Ian Monk: We want politics not child's play

What the hell is it about politicians and children?

Ian Monk: We want politics not child's play
Ian Monk: We want politics not child's play

No sooner does Ed Miliband parade his youngsters, aged two and ten months, at the Labour Party Conference than the PM pitches up at a Premier League football match to be photographed with his five-year-old son cheering on 'his' team, Aston Villa. Quite why David Cameron should support Aston Villa has never been fully explained. Presumably someone believes it helps credibility in those West Midlands marginals?

Meanwhile, Miliband's top team continues the footballing theme with its own ludicrous pre-conference football match photo call.

The 'narrative' is that Labour MPs take on the lobby journalists and narrowly lose 3-2. The truth is that the pictures of Ed Balls and Andy Burnham prove that soccer is not a game for deskbound forty-somethings.

Balls and Byrne may sound more like a lower league midfield duo than past and potential Cabinet ministers but, as the bulging midriffs and breathless grey faces show, that's as far as it goes.

The press, of course, is kind enough to use both the doting dads and the puffing footballers pictures relatively uncritically. Pictures of politicians putting their children on show will be handy when the press has to fight off calls for increased privacy. 'Ah, but politicians love to parade their families when it suits them,' will be the media pleas to the inquiries seeking tighter regulation.

Meanwhile, the football pictures are given the kid glove treatment because the match featured journalists as well as politicians. This joke is on the readers.

Hobnobbing with senior Murdoch executives may be off the agenda for the time being. But hacks and politicos can still rub shoulders on the soccer pitch.

'We're all in this together ...' and between us we'll decide what to tell the readers, viewers and voters.

As Britain slips closer to economic meltdown, don't we deserve something more than this staged child's play?

Or should we just forget party manifestos and general elections and replace them with football scarves and Dad of the Year contests?

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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