Letter to the Liberal Democrats
A spokesman for Nick Clegg said that he was not looking for a row when he publicly attacked my childcare advice as being 'complete nonsense'. I should stress that I have no issue with your leader's personal views on my books. I accept that my methods are not for everyone and respect alternative approaches; I am also used to having my ideas debated in the media.
What surprised me, however - and why I responded as I did to his criticism - was Mr Clegg's lack of judgement. As leader of one of the principal political parties, Nick Clegg chose to use a serious interview to debase my childcare methods and, in so doing, criticize the parents who follow them. Here he had an opportunity in one of the quality newspapers to present his social and economic policies; but, instead, he chose to air his views on my baby care advice.
I am not alone in my concerns. One of your supporters, Robert Clondon, posted this comment in 'The Independent':
'This makes me quite angry. I support Nick Clegg, but because of this Gina Ford issue, we are talking about his views on child-rearing instead of the much more relevant (to politics) question of the Lib Dem's proposal for a £10,000 personal allowance. This is a brilliant idea that will help the poorest in society far more than his views on baby care, yet Nick's meagre media time allowance is being used up on this topic.'
That was exactly my feeling when I suggested Mr Clegg's leadership qualities might be in doubt. Four days of media frenzy ensued, with debates across the Internet. I discovered that Lib Dem campaigners were counting tweets and comments about baby care, even going to the effort of claiming that comments online were 'nine to one in favour of Nick Clegg'. Supporters of your party posted a number of highly personal and derogatory comments about me on newspaper websites in the wake of Mr Clegg's comments.
Your website declares that at the core of your philosophy is a belief in equality. It seems that you champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals - but, may I ask, is this provided individuals do not follow the 'Contented Baby' methods?
Mr Clegg is quite entitled to criticize my methods, as I am entitled to defend them. We make personal decisions about our lives, and those of our families, all the time and we must respect those whose choices are different. This is not the issue.
The question is whether the Liberal Democrats have the commitment and credibility to take this country forward socially and economically - 'A Fresh Start for Britain', as your website confidently proclaims. Perhaps your leader's ill-informed intervention in the childcare debate has helped answer it by giving us insight into your party's principles and priorities.