Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 14:16 UK

Cherie defends publishing memoirs

Cherie Booth
Cherie Booth said her story was that of a girl from Liverpool

Cherie Blair has defended her widely-publicised memoirs to a packed audience at the Hay Festival.

She said she had wanted to "set the record straight" after 10 years in Downing Street with Tony Blair.

But she refused to be drawn on pressure on her husband's successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown.

She said: "I'm not a politician or a representative of the Labour Party," adding it would give her "no pleasure whatsoever" to see them defeated.

Mrs Blair said she had had to remain silent while her husband was in office, but her story "was about me" not politics.

"I don't want to be seen as a vicious score-settling woman but a rounded human being," she told the audience at Hay-on-Wye, Powys.

"I wanted to set the record straight, Maybe it's because I'm a Bolshy-minded Scouser, as my husband might say

Cherie Blair

She also referred Alastair Campbell's assertion she was naive, telling the audience she did not ask people's background when she met them.

She mentioned the "raunchy stories" Campbell wrote in his youth, and added, to applause, that: "I feel people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

On her own book's frankness, she addded: "I wanted to set the record straight, Maybe it's because I'm a bolshy-minded Scouser, as my husband might say. He'd say 'why did you do that?' That's the story of my life!"

"Men don't necessarily like to talk about the more human side. He doesn't want to be regarded as soppy or romantic.

"But I'm not that open - there are no gory sex scenes, my grandma wouldn't have liked that."

She told of adjusting to life at No 10, arriving there in 1997 with no interest in fashion and leaving with 15 hats. When she left for holidays, she would always take a dark suit in case the Queen Mother died.

Press intrusion

"This is the story of a girl from Liverpool who found herself at No 10 Downing Street, meeting the Queen, the Pope, two American presidents and Stevie Wonder singing My Cherie Amour - better than my husband did."

There were shopping trips with Mrs Putin - diplomatically undressing in Burberry's alongside the Russian president's wife - and more sobering experiences on foreign trips to Rwanda and Afghanistan.

Mrs Blair admitted she had strong views on intrusion by the press, even now she had published her own story.

"There's a difference between choosing to share this and the press intruding, " she said.

"It's really important that public figures are able to be in the limelight and still have part of their life which is private"

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