ANALYSIS: BIG QUESTION; Norma v Cherie: who packs the bigger PR punch?

Leaders’ wives have hit the limelight as the political parties step up their campaigns

Leaders’ wives have hit the limelight as the political parties step up

their campaigns

Mary Spillane CMB Image Consultants

‘Cherie Blair has the Hillary Clinton dilemma of being a very capable

women, hence the move towards the mumsy image. But the notion that she

might sit around and knit jumpers just isn’t believable. Norma Major is

a good example of a political wife who stands by her man while still

being interesting in her own right, but if she is pushed too far in a

political direction it won’t work. Both of them need all the help they

can get with their image; they should take part in the whole PR process

and not allow themselves to be manipulated.’

Maureen Smith The Communication Group

‘All is fair in love, war and politics, so the political parties should

use whatever assets they feel they have. Norma Major has had several

years to adjust and evolve within her role. She is now more polished

than she used to be and plays the supportive wife very well without

appearing too pushy. Poor Cherie Blair is new to the role, has a job of

her own and doesn’t look as if she enjoys being an appendage to her

husband. Tony Blair should play it solo.’

Alison Holmes Liberal Democrats

‘The ‘PR value’ ratings of spouses is a cynical and deeply depressing

development in British politics. What it says is that no matter what a

couple may choose within their relationship they are no longer

individuals in their own right but are required to serve a function such

as personality enhancement or poll asset to their spouse.’

Stephanie Churchill Stephanie Churchill PR

‘Both women create an interesting, slightly controversial, publicity

angle and add a human element to the campaigns. However, potential

problems could loom if either oversteps her supporting role and is

singled out for too much political commentary.’

Peter Oborne Sunday Express

‘Alf Ramsay said that his midfield ace Martin Peters was ten years ahead

of his time; the same applies to Cherie Blair. The British public is not

yet ready to cope with an extremely able career woman as Prime

Minister’s wife. She is in a no-win situation, because when she tries to

play down that image, as with the embarrassing Prima guest-editorship,

it just doesn’t work. It was an attempt to turn her into a version of

what Norma Major actually is - the perfect consort. As long as she

[Norma] stays two steps behind her husband she is perfection itself.’

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