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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 11:10 GMT
Being a premier's other half
Denis and Margaret Thatcher at Chequers
Denis Thatcher was "always present, never there"
Denis Thatcher was retired when his wife, Margaret, became prime minister but still had to handle the tricky role of being the premier's consort.

His daughter, Carol Thatcher, witnessed his example first hand and told BBC Radio 4's Today programme how she thought Cherie Blair had fared in her property talks with convicted fraudster Peter Foster.


What we are talking about here is the role of a consort and the ability of a prime minister's spouse to cause embarrassment and inflict damage.

If you look at today's papers, Mrs Blair appears to have done that quite comprehensively with all this "sorry, my fault" stuff.

What surprises me is that this administration has prided itself on its media management and spin but failed to see this coming.

This story has gone from a standing start to high speed scandal rather like a sports car accelerating but no warning bells appear to have rung in the Number 10 press office.

Carol Thatcher
Carol Thatcher says Mrs Blair usually stays on the tightrope
That does astonish me. I think they have been very much wrong-footed.

My father, I think, was a role model for consorts from 1979 to 1990. He always used to say the role entailed being always present, never there.

I think Number 10 must be wishing the conman Mr Foster had never been there at all, or at least never been advising Mrs Blair.

She has got a very difficult role. Every day is treading on eggshells, trying to juggle a myriad or other things, including a young family.

I do think it is the duty of a prime minister's spouse not if you like to fuel the sleaze - that generally is not a vote winner for one's other half.

It is a balance, it is a tightrope. Mrs Blair does not often get it wrong but I think today's newspapers do not make very comfortable reading.


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05 Dec 02 | Politics
05 Dec 02 | Politics

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