David Cameron recently allowed BBC TV‘s Andrew Marr to interview him in his home, leading to newspaper features such as: Get Cameron’s kitchen look and How to collect a library fit for a high profile political TV interview. We are naturally nosy, so when a well-known MP lets us have even a small glimpse into their private home (albeit a styled, cleaner version of their real day-to-day household), we’re intrigued.
But there’s a difference between an MP making their home visible voluntarily as part of a publicity campaign, and an MP’s privacy being invaded. The recent news about Members of Parliament making controversial expense claims has brought the shopping lists of our country’s leaders into the limelight and they’ve been scrutinised thoroughly. It seems MPs are spending money on their homes and nesting their way through the recession like the rest of us, but interiors industry ‘experts’ have muscled in already with cutting critiques of MPs’ taste.
An opinion article in The Guardian this morning mourns the fact that MP Jacqui Smith displays a lack of ‘taste in the interior decoration department’. According to the article, her ‘two huge TVs’ and ‘antique-style fireplace’ bring to mind ‘disconcerting images of The Royle Family‘, while her sofabed and dining-room-table combo smacks of ‘DFS half-price sale’ which, according to the writer, ‘is not a good look’. Smith’s only saving grace seems to be her ‘Habitat stone kitchen sink,’ which the critic almost approves of.
I can’t help feeling sorry for Jacqui Smith. If she’d spent money on expensive, designer pieces for her home and claimed them on expenses, she’d be criticised. If she buys cheaper furniture, she’s accused of lacking taste.
This obsession with MPs’ personal lifestyle choices is worrying. They’re politicians, not celebrities. Surely whether or not our Home Secretary chooses to sit on a Conran chair or a DFS sofa is up to her. Whether or not tax payers should be financing her furniture shopping is another issue altogether of course, but who is arrogant enough to presume to decide what is and what isn’t ‘good taste’? Shouldn’t we be concerned about Jacqui Smith’s policies and her ability to do her job, rather than wasting time and column inches over what kind of sofa she prefers and whether or not Mark Oaten has bought an oven glove? Let us know what you think. – Ellie
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