Lisa Markwell: Don't come between fathers and daughters

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

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?

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
With an eye for strategy: Stephen Fry’s General Melchett and Rowan Atkinson’s Edmund Blackadder  

What Cameron really needs is to turn this into a khaki election

Matthew Norman
An Italian policeman stands guard as migrants eat while waiting at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way  

Migrant boat disaster: EU must commit funds to stop many more dying

Alistair Dawber
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own