Anorak News | Cherie Blair – Tightrope Walker, Juggler, Tony Blair’s Wife

Cherie Blair – Tightrope Walker, Juggler, Tony Blair’s Wife

by | 23rd, March 2007

housewife.jpg“A BABY is born. A child develops a high fever. The boiler breaks down. A parent suffers a stroke. These are the everyday events that throw a working woman’s delicate balance between work and family into chaos,” says Cherie Blair, wife to Tony Blair.

Cherie might be a consummate juggler but she’d drop some balls after a day like that.

The self-styled First Lady of British politics is addressing a London conference organised by the left-of-centre think-tank Demos.

The debate it on the family and the future role of carers. It’s the kind of debate attended by people who aren’t due to give birth, have no need to wait in for a plumber to arrive to fix the knackered boiler and whose parents do not need wheeling into the middle of the road or casualty. Or else they’ve come along to look busy and leave someone else to do the real work?

Cherie is there. Leo Blair, her youngest is not. Perhaps he is at home with his dad. Mum is responsible for “buying children’s presents and clothes, making sure the fridge was stocked or writing Christmas cards”, says Cherie. But dad can make an effort.

As Cherie says: “The Government has begun to talk about the importance of men’s role as active fathers, not just as breadwinners. It has introduced supportive legislation such as two weeks’ statutory paternity leave. But society will need to do more in the future to help them.”

Nodding so hard we almost nod off, we jolt ourselves into action and realise that Cherie earns more than Tony. Perhaps he should give up his job and stay in more to look after the nippers?

“I am always quite astonished when I read surveys about how many hours of housework men are supposed to do, because in my experience they don’t do any at all,” says she.

Can it be than when Tony’s finished sweating into his shirt, he fails to wash the thing, let alone iron it? Does his mug of tea end up left on the side, leaving a circular mark on the Cabinet table? Does Tony put so little store in being the modern man? Crikey, were Tony’s women elevated to prominence in 1997 to make him look good, literally?

Perhaps more value should be attributed to the home carer? Says Cherie: “We need to find ways to make the invisible visible, to uncover and celebrate the value of unpaid work.”

We need to celebrate drudgery and housewifery, says Cherie. Unpaid work is unpaid because either no-one would pay anyone to do it or else people do it for reasons other than money. This is why Mothers’ Day was invented.

But if mum was paid? The US Bureau of Labour Statistics estimated the value of woman’s work at about £63,000 10 years ago. Of course, allowances must be made for bed, board and use of tools. But it’s a decent sum even if halved. Perhaps they should be paid. And taxed.

Cherie says women walk a “tightrope” (how she loves those circus skills) and though mum is the “primary parent”, she is trapped beneath a “glass ceiling” of chores and dependents.

But what can be done to make it better? “Due to the stubborn pay gap, inflexible working patterns and an entrenched working culture, men will end up remaining in the workplace rather than sharing caring responsibilities at home,” says Cherie.

Inequality is the enemy. It must be overcome. And with mum too knackered to care, and dad stuck in a dead end service industry job and , it’s left to Cherie to lead on.

So will you follow? Or are you waiting in for the plumber and the ambulance? And have you seen the traffic?…

Posted: 23rd, March 2007 | In: Uncategorized Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink