Iain Duncan Smith used to frustrate his advisers by refusing to conduct any photo opportunities with his children. His advisers wanted these photographs to prove that he was a family man but he insisted that his four children had not chosen public life and he was not going to give the media any excuse to start treating them as public property.
David Cameron has chosen a very different path. He has spoken movingly of the respect he has for the NHS because of the care he has seen it provide his disabled son, Ivan. He is regularly photographed with his children, they featured prominently in webcameron’s first video and he seasons his speeches with references to his family.
It’s certainly being noticed and far from everyone is impressed. Andrew Gimson, in today’s Telegraph, thinks that Mr Cameron – and the other politicians who use their children as political props – are making it harder for other people to consider a career in politics:
"While Mrs Cameron listens with serene good nature to her husband’s high-minded declarations about their children – "There is nothing that matters more to me than the safety and the happiness of my children", as he put it in Bournemouth – neither of them can actually be with those children. Political life must impose a most dreadful strain on family life, and this is surely one reason why, as far as possible, politicians should leave their families out of their speeches. To be the son or daughter of a leading politician must be hard enough without finding that one’s father has gone off to Bournemouth and is using one as a rhetorical device to demonstrate how keen he is on the family."