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I was a politician’s daughter, so I’m backing young Caroline Cruz

Ted Cruz’s daughter ruins photocalls by making bunny ears behind her dad’s head and refusing to hug him for the cameras

16 April 2016

9:00 AM

16 April 2016

9:00 AM

Like millions of non-Americans hooked on the US election, I’m backing someone even though I don’t have a vote. I love Cruz and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m not talking about the oleaginous Ted, but Caroline, his seven-year-old daughter. Caroline is that rare thing in politics — an actual human being. Her eyes glaze over in campaign videos as she’s forced to deliver a succession of facile lines. She ruins coordinated photocalls by making bunny ears behind her dad’s head and refusing to hug him for the cameras. She slumps, listening to endless mind-numbing speeches at never-ending rallies, very obviously bored out of her mind.

She is the antithesis of Chelsea Clinton — so primped, every bit as ruthless as her mother. She shows up the older Trump children for the pawns they are. In her petulant apathy, Caroline is just like us, the people.

But the main reason I like Caroline is that I used to be her, on a much smaller stage. As the youngest child of former Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay, I know how tiresome it can be to have a politician for a father.

I was born two weeks before the Greater London Council election in 1981. The first picture taken of me was printed in the Surrey Comet in a piece about my father’s candidacy. My mother looked elated, exhausted and beautiful in a William Morris-patterned dressing gown. I was in her arms, my two brothers at her side. It was the first and last time I co–operated in presenting my father as the perfect family man.

In 1983, my family was marshalled again, this time for his election leaflet as a prospective MP. At the precise moment the picture was taken, I crapped all down my brother’s leg. Fortunately, back then pictures were reproduced in black and white and came out slightly grainy.


Poor Caroline has to traipse across the length and breadth of the land, waving at crowds to further her father’s ambition. A politician’s family must get accustomed to being on display and always on the move. In the run up to the 1987 general election my family spent most weekends doing the 240-mile round trip to Peterborough, where my father was standing. As we hurtled up and down the motorway, my brothers and I could only register our protest by chanting endless rounds of ‘I know a song that’ll get on your nerves’ from the back seat.

According to family legend, I pretty much ruined my father’s career when, at the Labour party conference in 1994, I marched up to the shiny new leader, Tony Blair. When he asked who I was, I explained, very earnestly, that I was the daughter of Andrew MacKinlay, adding: ‘But he won’t come over because he doesn’t want to be part of this pantomime…’ The infamous chipped-toothy grin threatened to slide off Blair’s face, and he moved on. My father’s reputation as a member of the awkward squad was sealed.

I caused trouble, on principle, because I was bored. But there was an upside to all the hoopla. Even as a child I couldn’t help but be swept along by the hype of a rally, the rousing speeches, heartfelt singing and enthusiastic yelps and cheers. I didn’t quite understand what it was all about but I soon learnt the words to ‘Jerusalem’ off by heart. And listening to a speech my dad gave off the cuff without notes but with huge passion was inspiring even if I didn’t understand what he was saying.

But I admired him most on the doorstep, campaigning for Labour. I recall him standing down a very tall, very fat and very threatening supporter of a far-right group furious that he’d had the temerity to post a blatantly socialist leaflet through the letterbox. My father is small, I noticed then, but he’s also tough. He refuses to be intimidated by anyone, especially not someone intent on voting BNP.

Like me, Caroline Cruz probably sees much less of her father than other kids at her age. Sometimes we’d go to Parliament to meet Dad for dinner. If we hadn’t, we might have forgotten what he looked like. I felt very privileged to get to walk about in the House of Commons, seeing the politicians who made history stride about. Ian Paisley terrified me, not merely on account of his loud voice but because as he shook my hand I could feel my tiny bones crunch in his enormous clenched palm.

I was fortunate in the fact that my father never used my brothers or me to make any sort of political point. We were just part of his life, and his life was that of a politician. Looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t publicly fed a hamburger at the height of the BSE crisis, as John Gummer’s daughter was, or wheeled out for a post-sex-scandal photo call — like David Mellor’s children — to help save his career. What a burden of responsibility they must have felt.

Nowadays, things have changed. Here in the UK, unlike America, we frown on using kids to promote politics at all. As a journalist, I once interviewed Gordon Brown. As soon as his aide saw our photographer, he whipped the family photos out of sight. That seems a healthy impulse. Children should not be turned into little PR trophies.

But they don’t have to be airbrushed out of political life, either. Caroline Cruz, for instance, is a revelation. I hope the spin doctors don’t crush her rebellious spirit, and that we will see more of her misbehaving. If Ted weren’t such an odious creep, he’d realise his daughter is far and away the best thing about his campaign.

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Show comments
  • Tickertapeguy

    A vote for Ted Cruz is a vote for Hillary.
    If Ted Cruz wins the Republican nominee he will face Hillary Clinton (who will beat Sanders). Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party will challenge the court ruling that allowed Ted Cruz to run as a Candidate for Presidency.
    The Democratic party has control over the US court system and Mr. Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father who was a refugee.
    Strictly going by the Constitution Mr. Cruz has a greater chance of losing if his eligibility is challenged in Courts. When he loses that will leave Hillary Clinton to win the electoral college votes. Most who support Trump will not vote at all if Trump loses.
    Personally I suspect many who support Hillary cast their vote for Mr. Cruz, mainly for this reason.

    • Johnnydub

      Unless of course Hillary is in prison where she belongs…

      • Tickertapeguy

        Then Sanders will be nominated and the process of taking out Cruz will remain.
        Sanders is an avowed Communist who is an insider. the big issue in these elections is to avoid candidates who are career politicians. Sanders will step into the shoes left by Hillary
        I cannot even imagine a Communist for a President but it could happen if Cruz is nominated by the GOP.

        • Daidragon

          He’s a democratic socialist. Like Corbyn. Commies believe in revolution not democracy.

          • Tickertapeguy

            What are the principles that define a “Democratic Socialist” and how they differ from the term “Communist”. I would like to know

          • Geo

            Socialists believe that the mob has the right to extract the wealth and strip the rights of unpopular minorities. Democratic socialists have the decency to ask said minority first, before continuing.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Thanks. Socialism means that the government has a cradle to grave policy for the people
            Unfortunately those who run the nation live like rich Capitalists while giving the minimum they can to the people.
            In that sense Socialism is very similar to Communism. There is no “Democracy” in Socialism.
            It would be similar to many communist nations calling themselves “Democratic Republics” when they are neither.

      • Anna Bananahammok

        Unfortunately that’ll never happen.

  • Trailblazer10

    “oleaginous..odious”

    You seem to have the measure of him.

  • Ken

    At least Donald Trump is a transparent fake when it comes to religion. Cruz is a fundamentalist fanatic of the worst sort – as crazed as the Islamists.

    • Jona

      How so?

  • Ted Cruz is “obviously such a creep” “oleaginous…. odious” – that is the level of “argument” the left produce against Senator Cruz. Why is this article in the Spectator? Indeed why is the coverage of American politics normally so ignorant in the Spectator?

    As for Ted Cruz – yes he does believe in religious liberty. Which makes him an evil “fundamentalist” to the leftists in the comment threat who have not even read the essays, from the early 1900s, on the “Fundamentals” of Christianity that the word “fundamentalist” comes from – clue, the essays were NOT opposed to evolution and so on, they were about fighting against the leftist “Social Gospel”. But most of the campaign of Ted Cruz is actually about economic policy – but as the establishment people who insist on giving us the “benefit” of their opinions on Ted Cruz have not bothered to read his policy proposals or listen to any of his speeches or Townhall events, one would not know this.

    Senator Cruz is a highly intelligent man who has thought carefully about policy. And the reaction to him is the ignorant abuse that makes up most of this comment thread (and the article itself).

    • Geo

      Why does one need to believe in religious liberty? Why can’t it just be liberty full stop? We should be aspiring towards liberty for all, not simply for the backwards bible-bashers.

      Besides, that isn’t even the point of Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz wants to blur the lines separating Church and state, and govern along more religious lines. That is not religious liberty. It is a license to trample over the liberty of non-believers.

      Of course, since atheists are a whiny little minority, they should just shut up and accept living in a watered-down theocracy. They don’t deserve rights or liberties. Anyway, according to Ted Cruz’s father, you’re probably a pervert or something if you don’t believe in God. Only blind fear can give you moral guidance (as well as a 2000 year old book).

  • As for the “birther” lunatics in the comment thread.

    Ted Cruz would defeat Hillary Clinton – your man Donald Trump would lose.

    The words “born in the USA” do not occur in the Constitution of the United States (they are actually a song by Bruce Springsteen). A person born to a citizen is a “natural born citizen” regardless of their place of birth – otherwise a diplomat or a merchant (and so on) could not go abroad. This was made clear as long ago as 1790 (yes 1790). Many candidates for President have been born in other countries (for example George Romney who ran in 1968 and John McCain who ran in 2008). The courts (in many States) have ruled on this matter many times – as Ted Cruz (perhaps the leading student of the Constitution of his generation) knows well. God save us from the followers of the Trumpery. And from their real backer – Mr Putin.

    • Daidragon

      Ted Cruz is the perfect candidate for the Democrats. I reckon he’d struggle to get 35% of the popular vote.

  • John Von Neumann

    Caroline is a funny kid – a little rebellious but cute. This shows her dad lets her be who she is but the best thing about Cruz is simple: He’s not Trump, Clinton or Sanders. Trump is a lowlife who often doesn’t know what he is talking about and when he does, he’s lying. Clinton is one of the most corrupt people in politics and just as much of a lowlife as Trump, And Sanders is honest but he’s delusional and too old and too far left to be president.

  • #toryscum

    If one is standing on someone else’s doorstep, it’s not reasonable to ‘stand them down’, no matter their political views.

  • solis

    I can’t imagine something more sleazy and oily than a Labour MP. Snake oil salesmen by definition.

  • Erica

    I <3 Caroline Cruz

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