Welcome back, the Wives of Westminster.
It’s been a long summer. And Fall. One I’ve mostly spent cruising between Washington D.C. and New York City. I’ve escaped London and our daily political drama, yet to find another one in Washington D.C. American politics is nothing short of the Hunger Games and it’s jumping out of CNN and FOX cable news. Twitter, too. I’ve never seen so many journalists hanging out on a Twitter feed like those in the White House Press Corps.
As I’ve immersed myself in D.C. culture, I’ve noticed how American daily life for a political wife or any other wife for that matter very much depends on the car. Unless you are in NYC and in Manhattan, you have to have a car even for something as simple as grocery shopping.
Washington D.C. is slow, monumental and with Donald Trump in the office, a pretty toxic place to be these days. I had a fairly unpleasant experience during my visit to the White House, but even in restaurants and coffee shops, you can overhear people talking in a frenzy about the election 2020.
An Outlet for Sharing
I took a break from writing, mostly because I wanted to focus on my son, take some distance from public life and reflect on a period that’s behind me. We are now in the middle of the General Election here in the UK and it feels like a perpetual roller coaster.
I am trying to balance out my parenting duties with a return to the opera stage in the role of Mimi in La Boheme, after a maternal leave while my husband is busy on the election campaign.
Six months ago, I started TWOW, an outlet for all things related to the political wives of Westminster. My editorial endeavor has started a conversation over what the role of a modern political wife is. The media characterized it as “revolutionary”. Some female MPs, TWOW sent into a tailspin, mostly because they falsely believe that the fight for feminism and equality ended with them assuming office.
TWOW changed that conversation as until that moment, the political wives did not have a platform. We did not have a public outlet to express and share the highs and lows of our lives.
We all have to be our best advocates
Reporters rushed to ask me what advice I had for Carrie Symonds. I was even asked to go on a morning show to debate whether or not she should move into No.10. Whatever the opinions, there will always be an interest in political wives and partners. And we will always, at least initially, be seen and analyzed through the political lenses before anything else.
I am very outspoken and I believe that we all have to be our best advocates. I love my role, and I try to empower others in our community to open up and share their experiences. The hardest part is to open up, as a political life often assumes ruthless political battles where the family, unfortunately, is not always off-limits. That is why, I believe, wives and partners often choose to stay behind the scenes. As I said to Katy Balls in my interview for YOU Magazine, our role does not come with sympathy. When you marry a politician, you gain all his enemies.
However, one thing is certain. We all lead unique lives and get to experience political developments in places where the cameras can’t follow. Speaking on my part, this political life of mine offers valuable lessons that I am hoping to share with the world.
This just in: The Wife of Westminster spotted landing on Heathrow. She’s back.
I was interested to read the article in you magazine, as I used to be a political wife. No-one really understands what it’s like. They all think we live in the lap of luxury and share all our husband’s views. I was once verbally attacked by another MP over how my husband voted!
It was with mixed feelings when we left in 2005, (nothing to do with expenses, I hasten to add). However the toxic legacy of the scandal made life difficult for all ex MPs.
I worked for my husband, it was allowed in those days, in the basement office an open plan mixed party office – could get nasty at times.
I will read your blog with interest, although I think it is quite different there now. Good luck to you all.
PS glad Lindsay got speaker, nice man.