast a bunch of listeners confessing to having left their kids in the post office, outside the shops and so on. Another listener joked that Cameron’s episode was typical of soft southerners: up north the kids aren’t taken into the pub, but are left in the car to get stuck into Coke and crisps.
The harshest comment came from someone who asked what hope is there for the UK economy if Cameron can’t count to three. But it wasn’t even as simple as that: the PM was being driven off in one car and his wife (with two kids) in another, each thinking the other had Nancy and realising very soon that they did not. It is an all-too-human foible, and one that’s far more likely to trigger sympathy than condemnation. It is a reminder of how — for better or worse — Cameron is an unusually ‘normal’ PM.Tags: David Cameron, Family