Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Troll's pompous post on working political mum shows dinosaurs haven't all died out

New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern took her baby daughter Neve to the general assembly of the UN
New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern took her baby daughter Neve to the general assembly of the UN

By Lindy McDowell

Ah, the travails of a modern working mother - all those things you have to juggle simultaneously. The job. The childcare. The trolls...

Nichola Mallon, the SDLP MLA and former Lord Mayor of Belfast, was photographed the other day sweeping into Stormont talks with Secretary of State Julian Smith, pushing her little baby in a baby buggy.

The picture was taken by the Beeb's Gareth Gordon who, like all the rest of us, will have been impressed by this image of can-do, parental work ethic.

Well, maybe not quite all the rest of us...

The sight of a young working mother just getting on with the job somehow managed to destabilise a Richard of Twitter who decided to share his thoughts.

"Sorry, she is being paid to represent us as an MLA, how can she conduct herself properly if she has a hungry infant in tow?," he gurned.

Conduct herself?! An infant in tow?

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Spit it out Richard, why don't you? Get into that kitchen, woman, and rattle them pots and pans... and as if that wasn't enough, Richard then decided to throw in a little abuse. "Stop acting like a bimbo and grow up."

I'll be honest, when I read that bit about the bimbo I could feel myself bristling like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park.

Except that Richard (four followers on Twitter so obviously not a major influencer) is the real dinosaur here.

After Nichola retweeted his Jurassic post the social media response was predictably swift and heart-warmingly supportive.

Proof that we have moved on from the days when the working environment was a cold house for working parents.

I say parents because - respect to them - fathers today generally accept that childcare is something to be shared. And it is not actually such a new thing or even such a big deal.

We have come a long way from the Fifties and Sixties when women were sacked from some jobs (banking in particular) as soon as they got married.

Today very few, Richard, still believe that bringing up baby is a job for the little woman.

Or that occasionally she or her partner might have cause to take their child/children with them to work.

There are a number of reasons why they might need to. A mother who is still breastfeeding being an obvious example.

This is not an especially new thing in the political forum.

New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern took her baby daughter Neve to the general assembly of the UN.

Jo Swinson has attended the House of Commons with her baby Gabriel.

It goes without saying, common sense comes into the equation. A father taking his baby along to the building site isn't going to work.

But an MLA bringing a sleeping baby into a meeting with Julian Smith? That isn't bimbo-ism, Richard.

It is a working woman showing dedication to the job - and to her constituents.

And even if the baby were to wake up and throw an infantile strop, I doubt very much that would be a first for Mr Smith to have witnessed during talks with local politicians.

The extent of the online response ridiculing Richard's pompous post was colossal.

It would be fair to say he got his ears well and truly warmed (although a few of the posters lambasting him could do with a lesson in civility themselves).

There used to be an old line about how the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

In 2019 it also rocks the workplace.

And you know what, Richard? It is possible for a working parent to do all these things at once.

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