Saturday 21 January 2017

Mary Kenny: Don't fall into the parent trap

The Andrea Leadsom case shows the dangers of playing the motherhood card

Published 24/07/2016 | 02:30

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

The best-known quotation from the economist John Maynard Keynes was: "In the long run, we are all dead." Critics of Keynes's more left-wing approach to capitalism have claimed that he said this because he was childless. A man with children and grandchildren would not have dismissed the long perspective so easily: he'd have been thinking of his descendants.

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Keynes was indeed childless, although he and his wife, the ballerina Lydia Lopokova - whom he had married, happily, after a promiscuously homosexual youth - had had a stillborn baby. But it's a little unkind to suggest that his childlessness accounted for his theory of "the long view" in economics. Many a childless person has had a careful sense of leaving a prudent legacy for the future. Some of our richest cultural legacies come from communities of monks, anxious to preserve for the future that which they have drawn from the past.

And when the British Conservative leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom claimed recently that she had a greater stake in the future than the childless Theresa May, it proved her undoing. Her insensitive remark went viral, and she attracted such a global degree of odium that she felt she had to step down from her candidature.

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