The Cabinet Minister’s Wife

The Cabinet Minister’s Wife


In honour of our new Poet Laureate

For those of you not familiar with Morus’ Saturday Slant, this is the time of the week where Mike allows me to weave an ill-formed political idea into a completely tangental form of prose with varying degrees of success. Previous victims have included such literary luminaries as Harold Pinter and Sir John Mortimer, so I thought it only fair to pen an homage to Carol Ann Duffy who was yesterday unveiled as our new Poet Laureate.

For those unaware, Duffy is best known for her humourous, accessible anthology “The World’s Wife”, where she takes a slanted look at Great Men through the eyes of the women in their lives. My personal favourite is “Mrs Darwin”.

In that vein, I thought maybe it might be fun to begin a similar anthology, looking at the lives of members of the Cabinet through the eyes of their spouses. You may need the links to make sense of some of the references. Please feel free to submit your own entries in the comments section.

Richard Timney (aka Mr Jacqui Smith)

There’s not many of us left, since Dennis died,

male members of the

Political Wives’ Club.

We lurk in the shadows,

as supportive as the womenfolk

who make for a better backdrop.

The £40k in spenders comes in handy, no complaints

but there are sacrifices nonetheless.

Who wouldn’t rather live in a Grace-and-Favour,

exchanging Redditch for Belgravia?

You do your best, maintain the second-home front,

for a not-often-Home Secretary.

It’s hard to fill the time, but you manage,

between trips to John Lewis,

and writing some letters to the local papers.

There’s only one rule really, that Dennis set down –

“Stay out of the spotlight”.

I thought I had done better than most.

Jack Dromey, David Mills, Ed Balls –

all members of the club,

who couldn’t help but fly too close to the Sun.

And the Mirror. And the Mail.

Cash for Peerages, dodgy mortgages, the SATs debacle –

I did quite well at keeping my head down,

playing Laura Bush to their Hillary, Nancy and Barbera.

But it doesn’t take much

to bring the whole thing crashing down around you.

Once the press smell Raw Meat,

the dogs descend, and you stand not a chance.

I did my duty, took the heat,

and now must bear the shame.

What sticks in the throat,

the one thing I can’t forgive,

is that the cheap bathplug she chose

doesn’t even fit.

Louise Shackelton (aka Mrs David Miliband)

“She’ll marry a great man”, or so they said,

A thought they knew would fester.

And so Northwestern, the fiddle learnt,

then an MMus from Rochester.

What sort of gal would not be swooned

By a geeky lad from Britain?

Oxford, MIT, that cheeky smile,

This woman’s heart besmitten.

There was a past, of that I’m sure,

some foolish girls along the way,

But a Jewish Marxist Atheist

in embrace with Opus Dei?!

The absurdity, I can assure,

is still a source of fun.

“Would Bertrand Russell”, I’m inclined to ask,

“ever considered dating a nun?”

I rescued him from academic life,

I saved him, set him straight.

Whilst playing with the LSO,

I made him Secretary of State.

There’s always been a plan in place,

To let him kiss Her hands,

To furnish the flat at Number 10,

To hear the Horseguards’ bands

It was my fault to not make sure,

To leave him just that once,

To not control his every pose,

My charming photo dunce.

I am to blame, I realised,

rehearsing Carmina Burana.

This “great man”, my moulded dream,

Felled by a single banana.

Frankie van Heel (aka Mrs Andy Burnham)

It could have been very different, y’know?

If Cilla had waved a working wand,

Or we had been sent to, say,

Barbados, rather than Gibraltar.

Not a lorra laffs

with ‘Will from Surrey’

I spurned that Andy Pandy

and to this day can say I’ve

Never Kissed a Tory Boy.

(Never Will).

How ironic then, that ditching him for that awful garb

should land me with my other Andy,

a clothes-horse more outrageous, if discreet.

MA (Cantab) I can boast,

the college too: Fitzwilliam.

That’s where we met,

me and my Minister of Fun,

Though what fitzwilliam fitzandy not.

I could have died that awful day,

wearing my only garment still unworn.

A shortish dress, a floppy hat,

jacket chosen to match the brooch of sorts.

‘Not well received’, to say the least,

by the catty cow who ‘earns’ her wares from

the fash(ion)ist press.

I like to think that

“If only I could just explain…”

but of course I can’t.

Four inch van Heels and shoulderpads,

blouses, stockings, none are safe.

For all the jokes and sideways looks and scorn,

the irony remains:

Mascara’s the only thing of mine he’s never worn.


(Photo from

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