Lisa Markwell: Don't come between fathers and daughters

Laetitia Cash was on course to carry on the family tradition of going into politics

Share
Related Topics

There are many, many reasons to feel uncharitable towards Bill Cash. He's posh, rich and has a fine set of teeth. He's a Eurosceptic old-schooler out of synch with the reforming ideas of younger members of the Conservative Party (not least its leader). And now he's been revealed as something of a creative accountant – paying his daughter £15,000 from taxpayers' money to rent her Notting Hill flat, despite having his own flat steps away from Parliament.

His daughter Laetitia is a prospective MP, on David Cameron's A list of parliamentary hopefuls, which says a lot. Dave'n'Bill might not be hugger mugger, but Tish has blossomed within the Tory party anyway. She's learnt politics at her father's knee, after a brief, not entirely successful career in journalism. (I know, I was her boss.)

We now wonder whether daddy dearest might have damaged Laetitia Cash's chances of becoming an MP by dragging her into his part in the expenses debacle. The conservative backbencher may be many bad things, but is he a bad father?

Faced with the choice – within the law at the time – of giving rent money to a complete stranger, or to his daughter, he chose Laetitia. There aren't many dads, I'd wager, who would be able to resist (on some level) being able to treat their little princess to something. It's the small but significant fact that it wasn't his money to give which takes this story from paternal protection to murky manoeuvres.

My own father used to smuggle sweets into my bedroom in his briefcase when he came home from work – invariably after my bedtime. The crackle and crunch of Spangles all but drowned out the sounds of my mother's frustration. It was the same during teenage years, when I'd phone home from the pub, almost insensible with Southern Comfort and lemonade, and my dad would creep out to pick me up. "I won't tell your mum," he'd say, conspiratorially. Now a mother myself, I feel sure she knew exactly what was going on, but knew better than to come between a father and his daughter.

It can, of course, become a problem. There are plenty of examples of little princesses and their proud papas behaving, if not as co-conspirators, then certainly in some sort of cahoots. It seems to happen a lot in tennis: one thinks of Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, and Jim Pierce, father of Mary and inspiration for a rule banning abusive parents, coaches or players. It happens in pop: Mathew Knowles, father of Beyoncé, retooled the girl group Destiny's Child group to give his daughter centre stage, while Serge Gainsbourg famously wrote and recorded "Lemon Incest" with his little 13-year-old girl Charlotte.

Who was the driving force in these relationships? Did the girls stamp their feet and demand success, in the style of Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ("Daddy, I want a squirrel")? Or – more likely – did the fathers conduct themselves inappropriately to try to get maximum attention?

Laetitia Cash might be hiding behind her front door avoiding the paparazzi, cursing Bill for the opprobrium he's brought upon her, or feel delighted that she is receiving so much free publicity for her fledgling political career. Coming from the famed Cash's name tapes dynasty, she should know better than most what it's like to be labelled (ho, ho).

Paternal pride is a potent force: Bill Cash was wearing a real shit-eating grin in the photograph of him and Laetitia at a party emblazoned across news stories. The grin can't have been about his daughter's nigh-on see-through black lace dress. More likely it was the fact that Laetitia was on course to carry on the family tradition of going into politics.

Bill's son William's main claims to fame are a) being Elizabeth Hurley's friend and b) his on/off marriage to "the cracker from Caracas" Vanessa Neumann. No wonder Laetitia benefited from papa's attention and financial largesse. Back in 2006, when Miss Cash was trying to be selected as Tory candidate for Regent's Park and Kensington North, it was said (by an admirer) that she "looks like a model but campaigns like Rommel". Can't you imagine Bill's chest-bursting pleasure?

Of course, being a "grandee" doesn't always guarantee you'll be a help to your little girl. Bertie Ahern's daughter Cecelia has become a best-selling author despite having the Taoiseach for a dad. (Now there's someone who knew a thing or two about creative accounting.) When her book PS I Love You was earmarked for a movie adaptation, she quipped, "I think it's very flattering for Dad, actually, to think he has all this influence with Hollywood and all over the world... The reaction is, 'Bertie who?" Ouch.

The best thing a father can do for his daughter is simply to remain a dignified, consistent, supportive rock against which she can flail when heartbroken or downcast. After all, he is the model for the man she may one day marry – and who wants a trickster for a son-in-law?

l.markwell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Primary teachers needed for supply in Huntingdon

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers need...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

August catch-up: genius of Apple, fools and commercial enterprises, and the Queen

John Rentoul
Tory whips were anxiously ringing round the “usual suspects” following Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip  

i Editor's Letter: Douglas Carswell's defection

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone