It should be no contest, you’d have thought. Public spat between million selling child-care author and a politician. Who’s the public going to instinctively trust? And what’s the general tenor of online comments on the stories going to be like?
So when I saw the news that Nick Clegg has said that Gina Ford’s highly prescriptive and detailed child care instructions weren’t for him and his family, I expected the coverage to be at least mildly critical and the online comments to be far more so.
That’s not how it has turned out though. It’s both to Nick’s credit (the reasons he gave, about trusting parents’ instincts and not being slave to detailed orders from someone else, are good) and to Gina Ford’s discredit (with her comments suggesting that Nick Clegg’s comments mean he’s not fit to be Prime Minister and disagreeing with her book is an insult to millions of Britons). One Telegraph writer has even talked of the “menacing tone” in Gina Ford’s comments.
It’s also striking how few and far between defenders of Gina Ford have been online. Tweets today expressing a view have been around 9:1 in favour of Nick Clegg or criticising Gina Ford.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail is not exactly normally a hotbed of commenters who have nice things to say about Liberal Democrats but the balance of comments and votes on comments so far has very much been with Nick Clegg and against Gina Ford. Likewise, though a little less surprisingly, over on the original story in the Sunday Times the balance is very much against Gina Ford.
In a minor miracle, even some commenters on The Scotsman have had a nice thing or two to say about Nick (and if you have had the misfortune to wade through previous comment threads there with the highly predictable, repetitive and rude comments, you’ll know what a remarkable occurrence that is).
For a million selling author who says that around two million people following her advice, the fans of Gina Ford seem remarkably thin on the ground.