Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I've already mentioned this story but I just have to bring it up again.
The BBC report:
Mrs Blair gave an inside account of life in Downing Street in her speech, for which she was billed as the UK's "first lady". All tickets for the lecture - billed as the inside account of the "First Lady of Downing Street" - at the 2,500-seater Kennedy Centre were believed to have sold at between £33 ($60) and £52 ($95) each.
It would be against the ministerial code for Mr Blair to receive money for such an engagement. The ministerial code does not impose these same conditions of behaviour on the spouse of the Prime Minister. One might speculate that the authors of the code did not feel it was necessary to explicitly state such a condition. After all, one can expect a certain amount of integrity without having to formalise it in the ministerial code.

From the Guardian (PA Report):
The Conservatives have accused her of exploiting her husband's job and urged her to hand her fee - thought to be £30,000 - to charity.
I don't know what standard fee a QC might expect for a public speaking engagement, but I'm reasonably certain it isn't £30,000. What irritates me the most about this story is that the Prime Minister and his wife don't even seem to understand why people might be unhappy about it.
Questioned on the row during his visit to Washington the Prime Minister gave an exasperated shrug and told reporters: "I don't think there's ever anything I can say on these things that can make it better."
Yeah, like, whatever!

Update: From The Scotsman
In the lecture, Mrs Blair complained that she was the victim of sexism about her money-making activities, comparing her situation to that of Baroness Thatcher's husband.
"Denis Thatcher also had a number of outside interests. No-one found anything wrong with that," Mrs Blair said.
But although Sir Denis served as a director of several companies while Lady Thatcher was prime minister, there are no recorded instances of him publicly speaking about his life as her husband, much less being paid to do so.
Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no but, what happened was, right...

(I have to say it's a sad day when I'm holding up Denis Thatcher as a paragon of virtue. It does say a great deal about our current "First Lady".)

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