Why Carole Is Bad for Cherie

Article excerpt

Byline: Catherine Gould

Psychologist Philippa Davies reveals the bare truth about Cherie Blair's best friend and admits to Catherine Jones that she actually fancies Alastair Campbell

When top psychologist Philippa Davies saw the Marie Claire photographs of Cherie Blair posing with best buddie and lifestyle guru Carole Caplin on the marital bed of Number 11 Downing Street, she was struck by the peculiarity of the pose.

'It's very weird,' says Davies, a spin expert whose client list has included a Prime Minister, MPs and cabinet ministers, as well as prestigious businesses such as Selfridges, British Airways and British Telecom.

'I'm a couple of years younger than Cherie and I could never see myself at my age sitting on a bed like that, unless it was a wedding. It's so girly - what 16-year-olds do.

'I met Carole Caplin years ago in London, around about the time that Cherie must have met her. Everybody who worked in the media went to classes that Carole Caplin and her mother used to run in Pineapple and out of their flat.'

Back then, says Davies - who hit the headlines last week when she suggested some women in the National Assembly were too fat - Carole and her mother, Sylvia, had a health and wellbeing business called Holistix.

'I turned up at this exercise class and Carole was there in a totally transparent leotard. There was just no point her wearing anything - it was just completely transparent. She might just as well have been nude running the classes.

'She's a massive exhibitionist. Carole has been talking for 20 years of this amazing New Age centre she's going to get and some man she's met who's going to fund it and it's never ever happened.'

Davies, a fervent Labour supporter who coached John Major at No 10 from 1995 to 1996, has her own theories about why Carole, who has a weekly wellbeing advice column in the Mail on Sunday, has become so close to Mrs Blair.

'I don't think Cherie has got any other friends,' says Davies, who coached all the Cabinet ministers at the last election and 100 MPs for Labour's 1997 election campaign.

She comments that she has not seen any of 'those kind of Labour women', such as publishing boss Gail Rebuck or QC Helena Kennedy, come forward to stick up for Cherie if ever there has been bad publicity.

'I didn't see any one of those kind of Labour women the same age as Cherie saying, 'This is my mate and she's okay'. Now I'm sure people must have been asked because it's the first thing you would think of as a spin doctor.'

Recently Davies, an author of eight books who runs workshops on how best to present oneself, was asked by the BBC to examine footage of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for a documentary about the difference between their personalities.

'Blair is so flamboyant and can't wait to get out there on the platform and Gordon is so austere and self-effacing. It's the real difference in style between High Church and Catholicism.

'Everyone goes on about Cherie being barking. I'm not surprised at all. Her being a Catholic is not far away from being barking! Whereas Brown and Sarah are much more austere and puritanical - and I think the spirit of Wales is much more like that.'

Davies, a former actress who turned to study when she found she was out of work for six months of the year, coached cabinet ministers in areas such as the media and speech-making at the last election.

'Some of whom have gone on to great and good things and others who have disappeared in a cloud of ignominy...

'They would be very practical sessions. We did questions and answers as though they were in an interview or press conference. I've been doing this work for about 17 years and at the beginning politicians still cared a bit about how they stood up on platforms and made speeches. But now it's all about how they perform on television and radio. …