Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Women's Pages Proclaimed That I Was a Bad Influence on Young People

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Women's Pages Proclaimed That I Was a Bad Influence on Young People

Article excerpt

This year, my mantra will be: "Never apologise, never explain." This modus operandi has worked miracles for the Catholic Church over the centuries, and it hasn't done Lord Falconer any harm, either. It is the sort of ruthless, confident credo that will sit well with my part-time persona as the ambitious, pushy villain who smokes Gauloises while pregnant and besmirches a fine family name. It was after I had taken part in a programme on Radio 5 over Christmas that I plumped for this new slogan.

My eyes were red and sore from exhaustion, and my ulcer was throbbing from a combination of Bailey's and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, as I stumbled into the studio. Christine Hamilton and I had been invited to help listeners choose the year's biggest "turkey". The long list of unpopular celebrities and political losers had been narrowed down to Anthea Turner, John Prescott and William Hague. Christine insisted that Prescott was a failure mainly because he "already looks a bit like a turkey". I blearily chose Hague for his magnificent contribution to the teenage drinking debate last summer. The producer thanked us so profusely you would have thought the debate had been as stimulating as aReith Lecture. In the carhome, I pondered the similarities between Prescott, Turner and Hague, and concluded that they had all spent the year apologising for gaffes and attempting to defend their points of view. These are errors of which I, too, have been guilty.

Last March, on Michael Parkinson's Sunday radio show, I fumed that a heavily pregnant Cherie Blair was being treated like a "trophy wife" when she was paraded for the media during the PM's trips abroad. When the Sun and Mirror rushed to Cherie's aid and accused me of "jealousy", I couldn't resist the urge to defend myself. I wrote my own version of events so that I would be "understood", and this duly appeared in the Sunday Times. …

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