In Some Ways I'm Sorry Because We Women Made It Look like It Was All Easy -- and It Really Isn't; She Was Tony Blair's Gatekeeper and Is a Powerhouse in Public Relations. Anji Hunter tellsAlison Roberts Why It's Her New Mission to Help Other Women Join Her at the Top

The Evening Standard (London, England), December 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

In Some Ways I'm Sorry Because We Women Made It Look like It Was All Easy -- and It Really Isn't; She Was Tony Blair's Gatekeeper and Is a Powerhouse in Public Relations. Anji Hunter tellsAlison Roberts Why It's Her New Mission to Help Other Women Join Her at the Top


Byline: Alison Roberts

AS TONY Blair's right-hand woman, adviser, gatekeeper and fixer-in-chief, Anji Hunter was once at the centre of political power, a permanent fixture on the No 10 sofa beside the then-PM's trusted backwatchers Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell. Yet I bet she was the only one of that cosy group to have their children's homework regularly faxed to Downing Street.

"I had an ex-teacher as a childminder because I didn't want the homework side of things to slip when I wasn't there," she says, "and I'd often get it faxed up to me so that I could talk to the kids on the phone about it later ..." GCSE maths thus jostled for Hunter's attention alongside policy, diarykeeping and the PM's PR in a feat of mental compartmentalising the like of which few men on her pay grade were obliged to perform.

More than a decade later, following an eight-year stint as director of communications for BP, she is now a senior adviser at the world's biggest PR firm, Edelman. She still sees women spinning the same old work/family plates -- and counsels a steely, unsentimental focus on career.

It's a subject to which Hunter, who is 58 and married to Sky News political editor Adam Boulton, has been giving a great deal of thought lately. In a new role as mentor to female employees at Edelman -- which has pledged to hit 50-50 gender equality targets in the boardroom by 2016 -- she's being paid for what she claims to have done throughout her career. "I've always encouraged other women," she says. "I've been doing it all my life. There will be lots of women who'll read this and say, 'Yes, she helped me get on'."

Hunter joins an increasingly lively debate between those who tell working mothers to "lean in" to their careers, to "merge life and work", and those who warn of a rising "motherism", a prejudice against women who choose not to pursue their careers hell-forleather while their children are small. If she's unequivocally on the side of the leaners-in, she also recognises that it's not got much easier since the days when she and her political girlfriends "worked like buggery" and left the children with someone else.

She's mixed on the big biologism issues: small children need mums more than dads, she reckons, yet the emotional ties between a mother and a six-month-old baby should never stop a woman going back to work.

"Oh, you can get over that," she says. "As long as they know the person looking after them is kind and loves them, they'll be fine ..."

Later she says: "Of course it's terrible when they're clinging to your leg as you hand them over to the childminder, and they're wailing 'Mummyyy!' But you've got to steel yourself and get out of there. My childminder used to tell me hang outside for a couple of minutes and then peep through the window. Of course they'd be fine once they'd thought I'd gone."

That hissing sound you can hear? It's the sharp intake of breath from an entire faculty of developmental psychologists. Yet most mothers in the UK work fulltime, and for almost a third of families they are the main breadwinner -- an extraordinary rise of 80 per cent over just the past 15 years.

Hunter is often described in terms that stress her vigour or "big personality". She's a "force to be reckoned with", said the CEO of Edelman UK, Ed Williams, when her appointment was announced in July.

Her energy does seem to define her, as she strides across the Edelman offices in Victoria, 20 years older than anyone else I can see but somehow more animated than all of them.

She says she doesn't miss politics but describes her central position in the Labour government back then. In the media, by contrast, she was often Blair's "tie-chooser", which is the label she most resents.

"I was belittled by outsiders. But that didn't worry me at the time." And what about inside the camp? How visible was she really? Did they ever ask her to make the tea? …

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

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

In Some Ways I'm Sorry Because We Women Made It Look like It Was All Easy -- and It Really Isn't; She Was Tony Blair's Gatekeeper and Is a Powerhouse in Public Relations. Anji Hunter tellsAlison Roberts Why It's Her New Mission to Help Other Women Join Her at the Top
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.