Saturday, January 09, 2010

Nick Clegg falls out with Gina Ford

Tomorrow's Sunday Times reports that Nick Clegg has fallen out with the child-rearing guru Gina Ford. The paper quotes the Lib Dem leader describing his and his wife's attempts to follow her suggested rules:
“It was like following a sort of Ikea assembly instruction manual. It made us feel strangely passive as parents.”
It goes on to quote him as saying:

“With our first one ... like all new parents, we religiously followed Gina Ford. Instructions like, stick him in a broom cupboard at 7.46am. At 7.48am, take him out, do not look at him ... Absolute nonsense.”

As an admirer of Frank Furedi's views on the tyranny of parenting experts I am pleased to see Nick making a public stand on the subject. (I did try to contact the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bonkers Home for Well-Behaved Orphans to elicit his views on the subject of sticking babies in broom cupboards, but I was told he was not available.)

Besides, the article does not suggest that Gina Ford is an immediately appealing character. It quotes her as saying:
“What is sad about this statement is that it comes from a supposedly intelligent man who would have us believe that he is capable of running Great Britain. Clegg may think his comments are funny — and indeed in one way they are, as he has just insulted the parenting choice of more than 2m British voters.”
To which one can only reply: Calm down, dear, it's only a light-hearted newspaper article.

But then it seems Miss Ford has a thin skin when it comes to criticism. In 2006 the Mumsnet website, which has recently come to prominence through interviewing the three main party leaders, was faced with the prospect of having to close when she threatened it with legal action over postings made on its message boards.

One of those the postings, it seems, suggested that she "straps babies to rockets and fires them into south Lebanon".

Somehow I doubt this was meant seriously and Wikipedia says the dispute was resolved with Mumsnet paying some of Ford's legal costs but remaining open.

Still, I did again try to contact the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bonkers Home for Well-Behaved Orphans for an opinion on this latter idea.

This time I was given a written statement:
These allegations against us were looked into at the time and found to be a gross exaggeration. I don't know why you are dredging them up now.


Anonymous said...

Good old Clegg. Gina Ford is an idiot. Some babies sleep well, some don't. The book you buy makes little difference except that it can make an idiot into a rich idiot.

Onlinefocus Team said...

Judging by the comments of the Times readers, Nick is on to a winner here!