November 6, 2007Foreign Affairs

In support of David Miliband

Balancing fatherhood and foreign policy is not easy

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

You have a choice—you can either attend a hi-hi-hello-hello meeting with an important business partner or go to the hospital to witness the premature birth of your second child. You would certainly not be at fault for choosing the latter.

Even if you are the British Foreign Secretary and the important business partner is the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia.

So Stephen Glover, who the FTs Gideon Rachman describes as one of Britain’s more pompous columnists” is talking through his hat when he criticises David Miliband for choosing family over Saudi royal family:

Whatever we may think of the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia, it is surely not good practice to stand up the Foreign Minister of any country, much less an important ally, without a very good reason.

Mr Miliband’s excuse was that he had to fly to America with his wife, Louise, to be at the birth of their newly adopted son, who was born prematurely.

I doubt this constitutes a very good reason.

In the event, they were too late to be present at the birth.

However, their adopted son, Jacob, would hardly have been aware that they had not made it in time, and is not very likely to hold it against them later.

A husband may justifiably cancel a meeting - though perhaps not one as important as this one - and fly to America to be at his wife’s side as she has their baby.

But it would appear to establish a different sort of precedent for a husband and wife both to down tools and hare off across the Atlantic so as to be present at the birth of their future son. [Daily Mail]Instead of going into the merits of skipping the meeting with the Saudi prince what we have is an uncalled for examination of Miliband’s private life. What’s even more egregious about Glover’s comments is that he implies that it is somehow less important for the father—indeed both parents—to be present at the birth of the child just because it is adopted. It doesn’t look like Glover knows anything about the topics he’s writing about.

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