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Why it was no picnic growing up as the son of a Tory MP

Having a prominent Conservative as a father was tough at a Labour-supporting school in the 70s and 80s and even though I’m 52 with children, I still keep quiet about who he was

Have you ever seen such a happy family? All mucking in together to wash the car on a weekend, deeply engaged in conversation while we work. No, neither have I, but this is all part of the job of being the child of an MP. I’m the child second from right with a sponge, doing my bit of election propaganda when my father, George Gardiner, was standing as Conservative candidate in the February 1974 general election. It’s a role thrust upon you, with no say in the decision and, from experience, I can affirm it is no picnic being the child of an MP.

This particular photograph never made it, but he won the election and became Conservative MP for Reigate, a job he held until 1997. A rightwing trouble maker, or “a viper slithering around in the parliamentary pit” as John Major described him, he was never low-profile, something not helped by a trenchant column in the Sunday Express.

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