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Leaders' wives and the election campaign

Clare Spencer | 15:06 UK time, Friday, 12 March 2010

Samantha Cameron and Sarah BrownDavid Cameron has announced that his wife Samantha will join him on the campaign trail. Commentators consider what the role of the political spouse will be in this election.

Jan Moir in the Daily Mail says she would be more inclined to vote for Mrs Cameron and Mrs Brown than for their husbands:

"For the truth is, not only do both these women give their pumpkin-head husbands a lustre they do not entirely deserve, they are quite often more impressive than them, too. As mothers, they have had to confront their own tragic losses, and no one could doubt their devotion to their families. As women, they have never been defined by their husband's jobs - not yet anyway. The coming months could change all that."

Alexander Chancellor in the Guardian questions how useful the support of wives will be:

"It may well suggest to the public a lack of self-confidence by a party leader to make his wife campaign on his behalf. None of our most successful prime ministers - Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Harold Macmillan, Margaret Thatcher, even Tony Blair - have resorted to this tactic."

Toby Young in the Telegraph wonders if Samantha Cameron getting involved in the campaign could come across as inauthentic:

"Her discomfort in the role of the loyal political wife, banging the drum for her husband, will be so obvious it'll be a big turn-off for the fence-sitters. It reeks of precisely the sort of phoney electioneering that today's media-savvy voters can spot at a hundred paces. People will think, 'If he's reduced to brow-beating his wife into pretending she's a member of the blue-rinse brigade, he really must be desperate.'"

Susan Hill in the Spectator argues that leaders' wives are completely irrelevant to the election:

"This election, more than any election for a very long time, is about extremely serious issues. It will and ought to be decided not on who has a little windmill on their chimney pot or who shouts at his secretary, but on the desperate state of the British economy and how we may be in an even more seriously bad state a couple of years down the line. We owe a terrifying amount of money with little apparent idea as to how we may pay it back and could well be in as parlous a mess as Greece if things are not managed properly. So Mesdames Brown and Cameron are less than irrelevant to it and we should not allow the media to con us into believing otherwise."

Joan Burney at the Daily Record echoes these concerns:

"If the pair of them want to stand for Parliament in their own right, well and good. I'm sure they'd both be no worse and even, as successful women, better candidates for Westminster than many.
"But until then I think they should get on with their own lives and leave their worse halves to slug it out without the little women in tow."

Links in full

MailJan Moir | Daily Mail | Forget Dave and Gordon, it's their wives I'd vote for!
GuardianAlexander Chancellor | Guardian | So it's Sarah Brown v Samantha Cameron
TelegraphToby Young | Telegraph | Is Samantha Cameron world's most reluctant political wife?
TelegraphWill Heaven | Telegraph | Samantha Cameron vs Sarah Brown: This could get nasty
SpectatorSusan Hill | Spectator | It's the wimmin innit?
SpectatorDavid Blackburn | Spectator | Uptown girl
RecordJoan Burney | Daily Record | Leave the wives at home

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