This new labour should now take place in private

Related Topics

hile I'm staunchly pro choice, I'm also glad the debates on the right to life of the unborn child remain controversial. I hope, though, that the right of the unborn child to a private life will not prove problematic. For, while the news that Cherie Blair is pregnant has been greeted with great excitement and goodwill, how unlikely a harbinger of happiness is the British tabloid press. And the statement that nestled alongside the Blairs' expressions of joy - that they were sorry they had been deprived of sharing the news first with close friends - is poignant. Part of the joy of pregnancy is sharing your news with your family, then gradually telling others. Even the little subterfuges, in which we allow ourselves to be caught out by observant friends, are a particular kind of pleasure; a pleasure that Mrs Blair will now not have.

Thank heavens that the medical practice which has dealt with Mrs Blair's medical needs thus far has remained discreet. Although I haven't heard such accusations levelled at the NHS, whose services Mrs Blair is using, receptionists at some private clinics have been known to tip off the media. And we can be thankful too that this leak has occurred after the first trimester.

The source of the Mirror's briefly "exclusive" revelation was allegedly a seamstress who put two and two together when asked by an effervescent Mrs Blair to let out some of her clothes around the waist. Perhaps the Prime Minister's wife wanted her usual outfits to be subtly altered to buy herself a little more time from the unforgiving eye of the media's fatuous fashion police - the very fashionistas whose good opinion she has also given every indication of craving. If so, her harmless ruse has backfired spectacularly.

How odd it must be for the entire world to know you have a foetus growing inside you; and that you will go into new labour next May just in time for the anniversary of the general election. How weird to realise that strangers are speculating over when you must have conceived your baby and watching video clips of you and your husband on the summer holiday when you must have "done it" - as if the Blairs were parents to the country, and that we, their children, can't bear to think of them in flagrante delicto.

How very public, in a few short hours, those very private and intimate things have become. This child of Tony and Cherie will be the first child of a premier to be born in the full glare of the media, and Cherie will be the first premier's wife to have to cope with close public scrutiny of her pregnancy. ill we be able to do the decent thing and leave her to it? Or will we spend the next six months scrutinising her body, speculating on her tiredness, assessing her glow and discussing her home-work-balance decisions?

And if we do, can there really be any harm in it? For is this not a happy event? Even the most hardened cynics must surely take their hats off to Cherie Booth QC and newly appointed part-time judge; a woman who already has it all, but who nevertheless is looking forward to squeezing in a great deal more. As yet Mrs Blair is managing it all with unforced equanimity and every indication of a huge generosity of spirit. But what a task it may prove to keep it up.

Many women complain that their body becomes public property during pregnancy, and how shocked they are to find that people assume the right to touch them without asking. Could millions of people now be given the opportunity to run their hands, at least by media proxy, over Mrs Blair's swelling tummy? I very much hope that she will give those hands a firm smack.

Because, in many ways, it is this kind of benign and celebratory intrusion which is the most insidious. Mrs Blair may feel compelled to share her own thoughts and feelings with a public that is wishing her so well. But I hope that she does gently insist on her right to privacy in this matter, and that her request is granted, for several reasons.

First, the Blairs understood from the outset that it was best to protect their children from the media with some ferocity. If they now play along with the media's idea that this is "the nation's baby", it will be impossible for them to recapture the high ground. If the public is told that the Blair babe is kicking, will it not then expect to be told when the Blair baby is crawling, then walking, then talking? The Blairs must begin as they mean to go on - and letting Alastair Campbell issue statements on how the child was conceived in France, not Italy, was not the best of starts..

Second, and more importantly, the Blairs now have a real chance to demonstrate a living, breathing and growing clarification of the demarcations between public and private life. For, while the development of the "First Foetus" is certainly going to be of great interest to the public, there is no way at all that this can be considered to be "in the public interest". The closest experiences we have seen to Mrs Blair's imminent fourth child were the late Diana, Princess of ales's two pregnancies.

There was some argument for public interest in these cases, since the children Diana was carrying were viewed - in some corners - as having an automatic relationship with the public, as a matter of tradition. However, while Mrs Blair is not like the vulnerable and unstable woman the princess proved to be, surely we must now accept that the intense and intrusive speculation which surrounded Diana's pregnancies must have contributed negatively to her already compromised sense of self. No doubt Mrs Blair will be able to handle whatever pressures her pregnancy provokes, and yet I very much hope that the media will leave her to get on with it quietly. I for one will not be stroking this undeniably fascinating bump.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower