Inside the 'Wives of Westminster' blog

‘The Wives of Westminster’

The Wives of Westminster homepage

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A new website set up to share the experiences of the wives of UK politicians has been widely criticised for being "sexist".

According to its 'About' page, thewivesofwestminster.com is "a digital home to all fashionable, sophisticated women with brains, hearts, and style".

Here is all you need to know about the website that claims to be answering the question: “What is it to be a politician’s wife in modern day Britain?”.

 

Who set it up?

Nevena Bridgen with husband Andrew. Image: Nevena Bridgen/Twitter

 

The website was created in April by Nevena Bridgen, the wife of the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.

In the welcoming message put up on the website, the Serbian opera singer said it was set up to “discuss the challenges and topics we are all experiencing as women, wives, mothers and working women of Britain”.

She added: “The Wives of Westminster take a kind-spirited, open-minded, feel-good, nourishing inside and out, purpose-centric approach to a meaningful life.

“Our themes revolve around the lifestyle of the Wives of Westminster: women empowerment, modern family, careers, wellness, purpose, kid-friendly lifestyle.”

 

Is it a political platform or a lifestyle blog?

The website is broken up into four sections called 'Empowerment', 'Purpose', 'Modern Living' and 'Oh My God' – the latter of which has been dedicated to fashion.

Within the 'Oh My God' section, there is a strong emphasis on luxury lifestyle with one article including a blazer costing £3,310 and a Gucci handbag.

However the website has also includes lifestyle content, with articles including 'Wives Of Politicians Are More Than Just Pretty Accessories', 'How I Took My Baby to PM Theresa May's Annual Reception At No 10', and interviews with other political spouses.

In one of the pieces, Ms Bridgen shared her experience of being ignored at “dinner tables or cocktail receptions”.

She wrote: “My first shocking experience of the “be quiet” role that the wife should have, happened when a respected senior politician that I’ve held in high regard, told me to “shush“ over expressing my opinion about the free movement after Brexit.”

 

Why has it been criticised?

On Monday, The Wives of Westminster published an interview with Felicity Cornelius-Mercer, who is married to Conservative MP Johnny Mercer. The piece attracted criticism after Ms Mercer said she was not a feminist.

“I do not believe that being female puts me at a disadvantage. If anything, I have celebrated the choices that it has afforded me and celebrated the fundamentals of being female,” she wrote.

Ms Mercer added that gender equality was about ensuring “that our society is set up that women have the same opportunities as men” and that she does not believe in all-women shortlists.

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who wrote a book titled ‘Women of Westminster’, said the website should have been “celebrating” women in politics, not women as “wives”.

Ms Bridgen responded: “Sad day for the Labour Party when their MPs criticise women for discussing issues such as gender equality and the provision of baby changing facilities for fathers.

“Perhaps the socialists think they own these topics, I can assure them that they don’t.”

And Steve Ladner, the husband of Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, described The Wives of Westminster site as “sexist”.

Mr Ladner said the website was “backward thinking nonsense” and that there were even "some women MPs these days".

However, others have welcomed the website.

"Wives of Westminster should be a tv show!" wrote Twitter user @willetasnotes.