Former Burnley MP’s struggle between family and politics

Kitty Ussher
Kitty Ussher
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A former Burnley MP has spoken of her decision to step down from the role and the difficulties faced by mothers in Parliament.

Kitty Ussher, who was the town’s MP between 2005 and 2010, told the Daily Telegraph of her struggle to combine Westminster and family life.

She wrote the column in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet reshuffle which brought in female ministers, many of them mothers.

Mrs Ussher (43), who went on to work for the think-tank Demos and is now managing director of research company Tooley Street Research, said: “Once I had announced the difficult decision to leave, it was noticeable how a number of older MPs, many of them men and from across the political divide, sought me out to reassure me I had done the right thing.

“I heard stories of children, now grown-up, who admitted to no childhood memories of their MP parent at home, of children setting their alarms early on a Monday morning to try to stop their parent leaving on the weekly commute to Westminster by holding onto their legs, and others insanely jealous their parent appeared to have a stronger relationship with the public than with them.

“Indeed, I remember with horror how my child’s first two-word sentence was ‘more mummy’ said on the phone as the division bell rang urgently for me in the background. And how my children, then babies, were given a media profile. I accepted their fate as par for the course.”

Mrs Ussher chose not to stand for re-election as Burnley’s MP at the 2010 general election. She was criticised for avoiding paying £17,000 in tax.