Back from drop-off at the school gate where, as parents, we work together to marshal our children. Inevitably, one child will call another one some stupid name, or tease them. Another One will be given a cuddle because they are upset that they have just been called a name.
As parents, we tell our children that name-calling is unacceptable. But as politicians, we seem to positively encourage it.
In the past week alone, David Cameron described Ed Balls at the “most annoying person in British politics”, Chris Huhne compared Baroness Warsi’s remarks to Goebbels and Ed Miliband refused to share a platform with Nick Clegg.
It doesn’t stop there. Cameron’s outburst means that it becomes legitimate for Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail to write a column about the 20 people in politics who annoy him most.
Now imagine that all these people were five-year-old children. What would you do with them? What if I had just bumped into Mrs Letts in the school playground and we had talked about what young Quentin was going to do when he grows up? “I really think that one day he will be able to write about all the people that really annoy him,” she boasts. Is that an ambition we want for our children?
Good management training teaches us that negative feedback should be done with care and precision. Never describe the person. Always describe the incident. Never say “Your attitude is bad”, always say “I thought your attitude regarding this specific task was wrong”.
Like it or not, we as parents are shaping a society of the future. Politicians of all persuasions tell us to be responsible parents. I accept that responsibility. Now I would like the political classes to play their part, too.
When I turn on the television, I would like children to learn that name-calling is not the norm. Right now my naughty step would be pretty full.