Cherie Booth QC, the wife of Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, has begun enunciating a social and legal agenda which — while it may have the personal endorsement of her husband and the affluent left-wing circles in which she mixes — is profoundly unpopular among ordinary British voters.
How this may anguish the Prime Minister — who is congenitally poll-conscious — can only be guessed at, but it is discomfiting some Labour advisers, particularly pollsters, one of whom, Philip Gould, in a leaked memorandum recently warned that the Blair Government is widely perceived to be politically correct and no longer pro-family.
Mr Gould also revealed that Prime Minister Blair lacks “the inner core of strong convictions that would enable him to make a confident choice in a morally complex issue”.
Here the vacuum seems to be filled by his wife who, it is now clear from her public statements, holds rigidly to a politically correct reading of contemporary society.
Sunday Times columnist Melanie Phillips, had earlier pointed out the chasm which exists between Tony Blair’s views of what women want — affirmative action, more child care, etc — and what survey after survey shows they actually are seeking — a family wage and being able to care for their own children.
This was revealed most tellingly with Mr Blair’s stumbling performance before the Women’s Institute — where he was slow hand-clapped while explaining New Labour’s progressive policies on women and the family to a clearly sceptical audience.
The escapade simply confirmed that Mr Blair has been receiving advice from those wholly unrepresentative of ordinary Britons and made the fatal error of generalising from his own experiences.
Now Melanie Phillips has gone the next step and, from a review of some of Cherie Booth’s recent papers and speeches, identified what that Blair experience is.
Writing in The Spectator (July 29), Phillips discusses Booth’s performance at the American Bar Association’s London conference:
“What she was promoting was nothing other than the victim culture and its public manifestation: the politics of resentment.
“This entails measuring in the crudest possible way the achievements of self-designated victim groups against others, paying scant attention to significant differences in circumstances or behaviour, and representing any resulting variations in outcomes entirely as proof of prejudices by the oppressor class.
“In this view of the world, people are not agents of their own destiny but are merely forces to submit to outside and hostile forces, being rescued only by human-rights barristers on white chargers.”
Such a world view together with a high media profile may help explain why Ms Booth was hired by four Northern Territory legal services to argue the case against the mandatory sentencing before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva.
Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt wrote of the ironies (or hypocrisies) of Ms Booth’s involvement in the case (July 24).
Firstly, Britain has tougher mandatory sentencing laws for burglary than the Northern Territory. The young man at the centre of the case would have received a mandatory three years for his crime in the UK compared to one year in Darwin.
As to whether such laws are racist, Bolt argues that under mandatory sentencing, Aborigines are now under-represented in the Territory’s jail population compared to Victoria. It would be interesting to see a similar breakdown of British prison figures.
Secondly, Ms Booth would never be able to argue a similar case against the British Government … because her husband has refused to sign the protocol which would allow the United Nations HRC to hear complaints involving individual Britons.
Clearly there is discrimination and there is discrimination.