Jeremy Hunt may have lost out to Boris Johnson in the race to be PM but his new role may be more important
This isn’t a party political blog. It’s for readers to choose whether they think the nation is now led by a merry band or a bunch of maniacs.
But from a working dads point of view we have to keep across political developments and how they might impact equal parenting.
So there was a few things worth mentioning in among the fast moving events of the past week.
Firstly Theresa May left office without saying anything about her plans for more paternity leave. Last Friday the government launched a consultation on the idea, she was believed to be keen on a leap from two to 12 weeks of leave. This Friday the two women who put their name to that launch – May and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt – are no longer in government.
Talk about getting your hopes up.
Of course they may have gone, workingdads.co.uk is still here. And we’ll be keeping a close eye on that consultation and pushing for action to result.
The people in charge of the sort of stuff that would help working dads offer hope. The new equalities minister is the old equalities minister Amber Rudd. While the business secretary is Andrea Leadsom. They have both demonstrated a willingness to adopt ideas aimed at equality in the past – Leadsom driving through proxy voting for new mums, and crucially also, new dads in the House of Commons and Rudd generally felt to be a decent minister last time she held the equalities brief.
And there was another interesting development among the reshuffle.
Jeremy Hunt got the boot after losing the Tory leadership contest. But he turned it into a positive.
He tweeted to say that he’d been a cabinet minister for every minute of his kids’ lives (does that count as a #humblebrag?). But now he was going to focus on “the biggest challenge of all – to be a good dad!”
2/4 I've been a cabinet minister for every hour my 3 gorgeous children have been alive. So whilst it may seem strange for someone who just tried to become PM (& is a terrible cliche) I have decided now is the time for the biggest challenge of all – to be a GOOD DAD!
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) July 24, 2019
A senior politician making explicit that being a dad is an important and worthwhile role. Now, it’d have been nice if he’d done that while in office, it would have carried more weight. But he remains a big beast and it is good to see him talking up his role in family life. To be fair to him, I saw him once at an event in Whitehall with his kids and he did appear to be doing a pretty good job of fatherhood – throwing his children about and making them laugh in the stuffy surroundings of a historic government building. (At the time one of the nation’s most senior civil servants was teaching my daughter origami. Bureaucrats and politicians are human.)
He joins other Conservative men talking up the role of dads as more than just breadwinners. Repeatedly it is the Tories who seem to be thinking about these sorts of subjects. Though with Jo Swinson, the architect of Shared Parental Leave, now leading the Lib Dems there’s got to be hope that parents needs, and those of dads in particular, will get more of an airing.
How the changes in Westminster this week shake down remains to be seen. But among the rubble of the last administration and the blueprints for the new one there is cause for some hope. Just as long as dads continue to demand better and hold our politicians to account.