Martin Bright

Anyone Feel Sorry for Tessa Jowell?

Text settings

I have already been teased by the readers of this blog for suggesting that it was possible to feel sympathy for Tessa Jowell and her family over the conviction of her solicitor husband David Mills.

Now you have the chance to read my thoughts on the Olympics minister at more length in today's Observer, where I have written a profile of Jowell. 

It is easy to understand why the traditional left despises Jowell. For them she is the very essence of the business-worshipping Blairite. Jowell herself would not be entirely unhappy about this. As said told me in an interview in 2006: "Just as we should be proud of our relationship with the trade unions, so, too, we should be proud that, after years of ideological opposition to the means of wealth creation in this country, New Labour has a relationship with business."

What I have never quite understood, however, is why the right hates Jowell so much. Why, for instance, has the Daily Mail taken so much trouble to establish whether Jowell has been spending time with her estranged husband? Of course it is possible that she cynically dumped her husband to save her ministerial career, but it is also possible that she was genuinely angry with him.

What really struck me as I talked to people about Jowell for the Observer profile, is that people who have worked with her really like her -- even ideological opponents such as Peter Hain. I know readers of The Spectator may find this hard to believe but she's a very popular politician.