We need our pollies in parliament, not Woolworths
On Saturdays, British PM David Cameron shops at his local Sainsbury’s supermarket. The rest of the week, his wife Samantha buys the family groceries online. Mr Cameron pays under 50p for a pint of milk and has very little time to pick up his kids from school.
If you found that information important, you probably think a political leader should have a full life beyond their day job. By extension, you are then interested in what sort of a real person they are. For example, where do they shop and what do they buy.
However, if you found it frustrating and irrelevant, you probably think people like David Cameron have a busy enough time running the country to worry about saving 10 pence on a bottle of milk. He’s Britain’s prime minister - who cares how or where he does his shopping?
Well, according to The Daily Mail, the British public care a lot. Many have joined in the attack, led by Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who accused Cameron and his counsel of being “toffs” who are completely out of touch with lives of their constituents.
One particularly helpful citizen has even created a Twitter hash tag #davekeepsitreal for everyone to post their ideas on how Cameron could pick up his game.
“Helping Clegg wash the jag every Sunday (when he’s not on holiday),” said one.
“Eat caviar straight out of the tin”, said another.
Also, this one made me laugh: “His favourite song is.“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Butler.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone truly caring about what brand of dishwashing liquid our PM uses at home in the Lodge. Or how much quality time she gets with Reuben, the family cavoodle. But some people do. Especially in the beginning of a new term of office, and when times get tough.
It was revealed some time ago that the cupboards in her Altona kitchen cupboards were totally bare. Then there was the Malcolm Farr piece about Ms Gillard’s usual Sunday night order from the now defunct, Portia’s Place, in Canberra. It’s shan-tung lamb with steamed broccoli, by the way.
Perhaps our concern for these matters comes from wanting to be sure that our politicians understand where “most” of us are coming from. That they talk the same language, eat the same food, and watch the same shows on television.
Kevin Rudd was pretty enthusiastic about the language part. Pity it was so cringe worthy. His “new media” approach to his prime ministership was often more awkward dad joke, than man of the people. But at least he tried.
In purely voyeuristic terms, this kind of domestic detail can be pretty interesting, but it adds absolutely nothing to serious political debate or insight into the quality of a leader.
We elect our politicians to do their job. To lead the country and make good decisions at the lateral level, on behalf of all of us. If they’re doing a good job of that, it rarely, if ever matters, how they spend the rest of their time, or how much they think a packet of Tim Tams costs this week at Coles.
And that’s within reason, of course. Much of the hoo-ha regarding David Cameron’s grocery habits comes from a deep resentment of his bad policy making. These are not good times for most people in Britain, and Cameron’s snooty accent would be enough to rub the infamously classist Brits up the wrong way. But that’s not enough to hang the man on. Or it shouldn’t be.
The same goes for our PM. At the end of the day, Ms Gillard’s political credibility should be a judgment about her leadership; her understanding our place in the world economy and her ability to make decisive decisions. Where she buys her breakfast cereal has nothing to do with it.
Follow me on Twitter: @lucyjk
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