There’s always a debate as to the extent that politicians’ family should be fair game for media coverage. There seems to be a general consensus that their children should be off-limits. Mind you, that didn’t stop Caroline Spelman’s 17-year-old son being pitched into the national limelight recently. (However, in that case there appear to be justifiable reasons for coverage).
Over the last week, we have seen a number of stories concerning UK politicians’ fathers and wives (or, more correctly, wife).
The Guardian led last week with a story about David Cameron late father’s financial arrangements. Yesterday, the Telegraph ‘exposed’ George Osborne’s father for having expensive tastes in desks, amongst other things.
Miriam González Durántez, who is married to Nick Clegg, is in the news for, in the words of the Telegraph, being “hired by Kraft, the US food conglomerate, three weeks before Nick Clegg called its takeover of Cadbury “just plain wrong” “.
Open question: To what extent are politicians’ responsible for their father’s and spouses’ actions? Should David Cameron be criticised because of the financial machinations of his father decades ago? Should George Osborne be criticised for his father’s taste in desks? Should Nick Clegg be accused, in some quarters, of “hypocrisy” because his wife works for clients which Nick Clegg has criticised?
My feeling is that there are justified areas of jounalistic enquiry here. But I think editors need to be cautious as to the extent to which they “hype” these stories. For example, I do not think that the Guardian was justified in making the financial actions of David Cameron’s father (some of which must have been carried out while David Cameron was, presumably, a child or teenager) a splash, top article, front page story.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team and blogs at Liberal Burblings.