Cherie's just doing her job : Another View

Share
Related Topics
The attack in the Independent on Sunday on Cherie Booth, the barrister wife of the Labour leader Tony Blair, must have left many readers gobsmacked (as they say in certain Tory circles). The paper laid into her for recommending that a court take a tough line with a "penniless" poll tax defaulter and - worse still, in the eyes of the Sindy - for giving a lecture on enforcement to the Institute of Revenue, Rating and Valuation Officers. In other words, the lady was going about her lawful and, for a n advocate, unremarkable business.

The paper asked if it was right to castigate - "scrutinise" was the word it used - the career and actions of a wife who has no political ambitions. Yes, it concluded. But is it?

The public certainly has a right to know that poll tax defaulters are still being pursued in the courts, and sometimes imprisoned. There are also legitimate questions to be asked about the rights and wrongs of imprisonment in cases where those accused are impecunious.

But the suspicion is that this story was carried only because Cherie Booth is married to Tony Blair. Had the Sindy wanted to draw attention to the plight of poll tax defaulters, it could and should have used other lawyers and other cases in addition to the Booth example. Or is Cherie Booth using her impeccable connections with Labour councils to corner the market in poll tax prosecutions for her law firm? If so, where is the evidence?

The fact is that newspapers still tend to see women in terms of their men. Wife of, daughter of, mother of: but not people in their own right. The Sindy is in danger of giving political correctness a good name.

There is no doubt that people are interested in the wives of political leaders. And if they support their husbands by appearing on public platforms with them, comment is inevitable. It is also true they have the potential to influence their spouses. Pillow talk, it used to be called. In the era of the Clintons, that kind of influence can be more upfront. Had Cherie been trying to persuade her husband to pursue a harsh policy on poll tax defaulters, the criticism would have been above board.

What is not justifiable is to blow up something a barrister does as part of her job and use it to make a political attack on her spouse - particularly as Cherie Booth has been attacked for helping to enforce the law of the land. Does the Sindy think it acceptable to break the law? And what of all those hard-pressed people who scrimped so that they could obey the law and pay the iniquitous poll tax? Newspapers that seem to manufacture sleazy stories about spouses in order to make political points may undermine their own authority more than that of politicians. It is noteworthy that the Sindy could find only an obscure vicar to back up its story with a morally outraged quote.

Sue Cameron is a writer and broadcaster who is married to a Conservative MP.

We welcome contributions to `Another View', which should be faxed to the Editor on 0171-293 2022.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick