31 Things We Learned From Reading A Decade's Worth Of Blog Posts By Andrea Leadsom
She's one vote away from becoming prime minister, but just who is Andrea Leadsom? The blog she's been running since 2006 offers some clues...
1. Her "real passion in politics" is not leaving the European Union, but ... early intervention.
Leadsom has written extensively about how she thinks that an individual is primarily shaped in their early years – and therefore how it’s crucial that babies are given support.
2. This support should begin from the moment of conception, Leadsom believes.
All expert witnesses stated that if we are to improve outcomes for children we must start at conception, as the emotional health of the mother during pregnancy can have an effect on the foetus and a lasting effect on the child," she wrote in July 2014 after attending the launch of a perinatal parliamentary inquiry.
3. She argues that the riots in August 2011 sparked by the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan might have been avoided through early intervention.
"Violent criminality, self harming, drug abuse, depression, homelessness – all of these are life sentences handed down by parents when baby was too young to do anything but cry himself into an exhausted sleep," she wrote at the time.
The following February, she went on to write: “I am not seeking to justify or excuse the actions of the rioters in August but I would like to explore how we can prevent these scenes from ever being witnessed again. Early Attachment is the ultimate in prevention and I believe that prevention is not only far kinder, but far cheaper, than cure.
"I put forward the case that the way to prevent the social breakdown we saw so vividly last August is by early years intervention from conception to age two.”
4. She has some seemingly contradictory views on same-sex marriage.
In one blog post, she said she believed same-sex relationships are “as valid” as heterosexual ones:
“I wholeheartedly believe that same-sex couples have as valid a relationship with their partner as do heterosexuals. I also believe that in the eyes of the state we all deserve to be treated equally," she wrote on 4 February 2013.
5. Before she said that she has “sympathy” with constituents who think same-sex marriage will impact on their own liberty.
“I have deep sympathy with the hundreds of my constituents who fear that legislation for same-sex marriage will profoundly encroach – although this may be unintended – on their right to live according to their faith.”
6. She then went on to “positively” abstain on the same-sex marriage bill by going into both the "aye" and "no" voting lobbies.
"Although I agree with this issue in principle, I do not think that the legislation that has been brought forward is completely right, and even though it has been heavily amended in the Commons and the Government have gone to great lengths to provide assurances that the rights and beliefs of others will be protected in this Bill, I have not been completely convinced that there would not be some unintended consequences," Leadsom said in June 2013.
7. Leadsom also expressed concern about young siblings being adopted by a gay couple.
Responding to an article about how the grandparents of two young children were not allowed to adopt them because they were considered “too old” and instead were put up for adoption against their wishes, she said: “As if that weren't enough, the two strangers are a gay couple, who have been selected ahead of several heterosexual couples.”
The comments were made in a blog post from January 2009, a year before Leadsom became an MP.
11. She delivered a petition against "explicit" sex education in primary schools to the Department for Education.
12. Religious leaders may be able to help international diplomacy.
After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran captured and then released 15 British servicemen and women, she asked: "I wonder whether we might build a better understanding with Iran if we encouraged and facilitated more communication between religious leaders through the language of two of the world's oldest and greatest religions?”
14. The UK could learn some lessons from Portugal... and its attitude towards theme park health and safety regulations.
When her son got a migraine on holiday, Leadsom was surprised to find theme park staff agreeable to her request for painkillers.
She wrote: “Portugal joined the EU more than 20 years ago – how come they manage to keep some common sense, when all over England, our theme park staff are not allowed to trust parents to take care of their own children?”
15. Failed bank bosses should be punished, Leadsom believes.
“If the government has any courage, it will punish those at the top of failed banks. Accountability is critical in every area of human endeavour – there has to be a penalty for failure otherwise it's only a matter of time before the economic pain our banks have caused to so many innocent businesses and home owners is forgotten," she wrote in 2009.
17. A year before becoming energy minister, she celebrated the fact the European Commission was considering ending subsidies for wind farms.
"It is not often that I find myself in agreement with an idea from the EU; however, I completely welcome the announcement," Leadsom wrote.
18. She once wrote five blogs in one day.
"I seem to have gone blogging mad today," Leadsom wrote at the beginning of May in 2007, while a PPC.
In the space of one day Leadsom blogged on Margaret Thatcher's legacy, questioning why Scotland would want to be independent, the Bank of England's independence, and whether Prince Harry should go to Iraq (and if he were even ever to return alive...).
Oh, and the final blog was about... early intervention!
She wrote: "Did you know that the greatest risk of violent death is when you are less than a year old? And for those that survive, the damage that is done to the developing brain patterns of tiny babies by neglect and abuse from their own families is to blame for much of the crime and anti-social behaviour in Britain?
"I'm going to write a major blog to explain this better, but more than ever, I'm determined to bring awareness of the vital importance of the earliest bond between parents and babies into mainstream politics..."
19. She wrote a "Tory mum's recipe for a perfect British society".
20. She once attended a pro-hunting ball, noting that "hunting is alive and well, and so it should be".
"What a great evening! The party was held at Whittlebury Hall, and I should think about 250 people were there," Leadsom wrote in 2007.
"The men wore black tie or red hunting coats, with the ladies in anything from trousers to mini dresses to ball gowns. In addition, the atmosphere was fantastic - everyone out to have a good time, with a live band and a casino, as well as flowing wine…”
21. Before becoming an MP, she envisaged a future role for herself in government.
"If I have any influence over a Conservative government in years to come, I will be urging decent management... don't over-promise, keep policy changes simple, and carry them out effectively! Far better to make good but modest changes that actually work, than to promise complicated, radical change that falls flat on its face."
22. She uses outdated and racially insensitive language.
In a blog post called "Racism – The Real Legacy of Slavery" Leadsom recalls voters from the 2005 general election campaign trail telling her "they would only vote for a party that was willing to get rid of black and coloured people from this country".
25. The financial crisis was bad, but guess what was worse...
"Really annoyed, I blogged when Alastair Darling announced that the taxpayer would be footing the bill for Northern Rock's losses – a £3 billion injection of new equity from you and me, the generous new owners," Leadsom wrote in August 2008.
"Even more annoyingly, my computer screen froze and I lost the blog, so it never went live on my blog site......"
26. Writing in 2009, Leadsom warned it would be "seriously bad news" if Britain lost its triple-A credit rating.
"If a downgrade happens, it is a huge blow for our economy, and will potentially set us back several years in repaying our debts, and returning our finances to health," she said.
27. She once supported a bizarre volunteering scheme helping drunk people in Northampton town centre.
"[The volunteers'] job is to be like kindly uncles and aunts... they try and talk to the young people and offer them lollipops to soak up the alcohol (but also because it's hard to pick a fight when you are sucking on a lollipop!)," Leadsom blogged.
28. She was once amazed by the number of wealthy young people who support the Tories.
After attending an annual fundraiser in February 2008, she wrote: "No big auction this year, but a silent auction instead, where several prizes were bid at well over £50,000. It is a great sight when over 1,000 guests are competing to hand over cash to fund the Conservatives back into power. The most impressive sight of all, however, was the youthfulness of the 1000 guests! Anyone who thought the Conservative Party was full of wealthy old folk would have changed their views last night."
29. She once likened Tony Blair to a giant snake.
"What is so weird about Tony is that when he is speaking, it's almost hypnotic – you start to just accept what he is saying, and like Mowgli when he was being hypnotised by Kaa the python in Jungle Book, you have to kick yourself out of it."
31. Leadsom started writing her blog in 2006, and a decade on, may have done well to take her own advice at the time.
“It occurs to me that the reason I haven’t blogged much (actually not at all) since my selection for South Northamptonshire, is that I am so aware that everything I say and do is likely to be taken and used against me at a future time."