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

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Retail Business Analyst - Retail-J

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Year 1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 1 Primary Supply Teachers ne...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Forget Yes and No — what about a United Kingdom of Independent States?

Ben Judah
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week