To judge by the reaction of some sections of the media and other members of the professionally offended this week, you'd think Cherie Blair had been cluster-bombing children and undermining human rights like her husband. If only the Prime Minister's actions over the years had been scrutinised and judged with the level of vitriol that his wife's have, he'd have been chased from Downing Street years ago.
So what had she done to have us, yet again, clutching our scented hankies to our faces and reaching for the smelling salts? She signed a copy of the Hutton Report which was later auctioned in a Labour Party fundraiser. Tasteless to be sure but at least some good came of the suicide of government scientist, Dr David Kelly: Labour Party coffers were swelled by a princely 400 quid.
But why the shock and surprise? It's like that story of the fox and the scorpion trying to cross the river. Despite his misgivings, the fox gives the scorpion a ride. The scorpion stings the fox halfway across and they both drown. ('It's in my nature,' explains the scorpion as they're dragged into the watery depths.) In this instance, those once again giving Cherie both barrels are the fox. They know from long experience that Cherie is an insatiable freebooter with a brass neck to make 'The Da Vinci Code' movie's marketing team whistle with envy. And yet, when they give in and give her another piggy back across the river they're scandalised all over again that she's going through their pockets looking for gifts and whining about the lack of free drinks. 'Greedy, dignity-free fool demonstrates greed, lack of dignity and foolishness' is a bit 'Sun came up this morning' as headlines go.
The proper emotion to express towards the Blairs (at least on a social footing, politically speaking Tony's a demon with the morals of, well, 'The Da Vinci Code' movie's marketing team) is not hatred but a pitying disgust.
They're the worst kind of people who just can't help themselves. It's true that Cherie Blair had a hard upbringing in grinding poverty which some say explains why she does things like charge £24,000 for a 20-minute lecture in Dubai. There's no such thing as the dignity of being poor but for a lot of people on their uppers there's a difference between being poor and looking poor. Even though Cherie's no longer the former, she's still the latter. The fact that Cherie is still behaving like this despite twelve years of media manure being hurled at her just shows she's incapable of achieving even basic standards of social skills and taste. It's almost like some kind of social Tourette's Syndrome.
From his winter tans and teased no-I'm-not-going-bald bouffanted widow's peak to her unfailing ability never to miss an opportunity to line her pockets or have something for free, if they were your friends you'd stop returning their phone calls. You wouldn't have them round for dinner in a million years let alone pulling the country's levers of power. They're like the parents of that lonely kid at the local primary school who never gets invited to birthday parties because the other parents won't have them in the house.
And as they say, it's the kids you have to feel sorry for. Look at the Blair's eldest son, Euan. No, really, look at him.
He looks like Ruth Kelly auditioning for the Gwyneth Paltrow part in 'Shakespeare In Love'. You have to be particularly famous to get away with that kind of expensive hairstyle that looks like your girlfriend highlighted it. And clothes that make you look like you got dressed in the dark don't come cheap. Young Euan's love for lapdancing clubs and setting fire to tables in nightclubs show a respect for women and property that must make his parents swell with pride. If he turned up at your door to take out your daughter you'd ask him to hang about while you went and bought a large dog with which to lengthen his stride off your property.
So news that Euan has been awarded a fully-paid scholarship at US Ivy League university Yale shouldn't be met with the usual knee-jerk bloody-Blairs anger but with a resigned pity (and at least being at Yale keeps him away from you/your daughter/your furniture). Like on the occasion he was asked to present a BAFTA award, you can be assured that he isn't there because of his talents (which, it has to be noted, he has yet to display). He's there so people can boast about having the Prime Minister's son on the books. He's an exhibit in a zoo. It's been the same for years. It's said that Mark Thatcher only made his money because of who his mum was. George Bush Jnr would still be picking his nose in some bar if his dad hadn't been leader of the free world.
Let's face it, who the hell would change places with Euan Blair? Envious pyromaniacs who have to go to strip clubs in order to meet women may have their hands in the air but when you consider the unfortunate sod's life, the deal pales somewhat. His social life, where and how he lives is dictated by the popularity of his dad. Somebody knows where he is every minute of every day. He can't go for a whiz without a burly, tooled-up Special Branch officer coming to help out.
Still, this is the logical conclusion of Blair Snr's 'meritocratic' society. As has been pointed out before, the drawback to a meritocracy is that, within a generation, it becomes an aristocracy. Those who have done well under the power of their own talents pass on the spoils to their offspring who coast through life without having to rely on their own. A new generation of talentless, strutting, want-for-nothing princelings is born. Better build some more titty bars.