I heard a story this week that made me think about the extra costs and pressures that we pile on to our political families. I realise that the climate is not right to ask for sympathy for them, but have a think. There was an article in The Times during the G20 summit, applauding Sarah Brown for wearing a “£9,000 top”. Idly I wondered how she could afford to pay for that.
It turns out that she couldn't. She has no income of her own, having given up all paid work when her husband was Chancellor to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. She is not allowed to receive gifts, nor to borrow clothing, not even for a summit.
So to look the part for Britain, Mrs Brown has to rent these outfits, the ones that we all scrutinise so brutally, paying a tenth of their value (excluding shop mark-ups) each time. She paid hundreds of pounds of her own money to rent that top, and returned it afterwards.
OK, there are many women in a much poorer financial position. But it would be wrong to define all politicians and their partners as money-grubbing ne'er-do-wells.