War of the Wives.

March 14, 2010

I knew this election campaign would be a shocker. There are two massive elephants in the room. There is the deregulation of our financial markets, and there is the Iraq War. Neither of the two main parties can really bring attention to these issues-because their position was the same. Wrong.

So instead, we get the ‘Mumsnet’ election. I have made clear my feelings about the patronising attempts to ‘woo’ the female vote, but this campaign has plumbed new depths. We now have the WAGS! Or more precisely, we have the ‘war of the wives’. I strongly recommend you do not click on that link-it may induce nausea.

Story after patronising story, where Sarah Brown smiles benignly as her husband describes waiting outside the supermarket(clearly the hustle and bustle of commerce beyond him?), or Cameron shows his ineptitude with the fucking dishwasher.

If we are supposed to view these women as measures of their husbands character- then I am actually faintly impressed. Samantha Cameron is a successful business woman, apparently a bit of a hippy in her youth. Smart and competent.

Sarah Brown especially, has been responsible for a media campaign which has rescued her husbands public image on a number of occasions. Not by accident of being likeable. A carefully planned, well executed media campaign, that has had untold benefits, not just for her husband, but for his party.

How are they portrayed? Docile. Smiling. Benign. As many references to the domestic as possible. The Stepford Wives of modern politics. Apparently the idea that a politician would be married to a woman with a mind of her own, abhorrent to the electorate.

Allegations that Samantha Cameron may possibly excercise her democratic right to vote how she chooses, seen as such a weakness for Cameron, that Sam has to meekly tell the press that of course she wouldn’t consider voting for anyone but her ‘rock’.

Both men clearly love their wives, which makes it all the more puzzling that they would betray the women they married. The women I am assuming they love because of who they are. Women who have both made considerable contributions to their husbands political careers.

To pretend otherwise, to downplay who these women are, the most important women in their lives, preferring instead to have them portrayed as  docile chattels- in my view, a fundamental sign of a lack of backbone.

To underestimate the electorate, and think that we would only accept their wives if they fit into a 1950’s stereotype  is one thing. To betray the most important women in their lives, and allow their considerable contributions to be reduced to what they wear, and asinine articles designed to reinforce stereotypes of women who chuckle at their mans domestic incompetence-quite another.

In my opinion, the war of the wives has been won. By the wives. I would sooner vote for Sarah Brown, or Samantha Cameron, than either of their husbands.

Considering this is the campaign that is all about the ‘womens’ vote-we are screwed. I have never seen a campaign which showed more clearly the disdain politicians have for women’.

Still, what would I know? I can’t fill my pretty little head with all that, being a stay at home mum and all. Haven’t I got something to clean, or a mans ego to massage?



  1. Find the whole ‘wives’ thing deeply tiresome. Was really hoping we were beyond this for 2010 elections but it’s as prevalent as ever. See it as a) an attempt to divert us from the actual events that should drive this election b) a disappointingly lazy way for journos to cover ‘election issues’ in a female-friendly (they think) manner and c) utterly patronising and reductive to both us and the women in question. Lastly, really hate anyone defining women solely by their marital status. Men are rarely referred to primarily as husbands. Ugh.

  2. I was nearly moved to tears by a photo mosaic of Emmeline Pankhurst today at Manchester Art Gallery… and get back to this post… ironic and very very sad

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisaansell: War of the Wives- https://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/battle-of-the-wags/

  4. The Stepford Wives – Election Special!

    Couldn’t agree with you more – except the de-regulation bit – that, or rather ignoring what they got up to afterwards and sacking anyone who complained – was entirely a Gordon Brown production 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, and thank you much for reading. Have to respectfully disagree re: deregulation. George Osborne at AEI, spouting exactly the same policies- way into the boom starting to go bust. Conservatives traditionally against regulation- and the deregulation done by Brown- very much a continuation of Conservative policies. It was the adaption of traditional labour ideaology, to one that embraced ‘business interests'(I would argue that corporate interest, and the interests of UK business very different)-that got them support from the sections of our media who have corporate interests guiding their editorial. But these policies were the policies of the Conservatives from Thatcher getting in, to Major leaving. Argued for, and fully supported by Conservatives when in opposition.

      Underneath the veneer of ‘compassion’- current Conservative economic policy, very much on same lines.

      Agreed re:GB though. He doesn’t get enough scrutiny for how we ended up here.

      David Cameron-speech to London School of Economics. 2007

      Particular quote -”the agenda is clear.

      We need deregulation to promote commercial competitiveness.

      We need decentralisation to promote public sector productivity.”

      David Cameron was treasury advisor to Norman Lamont, and absolutely an advocate of the monetarism that led to this situation. He was still arguing for deregulation as late as 2008/9, only once the scale of current situation became clear, did he even adopt the rhetoric of better regulation, and even then he was saying ‘better, not more regulation’, in addition to simplified and lower taxation, and rolling back of public services.

      • I’ve not got a problem with de-regulation (you can probably guess my politics – but I’m OK really!) – it’s the unfettered sack anyone who rocks the boat kind that gets me angry. It was this government after all that created the FSA in it’s current guise and appointed the head of a bank to run/oversee it!

      • Different political perspectives healthy-you might find me being scathing about some Tory policies, but you won’t find me dismissing out of hand political views that differ from my own, or the role that a healthy opposition plays in a healthy democracy(which arguably at the moment, we don;t really have)
        You have a point about the FSA- but at the end of the day economic policy has followed the same lines, regardless of party- same with foreign policy.

        Oh god, I sound like Carole Vorderman on Question – THey’re all bastards I say…all bastards*please read that in a cackling, slightly irritating voice. Written word not good for impressions.

  5. A problem I have with ‘the wives’ is that I’m not sure if I’m seeing what they’re really like. I think their image is being constructed by PRs. It’s no great coincidence that Sarah Brown has managed to motivate hundreds of thousands of women on twitter when her husband is a notoriously poor communicator. Maybe I’m too cynical. And you’re right, they appear benign and unquestioning of their husbands. They’re carrying out the role that politicians wives have done for generations. It would be nice to see a change.

  6. After both of them playing “my baby’s deader than your baby” and realising this was a card that could hopefully only be played once, it was natural for Cameron and Brown to try to use their wives to try to show the micron of difference between them. Personally, I find the spectacle – and the wives’ co-operation with it – utterly nauseating. Neither of them has the first hint of a plan for economic recovery, social inclusion, ending the war or God forbid, facing the fact that the US-UK “special relationship” only works one way. That the wives are both prepared to go along with this insulting, demeaning spectacle is a huge statement of how desperate Cameron and Brown are to be PM, desperate in every sense except a good one.

    • Agreed.

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