By Elizabeth Renzetti, Globe and Mail, June 15, 2012
It was, in a strange way, a good week for the news to emerge that Mr. Cameron had left his child behind, because it obscured all the news about the millions of other children being left behind in his government’s ferocious austerity push. The pub story overshadowed Oxfam’s report that growing income gaps in the country mean that Britain is facing “a return to levels of inequality not seen since Victorian times.” It overshadowed news that the government has failed to reach long-standing targets for reducing child poverty (there are either 2.3-million or 3.6-million children living in poverty, depending on whether you factor in housing costs or not.) Everyone reported Nancy-in-the-loo, but there was little coverage of a report that said one-third of British parents of disabled children had to take out loans last year to pay food and electricity bills – a situation that will be made worse by the government’s slashing of disability allowances.
I’m not saying that Mr. Cameron deliberately left his child in The Plough in order to divert attention months later during a bad news week. No, the poor man probably felt as guilty as anyone would who’d left his child in a pub, on top of a car, or indeed in a farmer’s field. Now if only he’d start feeling guilty about all the other children he’s forgotten.
There is a real insight in Ms Renzetti's piece, that apparently has more application than just to Britain.
It seems that a Prime Minister's daughter who escaped to the loo, and was overlooked by her parents for a bare 15 minutes, can and does cause more alarm than 2.3 or 3.6 million other children living in poverty.
That curse on the public consciousness is merely touted as another of the rather bleak statistics facing many countries in this period of belt tightening.
The PM"s opponents, including the media, will delight in their heyday, at the PM's expense.
However, those millions of children whose lives are blighted every day go unnoticed, unmentioned, unnamed and undervalued. And for that omission, we are all responsible.
And not just in Great Britain.
There is a growing blind spot to the plight of poverty among children, almost as if they are not important, unless and until, of course, they emerge into the shadows of the night causing trouble, getting the attention of police and law enforcement, and then they become "just another bad apple" in a barrel that have grown lazy and indolent.
It seems the adult community vacillates between indulgence of their children and ignoring them, and that includes the part of the adult community responsible for social policy, the government. We indulge them at birthdays, Christmas (in the west) and at graduation when it is our pride they are feeding by their accomplishment. Of course, there are individual parents whose daily attention verges on smothering their children. For them, one wonders who needs whom more, parents or children, and the fiscal ledger seems out-of-sight-out-of-mind.
However, with respect to public policy, we are generally a careless, self-indulgent, and narcissistic lot, the adult community, and Ms Renzetti's piece highlights our feeding at the trough of public gossip at the PM's expense, without paying so much as a 'fig' for the millions in real and serious and unstoppable danger. And his awareness of our carelessness permits his policy....and he knows that too!