I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote ‘behind every great man is a great woman’. It’s often thrown about by celebrities to honour their beloved wives or girlfriends. So, as I opened my magazine and was yet again greeted by the infamous quote, it got me thinking about the women behind some of the most influential politicians seen this year; the Wives And Girlfriends or as their known in the footballer and pop star world - WAGs.
I thought I’d take a break from the more traditional politics issues. After all with 2013 just around the corner, everyone is starting to sit back and think all about the highlights or lowlights of the year we are about to leave, and as I enter my 5th year being involved in politics, it only seemed appropriate that I dedicate this article to finding my personal 2012 Political WAG Of The Year - a woman who has brought politics into the limelight and has got the nation interested. So here, after much deliberation, some serious Google stalking, a definite case of style envy and a tube of Pringles later; here are my top three women who helped change the face of politics this year:
In third place we have the lovely Spanish wife of Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Party Leader Nick Clegg, Miriam Clegg. My internet research dubbed her ‘an expert on European Union Law’ and a ‘no-nonsense woman’ whilst also being classically known in the fashion world for elegantly feminine dresses and neat separates. In comparison to the other top ladies of fashion and politics she has been the only one brave enough to publicly declare that, while she is willing to help her husband, she can’t take time off from her work and family life to take part in his campaigns. This was especially evident during the 2010 elections when, as “Sam Cam” and Sarah Brown (wife of then Labour Leader Gordon Brown) took the centre stage with their husbands, Miriam continued to work and quietly go about her own business. David Hellqvist of ‘Fashion in Politics’ was quoted as saying “Miriam has shown that it’s not always best to be everywhere and wearing the loudest colours”. This approach to the political lifestyle has won her many points in the eyes of the media and the public, showing that women aren’t defined by marriage or by who they happen to date.
Gliding into second place is the well-known Samantha Cameron or “SamCam” as many know her. She is of course the wife of Conservative Leader and Prime Minister David Cameron. Dubbed one of the most fashionable UK political WAGs, she was appointed as a British Fashion Council Ambassador and even helped open London Fashion Week 2011 alongside Harold Tilman. Well known in the fashion world for looking elegant and demure, but with a keen eye for prints and colours, ELLE UK magazine stated that she even went head to head with America’s very own Michelle Obama for the title of ‘the first lady of fashion’. Having run the handbag brand Smythson for years, it’s no surprise that she has such an insight into the world of fashion and is leading the way to link fashion and politics. After all, the UK is the birth place of many incredible designers and who better to show this to the world than the leaders (and wives) of our country themselves?
Of course when discussing the top WAGs of politicians we can’t forget Sally Bercow, the wife of the current Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow. Storming in at first place in my top three, she is as many people know a complete contrast to Miriam Clegg and isn’t one to shy away from controversy. She is well known for her appearance on Celebrity Big Brother 2011 and then in shows such as “When Paddy Met Sally” and “Paddy and Sally’s Excellent Gypsy Adventure“, which saw her on countless adventures with her fellow Big Brother housemate Paddy Doherty. She has often been one to say exactly what she thinks and to stand up for herself and for others. She is definitely NOT one of politics quieter WAGs but whilst her stories have been points of amusement and controversy for many, she has also dragged certain political issues and opinions kicking and screaming into the limelight to be discussed and debated - and of course, her bravery in taking exactly the path that she feels is right is remarkable.
So while she may not be everyone’s cup of tea, you must admit that this year Sally has become a household name. So she might not be paving the way for political fashion like our “Sam Cam” (although her nickname is super addictive) or standing her ground on behalf of independent working family women like Miriam, she has certainly made Britain sit up and take notice. You might not like her, you might love her, but either way you will have heard of her and her opinions - and no doubt you’ve got your own opinion on her. She has thrust politics into the limelight in a way that none of the others have and whether that’s a good thing or not is personal opinion but at least more people are aware of it.
No doubt many will disagree with me and of course that is your right (as Sally would, I’m sure, agree). I’m not condoning all of her actions; I’m just giving credit where credit is due to a lady who has got the nation talking. Sure, you might not agree with everything she does, but hey - this wouldn’t be British Politics if we all agreed on something, now would it?
By Jilly McKiernan