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Spare a thought for Stella Creasy this Christmas

The Labour MP has suddenly discovered that having kids tends to dent your social life.

Ella Whelan

Ella Whelan
Columnist

Topics Politics UK

Christmas is a time to consider those less fortunate than you. So spare a thought for Labour MP Stella Creasy.

Last week, Creasy took to X to complain about having to pick up her kids from nursery while passing everyone else ‘going to Christmas parties and drinks’. The sight of others doing something she wasn’t able to at that precise moment clearly stung her. ‘Yet again acutely aware the motherhood penalty is just a gift that keeps giving’, she tweeted.

It seems poor Cinder-Stella was upset that she didn’t get to go to the ball, or even an after-work Xmas booze-up. It does make you wonder why not, though. After all, as an MP, Creasy earns more than double the annual average income – are babysitters really that expensive in her Walthamstow constituency? Or is her partner just a bit of a Scrooge with the childcare duties?

Sympathy has been in short supply for Creasy. This is mainly because she has form here, ceaselessly milking every opportunity to pose as a poor, put-upon working mum. In 2021, she was even told by parliamentary authorities to stop taking her baby into the debating chamber with her instead of making use of parliament’s heavily subsidised nursery.

In her latest outburst, Creasy is acting as if she’s exposing some great wrong – namely, the so-called motherhood penalty. Yet not being able to go to the pub or a party as and when you please is hardly a massive injustice. It’s simply a fact of life that caring for your children takes up time – especially at Christmas, when you’re juggling parties, the school nativity and rearranging the elf on the shelf. Every parent already knows that children don’t respect adults’ social calendars. Yet, unlike Creasy, we don’t all moan about it on social media.

Creasy claims she was trying to make a point about childcare – that flexible working for mothers should include ‘flexible networking’, too. What ‘flexible networking’ means is anyone’s guess. Perhaps she wants a Labour government to legislate for work Christmas parties to be held during nursery hours.

Of course, despite significant advances in recent years, parenting remains an unequal task. Mums still remain the chief child-rearers. This means that they, rather than dads, are expected to miss work, pick up the baby when things go wrong and skip social events.

But instead of trying to score points on social media, or pretending that they are the worst affected by all this, MPs like Creasy should be trying to make an actual difference. Childcare costs are eye-watering and nursery places few and far between. Never mind flexible networking, or a few more funded hours of childcare here and there. What mums need is an overhaul of the entire childcare system. We need state-provided, good-quality childcare. This would revolutionise family life and, most important of all, provide more choice and freedom for women. Sadly, arguing for this kind of radical change isn’t high up on the priority list for professional feminists. Most can already afford nannies and au pairs.

If Creasy and her ilk want to be taken more seriously, they need to stop the woe-is-motherhood posturing and focus instead on improving childcare provision. It may not win as many likes on X. But it will make an actual difference to parents’ lives.

Ella Whelan is the author of The Case For Women’s Freedom, the latest in the Academy of Ideas’ radical pamphleteering series, Letters on Liberty.

Picture by: UK Parliament.

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Topics Politics UK

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