Never one to sit on the fence and hide hisfeelings, UKIP’s Nigel Farage has again voiced his opinion without perhapsconsidering the emotions that his comments can engender in a significant partof the very voters he may one day look to gain support from. His ‘target’ thistime around was a particularly sensitive issue, that of breastfeeding in publicplaces and therefore new mothers in general.

After the decision by Claridge’s hotel to suggestto a breastfeeding mother (35-year old Louise Burns) that she should coverherself up after providing a ‘shroud’ with that in mind, Farage was initiallyquoted as saying that they may be best advised to “perhaps sit in the corner” when they intendto breastfeed instead.

His comments indicated his belief that it should be at thediscretion of the particular venue where the ‘act’ occurred as to whether it shouldbe permitted or not, a form of local ‘rule’ that customers would be obliged toadhere to when on the premises. He had added that breastfeeding in publicplaces made some people feel uncomfortable, although it was not an issue that hehad any strong opinions about.

Clearly seeing that his comments had beenmisconstrued and misinterpreted by the media, he later clarified his viewssomewhat by insisting that he had no issues with women choosing to breastfeed “whereverthey want” but that the whole issue was just a consideration of what is classedas “good manners”.

The comments (however unintended they may be) aresure to raise the blood pressure of many people who would view any suchrestriction as going against a woman’s natural right to breastfeed their childwhenever and wherever they may be. Not only could that offend from a publicliberty viewpoint but it could be suggestive of viewing such a grouping as the ‘dunces’in the class.

This may not be an age when breastfeeding in public places is ascommon as it used to be, but it does occur from time to time and is surely anatural behaviour for a woman to want to do to maintain the close (and natural)link to their new offspring.

Whether a particular company or corporation has aright to impose their own ‘values’ on the general public when they enter theirpremises could be a moot point, in a way it could be viewed as an extension oftheir own homes being open to the public as soon as the doors are unlocked on aworking day.

Would they suggest a similar “covering up” or less ostentatious approachif they found the same situation occurring in their own home or would theyexpect the mother to ask them at the time if they had any objections to suchbehaviour?

For many mothers it is not really a civil libertyissue that they commonly come across, as many choose to bottle feed rather thanbreast feed, but surely they would not expect such a draconian approach as tobe directed out of the way should feeding time arrive while they were out andabout. Of course, from a practical and comfort point of view, a seat in thecorner might actually be a more pragmatic way of meeting the need, ensuringthat mother and child are not bumped into by other shoppers while breastfeedingis occurring, but that is surely their choice when considering how best tocarry it out.

Some may well agree with Farage’s belief of itbeing concerned with ‘good manners’ (although the very term soundsold-fashioned in the extreme) in that a mother should consider how other peoplemay view her actions and not just assume ‘carte blanche’ when outside of theirown homes. It could be argued that feeding time is more than likely to be at a ‘pre-arranged’and planned time to get feeding into a regime or pattern. In which case themother is being perhaps slightly naive and unprepared to be in the store whenthe time arrives, although in a busy day it may be a case of ‘needs must’ whenthe time is reached.

On the other side of the argument you have theviewpoint of a more ‘enlightened’ generation who would perhaps take no noticeof people exposing their bodies in public anyway, as there is nothing to beshocked or made uncomfortable about, in which case the consideration becomesacademic.

Whatever one’s standpoint, it is clear that theUKIP supremo has once again raised yet another heated discussion point and onesomehow doubts it will be his last!