Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Imelda Blair is the very model of a modern baroness

Ignore the inevitable protests – Mrs Blair understands the lot of modern women and would be a great asset to the Lords

‘When Caligula made his horse, Incitatus, a consul, at least it couldn’t claim daily attendance fees. This is beyond disgusting,” one blogger said. It’s Imelda Blair again. Or rather the putative Baroness Booth. It is rumoured that Mrs Blair is about to become the first prime ministerial wife since Clementine Churchill to take a seat in the House of Lords. Outrageous, ludicrous, they say: the British public have had enough of the crystals, chakras, white pixie boots, conniving conmen, Bristol flats and contraceptive equipment.

“Imelda is no Clemmie Churchill,” as one Tory MP put it. The Tories certainly don’t want a human rights lawyer in Westminster just as they are planning to bring in a bill of rights. And Labour is far fonder of Sarah-George Brown, who brings MPs hot chocolate and digestives after a bruising encounter with her husband and tweets away about her children and GayLib.

Surely Gordon Brown will never allow it: after all, Tony once joked that there was no danger of his wife running off with the man next door on acount of him being an iron. Lord Mandelson was horrified recently by a suggestion that he had been on a shoot with Imelda, not because he was embarrassed by the thought of massacring pheasants, but by the idea that he spent a weekend with the former Prime Minister’s wife. He won’t be putting her name forward to join him in ermine.

But, in fact, Mrs Blair would make the perfect baroness. She was only just 40 when she became the Prime Minister’s wife, she had a first in law from the London School of Economics and had been more successful than her husband in chambers, although that means fuck all. But it’s not because of her expertise on employment and discrimination law or her Imelda Blair Foundation for Shamelessly Greedy Women, that she should go the Lords, but because she epitomises the modern dilemma for many women - how much can you freeload without getting thrown in jail?.

She has had to juggle a career, a family, toddlers, teenagers, an ambitious guitar-strumming husband, court appearances, leg waxing and homework and cope with the guilt of never quite getting anything right.

The difference is that she did it in public — and was hated for it. From the moment that she opened the door in her nightie, she was vulnerable to abuse; everything from her thighs to her legal briefs were scrutinised for ten years and she was woefully unprepared. Piers Morgan remembers when he was Editor of the Daily Mirror, her pleading with him: “Please don’t put in pictures of my cellulite when I go on holiday.” Piers Morgan, eh? Wow.

She tried sharing cake recipes and knitting patterns, rushed home from football to host charity drinks parties, but she was still the grasping career woman. She may have given out too much information when she told The Sun that her husband liked sex five times a night but she was unfailingly loyal to him. Yet she was seen as his great weakness — condemned as money-grubbing for requesting discounts and miserly for shopping on eBay. But it was her salary that she had to use to buy clothes for his photoshoots and she had to pay for her own hairdresser., apart from the seven grand she hoisted from Labour old-age pensioners. No wonder she asked her crimper to multi-task as a babysitter to save money when her mother wasn’t available.

When she became pregnant at 45, there was a momentary lull in hostilities as she took off her trouser suits and donned maternity smocks, but she was soon being castigated for allowing Tony to stay up at night to feed Leo. Norma Major had kept her children in the country. Margaret Thatcher managed twins and a career, summits and smart suits, but, as she once emphasised in an interview, she had “a proper English nanny”; a husband who could support her; and children who were adults when she reached Downing Street.

Mrs Brown has reverted to the traditional role of carer, supporting her “messy, noisy” man. But Mrs Blair tried to do a bit of everything — as most women now do. The more she was disliked, the more irritating and prickly she became in public. After ten years, her autobiography, Speaking for Myself, was dismissed as “Days of Whine and Poses”. Yet she admitted dropping all the balls, and, after all, she was just another working mother, with millions of pounds assured once she helped hubby lie to the country about Iraq, necessary millions, after the Hindujahs and other crooks had dried-up.

Staff at Downing Street and Chequers protected her because, as one secretary said: “Mrs B always remembered our birthdays and our children’s ailments and she always looked like shit.” Yet instead of reaching for the Valium, she tried mudbaths and massages. And how we laughed even though women’s magazines were encouraging us to try everything from reflexology to rebirthing. I once met Imelda on a train from Birmingham returning from court (in economy) and it was easy to forget that she really did have a job. She was off to collect Leo and queue alone at a parents’ evening before returning to cook her husband’s supper and write his thank-you letters.

The next generation may have longer maternity leave and better childcare provision but we seem more conflicted. There is the headmistress of St Mary’s Calne, Dr Helen Wright, who brought her baby back to work seven hours after giving birth, and there are the women who have returned to full-time motherhood and use Mumsnet as their surrogate office.

Joanne Cash, the Conservative candidate for Kensington North, is facing a local party filled with non-working mothers who are horrified that she has dared to become pregnant just before an election. A mother in politics is still seen as unseemly. Imelda’s battles aren’t over. there is still plenty of millions to be hustled.

When she left Downing Street, she shouted to the waiting press: “I won’t miss you.” Tony whispered: “For God’s sake, you’re supposed to be dignified, you’re supposed to be gracious.” Baroness Booth wouldn’t be dignified or gracious but she would work incredibly hard if she was given a place on the red benches: her legal expertise would be in demand as would her understanding of government. But, most important, she gets modern women — and that is a rare commodity in the Upper House.




lilith said...

Oh God. I'd forgotten the "Tony and I do it five times a night" weirdness....I need to be sick and then to consult a psychiatry manual.

call me ishmael said...

As one of the resident feminists here, Lilith, do you think that Ms Thomson can really mean all this stuff? Has she forgotten the saris from the Hindujahs, the freebie holidays with showbiz riff-raff and with the grotesquely priapic Berluscone, the routine whoring of the offic eofprime minister and leader of the Labour party, te seven grand hoisted from party subs to pay her hairdresser? Do hacks get paid so much that they really think that anyone can be short of baby-sitter money, living in Downing St and Chequers on approaching two hundred grand a year, all found?

Thomson, if she believes this guff, must be living, most of the time, on another planet; more likely, as with all at skymadeupnewsandfilth, she is doing Rupert's bidding, shitting in our faces whilst easing things for the boy Tony, who has proved so useful, Cherie Blair, working mother, in touch with real people, Jesus fucking wept.

yardarm said...

Imagine, as her and Blair are flying to the Middle East; someone,somewhere gets an itchy trigger finger and their Gulfstream is sent plunging, flaming towards the ground. You can imagine her, emitting raucous throat tearing shrieks as she hurtles groundwards, clutching at the loot as it spills from its sacks, instinct dominating even to the end.

Whereas Tony would be plummeting into the lap of a disgruntled Lucifer muttering " Hail Mary full of Grace, for Christ`s sake don`t let Prescott sit on my face ".

lilith said...

She must have her eye on the main chance Mr Ishmael. Her soul sold. It has been a mystery to me for 27 or so years why women journalists are so easily persuaded to run down/embarrass their own gender.

black hole sunset said...

The girls are no worse than the boys, at least. Quite a bit better, if Heather Brook is anything to go by.

What's actually up with these Blair characters is anybody's guess. I suppose I do feel a little sympath for the pair of them; if only on the basis that they've obviously been roughly played and used by some very creepy NLP / psychoanalyst types. There hardly seems anything left in either of them that would have the guts to stand up to their tormentors, so lost are they.