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The meaning and origin of the expression: Spend more time with my family

Spend more time with my family

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Spend more time with my family'?

A euphemistic way of describing being made redundant.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Spend more time with my family'?

'I am looking forward to spending more time with my family' has become a familiar formula used by UK politicians to make the best of things when they are obliged to leave office at short notice, and that's where this expression originated.

British Prime Ministers, especially recent conservative PMs, have developed a reputation of overnight purges of their cabinets when they see trouble ahead. Harold Macmillan was a notable example of this when, in The Night of the Long Knives in 1962, he dismissed seven cabinet colleagues. Margaret Thatcher also had quite a number of dismissals and forced resignations during her tenure. At various points, James Prior, Ian Gilmore and Lord Soames were sacked and Michael Heseltine and Nigel Lawson resigned.

Spend more time with my familyMany of them were wealthy landowners and might well have welcomed the opportunity to return to their estates to spend more time with their families. However, none of them used that mantra: that was left to Norman Fowler and, contrary to expectations, he wasn't forced from office, he actually did voluntarily leave his cabinet post as Employment Secretary in January 1990, to spend time with his family.

Fowler didn't actually say 'I intend to spend more time with my family', but he came very close to it. His resignation letter to Margaret Thatcher included this line:

I have a young family and for the next years I should like to devote more time to them while they are still so young.

Whether Fowler was entirely happy with that choice isn't clear, but he did return to front line politics two years later.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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