View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
18 July 2016updated 28 Jul 2021 11:12am

“I’ve got a wife and children”: Owen Smith’s Andrea Leadsom moment

The Labour leadership contender listed having a family as one of the reasons he is “normal”.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The Labour leadership candidate and MP for Pontypridd Owen Smith is under fire for claiming that having a wife and children makes him “normal”.

During an interview with Sky News (watch below), written up by the Evening Standard, Smith responded to an observation made by his fellow guest, MailOnline reporter Matt Dathan, that he could be perceived as “normal”:

Matt Dathan: “One of the things a lot of the public always say is that we want someone normal in politics, we want someone normal leading our party, and the very fact that, Owen you’re [air quotes] ‘normal’ is maybe an asset.”

Owen Smith: “I’m glad you think I’m normal. I am normal. You know, I grew up in a normal household. I’ve got a wife and three children. My wife’s a primary school teacher. I’ve been in Parliament for a couple of years now, six years, and before that I had two or three other jobs, in business, and in politics and advising on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

“And I think I can bring that normality, that sense of what our communities want. I live in the patch where I grew up, and I represent it and I’m very proud of that.”

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Although he was listing a number of factors that make up his “normal” guy pitch, his inclusion of having “a wife and three children” is controversial. This is chiefly because it suggests that if he were unmarried, or didn’t have children, he would somehow be something other than normal. An incendiary observation, particularly in light of the fact that his key opponent in the Labour leadership race is a gay woman, Angela Eagle.

Smith’s gaffe is most likely a sign of naivety rather than nastiness. Nevertheless, it betrays a worrying lack of sensitivity and media experience for someone striving to be one of the most senior politicians in the country. Especially in light of another television interview he recently fluffed, by saying “austerity is right”. (The line should have been that he is running on an “anti-austerity, pro-prosperity” platform).

And following the furore caused by ex-Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom’s comments aimed at Theresa May about motherhood and childlessness, he should have known better.

Content from our partners
Unlocking the potential of a national asset, St Pancras International
Time for Labour to turn the tide on children’s health
How can we deliver better rail journeys for customers?

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU