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Stop muzzling leaders' wives

PUBLISHED: 10:51 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 06 July 2010

MOVE over WAGS, footballers' wives are so last season.

This season's new darlings are the WOLOPPs.

The three 'Wives of Leaders of Political Parties' daily waft across the front pages to be picked over, analysed and judged.

MOVE over WAGS, footballers' wives are so last season.

This season's new darlings are the WOLOPPs.

The three 'Wives of Leaders of Political Parties' daily waft across the front pages to be picked over, analysed and judged.

Intelligent, educated and high-educated women but their considered views on the future of Britain are not of interest. All that matters is their skirt lengths.

Manifestos and the real stuff of elections past are so last campaign.

Why care about public sector job cuts and impending financial disaster when Sarah Brown is sporting a polka dot dress?

Column metres are devoted to where the WOLOPPS buy shoes, how much a scarf cost and if they do or don't - hold their husband's hand in public, that is.

What Sarah, Sam and Miriam think about British troops in Iraq, inheritance tax or the future of the NHS doesn't come into it. They don't think and say - they wear, smile and accompany.

Tax breaks for married couples? SamCam wore cropped trousers last week. Hurrah.

The obsession with the wives is too much. Let them get on with their own lives and their husbands fight for their jobs.

And why aren't the WOLOPPS at work like everyone else?

What 'normal people' can take a month off work to “support” a husband in his job or chase a dream - or even secure time off to nurse a sick child, for that matter?

What century are we in? What are we educating our daughters for if our nation's leaders are expecting their women of strength and achievement to be no more than meek consorts?

And where are their children? Obviously childcare costs aren't an issue for them. But they are for so many ordinary people they are trying to identify with.

And if any spin doctor believes that Sam Cam's occasional slumming it in Top Shop will sway the vote of an out-of-work single mother fighting the prospect of home repossession and bankruptcy they're living in a different universe.

I've yet to meet anyone who gives a fig about the price of SamCam's shoes, Sarah's jacket to Miriam's woolly cardi.

But people do care that, in 2010, the battle for Number 10 is yet again an all-male fight and women are merely the sidekicks.

All three main parties harp on about representation of women; equal opportunities and progression but where is the next female leader?

There is still not a woman within sniffing difference of even emerging as a potential leader for the next election.

Yvette Cooper, a possible force for the future, even dared to hint she was being kept in check by the male party Rottweiler by having to do a “second division” press conference.

Meanwhile, the wives are content to be dragged round like Stepford wives gushing about love, romance and life at home.

At best, they look wifey. At worst they come across more like helicopter mothers hovering over their “little boy” husbands watching out for gaffes, un-tucking their shirts from their pants and holding their hands crossing the road.

All the parties' attitude towards women is illuminating and demonstrates that now, more than ever, Westminster and its people are so far removed from the lives of ordinary people and our concerns for the future.

The turnout for the General Election is predicted to be less than the dismal 64 per cent turn out at the last poll.

This week, it was revealed that more than one in five Britons never eat at the table.

There is a correlation.

Families that eat together regularly, round a table, talk together. They discuss the day's events and issues, banter and learn about each other. They ask questions

Families dining together will discuss the General Election, issues that effect them and opinions of the campaign. They will talk about voting.

This is great fodder for first-time voters to encourage them never to waste their vote - or take it for granted.

Families who don't eat together tend not to talk to each other, are disparate, disjointed and remote.

How can parents be expected to know or understand their children if they don't interact with them daily across a dining table? There is no substitute for a family sitting down to a meal to chat.

A dining table is far more essential and worthwhile investment for family life and everyone's wellbeing than any widescreen TV, computer or games console.

Prince Harry spent £10,000 on champagne in four hours.

Just as he looked like responsibility and maturity had caught up with him, he has done something else so stonkingly silly it can't pass unchallenged.

After intensive army pilot training, he treated his entourage to a £10,000 booze spend at Bouiji's nightclub in London.

The prince bought £200 bottles of vintage champagne adding up to the cost of price of a mid-range family car for the rest of us.

Hardly an expense from his Army salary.

It would, of course, come out of his private income from the Civil List -his privilege paid for by us.

His grandmother is desperate for 'The Firm' to appear frugal as the recession bites.

Ra-Ra Harry obviously takes us much notice of his grandmother as he does of the lives of real people struggling to keep their heads above water.

Party leaders might be safe to wheel out the wives for wholehearted unwavering support during an election campaign but David Cameron has discovered it's best to keep a mother-in-law confined.

Pregnant Samantha Cameron's mother, Lady Astor, revealed her daughter was “bored rigid” by politics and preferred girly chats about furniture and stationery. Sam, it shows.

The Viscountess also said she couldn't fathom all the fuss about economic crisis because her furniture business Oka was doing “really well” and restaurants she goes to are still full.

Well, M'Lady, that's all right then. We don't expect to see her down at Lidl soon communing with ordinary folk her son-in-law hopes to snare.

More than 140 people turned out at our village pub last Friday night to try to save it from closure.

It was standing room only and many hadn't stepped across its threshold for years, apart from its Friday takeaway fish and chip nights.

Suddenly, I'm living in a united community fighting to keep the last surviving facility in our village of 660 people since the post office and shop closed two years ago.

We know that if the pub goes the village will wither to a mere dormitory.

An idea is for patrons to buy £500 shares in the pub and run it as a cooperative - like the plot of the BBC's The Archers' where villagers are attempting to buy the village shop.

Other ideas include diversification and opening a café and using part of it as an art and crafts centre.

A community coming together like never before is inspiring and heart-warming. The innovation, creativity and ideas coming from people who merely lived in the village but ever got involved is amazing.

What felt like the end of an era now feels like the start of an exciting new one where strangers who have lived side by side for years are now working and pulling together to keep life in their village.

And I thought that spirit only existed in the fictional Archers.

Health service chief executives lapped up their average seven per cent pay rises last year while nurses got a paltry three percent.

Chief executives earn seven times more than the average nurse with senior managers earning £150,000 with the highest paid on £270,000.

Trusts say executives were “worth the money.”

How can you assess worth comparing highly-skilled people working at the sharp end dealing with the worst situations, saving lives, handling tragedy, facing daily abuse and assaults and being paid peanuts because they have a vocation?

Does a glorified administrator as a chief executive have a vocation or his or her eye on a lucrative career?

Following vocation today is largely sneered at because it means being taken for a mug and pursuing a job in the full knowledge you'll be undervalued, underpaid and under-respected.

So to hear Sir Norman Bettison, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, say that his £213,000 salary and pension package was too large and pay packages of public sector chief executives are unjustifiable, irresponsible and must be reined in was more than refreshing.

Sir Norman waived his performance-related bonus last year. How many other highly paid executives did the same?

The public sector waves mighty pay packets to tempt fat cats from the private sector when, under their noses, are people already in organisations, who followed their vocation and are more than capable of handling the pressure, management and strategies.

But the public sector seems dead set on pretending to be the private sector with all its excesses.

On the continent, wine glasses are a fraction of the size of those in British pubs. There is no option of “large or small” and beer is drunk slowly and savored.

In Britain drinking copious amounts in the shortest time is a good night and only if a fight, vomiting and an unsavoury incident recorded and circulated by mobile phone the next day is thrown in.

A Lowestoft bar has had to employ extra door staff and serve drinks in plastic cups - like a birthday party of clumsy toddlers -and random search its clientele on Friday and Saturday nights after crime and disorder.

Greenfields, a family run bar and restaurant, has suffered a "significant number of incidents" since it opened last July.

Sadly, for publicans, you can choose your pub, your trade and your beers but not your clientele. Then it's too late.

How sad that we have to treat adults like incapable babies by serving them drinks in plastic cups and mollycoddle them because they have no self-control or self-respect.

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