A Shark in the Goldfish Bowl; Last Week Cherie Blair Published the Goldfish Bowl, Her Book on Prime Ministers' Wives. It Has Been Trailed in Publicity Interviews as the 'Case for Her Defence'. Here, One Woman Who Knows What It Is to Have a Life Destroyed by Politics Examines Whether the Jury of Public Opinion Is Too Harsh

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), September 26, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Shark in the Goldfish Bowl; Last Week Cherie Blair Published the Goldfish Bowl, Her Book on Prime Ministers' Wives. It Has Been Trailed in Publicity Interviews as the 'Case for Her Defence'. Here, One Woman Who Knows What It Is to Have a Life Destroyed by Politics Examines Whether the Jury of Public Opinion Is Too Harsh


Byline: MARGARET COOK

By Margaret Cook EX-WIFE OF FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY ROBIN COOK

IT IS open season on Cherie Blair, and she has only herself to blame.

She has established a reputation for both stinginess and avarice, the latest example surrounding a speech she is giving in the US to a convention of insurance executives.

Previously, her US publicists have said Cherie would be speaking only on matters to do with 'her professional and legal expertise'.

Yet the convention organisers have admitted that one of the reasons they wanted her was because they were keen to hear about her life in 10 Downing Street. Perhaps this should not surprise-us, for Cherie has shown few qualms about exploiting her position as Prime Minister's wife, either in seizing rewarding commercial opportunities for speaking or in the choice of subject for her new book.

Earlier this month she published The Goldfish Bowl, a history of Downing Street spouses during the current Queen's reign, co-authored with Cate Haste (wife of Labour peer Melvyn Bragg).

Cherie is planning to award herself the royalties, though many people thought it would be more gracious of our First Lady to give her share, or part of it, to one of the charities she supports.

The very name The Goldfish Bowl is so Cherie. It vividly portrays her grossly distorted perception of her role and herself; surrounded by predatory fat media cats out to get her, a frail vulnerable scrap at their ungenerous mercy.

The fat cats are not outside the bowl, and she is not a frail and weak morsel.

Nor is her cocooned and protected world so glassily transparent.

Her obsessive protection of her own and her family's privacy speaks more of a parsimony born perhaps of insecurity than of any wish to avoid the limelight.

Being born into a theatrical family, as she was, may obscure one's true identity.

Who is she? A do-it-all committed career woman-cum-wife, mother and homemaker?

If so, why the slavishly adoring looks at her man, the fawning, the willingness to take second place, the self imposed silence, the obsession with hair, shopping and clothes?

She ought to be above all that. Indeed, this girliness kicked in only after she trailed after him into the spotlight.

THE disastrous appearance in tousled dishabille on the doorstep just after the 1997 election could have been turned to her advantage: OK, I'm ordinary, stuff the spin. Take me as I am.

That would have led her on to true emancipation, a detachment from the No10 machine in the manner that Denis Thatcher achieved so astonishingly well.

Instead she chose to have a crisis of confidence that tipped her towards the trophy wife.

At the ceremonies for the handover of Hong Kong shortly afterwards, the wife of the ambassador to Peking, Jane Cornish, received an urgent phone message: 'Drop everything (which included me) and find Mrs Blair a personal hairdresser.'

In just two months she had acquired the effete helplessness and dependence on services rendered that we associate with Royalty.

That was the first and only time I met Cherie. She was charming and friendly.

However, her main concern, which she voiced loudly and resentfully, was that there were far too many Tories present.

Cherie is a clever, extraordinary, multi-capable woman, many times more gifted than her mediocre husband, to whose fortunes she chose to hitch her wagon.

In this she is a mirror image of Hillary Clinton: both have preferred the prospect of vicarious male power, easier to attain than the honest grinding, largely unacknowledged slog of feminist attainment.

Few women have ever made it to a position of power without the interposition of a man - father or husband usually.

Indeed, Cherie accepts this, describing herself as the daughter and the wife of somebody, maybe in the future the mother of somebody.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Shark in the Goldfish Bowl; Last Week Cherie Blair Published the Goldfish Bowl, Her Book on Prime Ministers' Wives. It Has Been Trailed in Publicity Interviews as the 'Case for Her Defence'. Here, One Woman Who Knows What It Is to Have a Life Destroyed by Politics Examines Whether the Jury of Public Opinion Is Too Harsh
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?