Anabel Costa-Fereira argues for a change in policy following Stella Creasy being criticised for bringing her baby into Parliament.
After MP Stella Creasy was criticised for bringing her baby into Parliament, the debate surrounding rules of allowing children into parliament was reignited. A matter questioning the extent to which we must force politicians to distinguish and divide their private and public life. However, with these recent happenings many are aptly calling into question the outdated nature of the rule.
On Tuesday the 23rd of November, Stella Creasy was sent an email informing her that bringing her 13-week-old son to Westminster Hall is not in accordance with parliamentary rules. It is stated that in the ‘Rules of Behaviour and Courtesies in the House of Commons’ that “you should not take your seat in the chamber when accompanied by a child.” Like many other political matters, Twitter had much to say on the matter, with MPs such as Caroline Lucas and Alex Davies-Jones rushing with support for Creasy. We must remember that having a personal life beyond work is the case for everyone; MPs are not the exception. In fact, Creasy reminds us that maternity cover is not always covered, and she would not want to ‘risk constituents going six months without representation.’
Being a working mother is something we should seek to empower rather than critique.
If parliamentary members are supposed to represent the constituency they are from, then if anything being put in a position where they are forced to bring their child to work shows they are like any other member of their area. If Creasy or any other parliamentary member with a young child were to take maternity leave, their area may not be as well represented, which is why they should be given the option to bring their child to work if needed. Now, this is not to say parliament should be the new nursery, but it is not for the public to criticise an infrequent event that could happen to anyone. Especially in times of Covid, childcare issues are unavoidable for many families and therefore should be treated with respect.
Being a working mother is something we should seek to empower rather than critique. If politicians around the globe can do the same without issue, why should we suggest otherwise. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden was seen to take her baby to the UN General Assembly. This moment back in 2018 made history and rightly demonstrated a woman’s ability to be able to balance motherhood and a strong career. The media were drawn to criticise this issue, but I believe we should seek to applaud it. The same way laws were rewritten to allow a woman’s voice to be heard in parliament, they should be adapted for the following situation. A constituency should not avoid electing MPs on the chance they may have a child and be forced to take time off, the same way an MP should not be forced to choose between their lives and their political career.