Catholicism, Sexual Guilt - Inside the Mind of Cherie Blair, by Her Friend

Article excerpt

Byline: GEOFFREY LEVY

A REMARKABLY detailed insight into the mind of Cherie Blair, explaining behaviour that has 'mystified friends, colleagues, maybe even her husband', appeared in The Times yesterday.

The article, headed Inside the Mind of Cherie Blair, was written by columnist Mary Ann Sieghart, a close personal friend and confidante of the Prime Minister's embattled wife.

Miss Sieghart, an unashamed Labourite who once held ambitions to head the No 10 Policy Unit, is so close to the Blairs that when she and her ex-Army officer husband David Pritchard gave a dinner party for them, the Blairs were told they could pick the other guests themselves.

Her explanation of why Cherie Blair is so dependent on Carole Caplin makes fascinating reading.

It all began it seems with fear - Cherie's fear that she could not measure up to constant public attention when Tony became party leader in 1994. Most of all, it seems, Cherie was worried about how she looked, and for this the Daily Mail, which focused on Mrs Blair's fashion sense, is singled out for special blame.

The Prime Minister's wife had never felt good about her appearance until she met this guru (Caplin), explains Miss Sieghart. Before Blair became leader she simply had not bothered. In her youth she had been content with playing the role of the clever daughter.

'Blair did not mind that she never wore makeup and took little interest in her hair or clothes. It did not matter to either of them. . . suddenly, though, it did matter. . . she did not want to let her husband down.' As the leader's wife, she was not expected to express her views, so for the first time the intellectually superior Cherie 'had to shine without opening her mouth. And the woman who made her shine, who transformed her from a slightly frumpy bluestocking to a passably beautiful consort was Carole Caplin.'

Unlike her husband, Cherie had 'never been a person who naturally felt comfortable in her skin. Imagine the gratitude she would have towards someone who helped her at last to feel good about herself.' Explaining Cherie's 'cranky interests and her far-out friends', Cherie's confidante says that many of the clues are to be found in her deeply religious Catholic upbringing.

'You could, for instance, argue that the therapies she has espoused are not incompatible with her faith but, literally in this case, complementary,' Miss Sieghart discloses. The state of holiness that Catholicism inspires has parallels in the state of wholeness that holistic therapies promise.

Both require faith and the suspension of disbelief. Both use oils, water and incense to induce a sense of mysticism. …