I put up a post last night called Up yours, Ms Flint, in which I puzzled over a photograph of former Health Minister Caroline Flint which appeared in the Times last week.
The photograph was deeply unflattering. I could not understand to how a woman whose only asset is her looks, and whose PR is generally slick if unsubtle, could have allowed herself to appear looking like Dracula’s elder sister just after coming second in a Ukrainian tractor-driving contest.
I think I may have under-estimated her. Flint was Tony Blair’s most ardent supporter. Blair likes glamour and superficial things and Flint had both, as well as dog-like devotion. He rewarded her with a post well above her abilities.
But Blair is dog-meat. How does a girl adapt to the rather different expectations of the grim soi-disant moralist Gordon Brown? Brown would not notice if Flint wore shoulder-pads and heels, overalls and boots, or nothing at all. He does not want glamour, but industry and plain unvarnished dedication, preferably backed with a tough upbringing or at least, not a privileged one.
Flint’s Times interview was a masterpiece of personal reinvention. She has never concealed the hardships of her youth, but she made the most of them in this last interview before the regime-change. The photograph was perhaps not, as I had surmised, a stroke of genius on the part of the photographer, but a careful ploy by Caroline Flint to ditch the glamour in favour of something more workaday.
I doubt that Gauleiter of the North was top of her list of ambitions, but at least she has a job in this Ministry of all the Nobodies.