One thing can be said for sure about Cherie Booth-Blair’s memoirs – they haven’t lacked publicity! Like countless others, I’ve skim read the serialised snippets and the sound bites emanating from the press, together with dozens of unflattering reviews. I did much the same for John Prescott until he disclosed he was suffering from bulimia, at which I collapsed with laughter and read no more. As far as I was concerned, the adipose scribe from yesteryear lost all credibility. Still, as Oscar Wilde once famously quipped: “There’s only one thing worse than bad publicity, and that’s no publicity!”
Was it ever thus for the aspiring author! That said, as an aspiring author myself of Toby Potts in the Temple of Gloom, now available from Amazon worldwide, I envy BB her media exposure, and there are lessons to be learned. But I’m not plugging her book or mine. Instead, I address the question raised by at least two judges, namely BB’s fitness for high office, and in particular, her ambition to become a judge.
The argument against such an elevation follows a well trodden path. It’s not just BB’s tacky disclosures of shenanigans in the corridors of power, drunken lords a-leaping and high jinks on the top deck of the Number 274 bus, it’s more to do with her lack of judgment when it came to shady property deals and her choice of friends.
Let me make it clear that I have never knowingly met BB in either of her public persona, a disappointment felt keenly by her no doubt. But here lies her dilemma! Over the past ten years, she’s tried to run with the hare and the hounds, with varying degrees of success and failure. One minute she’s the wife of the Prime Minister, rubbing shoulders with the great and the good, and the next minute she’s Cherie Booth QC, advocate extraordinaire and aspiring judge. When she rises to her feet in court, I wonder how many judges and fellow advocates and clients say: “There’s Ms. Booth QC, the eminent barrister”, as opposed to those who say: “There’s Cherie Blair, the wife of the Prime Minister.”
In these days of equal opportunity, it may sound curmudgeonly to criticise her decision to continue in practice as a barrister once her husband had been appointed Prime Minister, but BB must have known that her decision carried with it a number of risks, and besides, her husband was not exactly the shrinking violet. She was under the media spotlight from the word GO, and anything and everything she said and did would be under intense scrutiny. In my opinion, if she took advice, she was ill advised to carry on, and must now live with the consequences.
As to BB’s fitness to sit permanently in the seat of judgment, I feel the jury are still out, and for good reason. Some minion from the Ministry of Justice will get around to it in the fullness of time, there’ll be the usual unctuous wringing of hands, forms to be completed and check boxes ticked, and then the interview. I went through all that many years ago, and sad to relate, I was turned down as being intemperate. What!! Me!! I thought that was an essential prerequisite, but apparently not. But enough of me, back to BB. The profession does itself no service by criticising from within, knowing such criticism would attract maximum publicity. It demeans her critics more than it demeans her. I was always taught never to publicly criticise my colleagues at the Bar or on the Bench, though there were times when I was sorely tempted. It’s something to do with glass houses.