Leading article: Stylist over substance

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The Independent Online

The Labour Party's expenditure of more than £7,000 on a personal hair stylist for Cherie Blair during last year's general election has prompted fresh grumbling about the role of the UK's unofficial "first lady". No doubt the Prime Minister's wife is thoroughly used to being a hate figure by now. Much of it she brings on herself, not least through an unseemly preoccupation with money. But it is hard to condemn Mrs Blair on this latest charge.

Being the Prime Minister's wife in a frantic election campaign is a difficult role. It is not that ridiculous for a key performer to have a stylist on standby. She is certainly photographed enough for her appearance to matter. We would note, however, that considering the Labour Party is paying for her hair, it is a shame the contents of her head do not have a greater influence on the Government's thinking on civil liberties and foreign policy. If they did, Mrs Blair's maintenance would seem cheap at twice the price.

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