Douglas Murray on Whether Britain Needs a ‘First Girlfriend’

In the video below, Douglas Murray, associate editor of The Spectator, and Kate Andrews discuss the consequences of introducing the American tradition of a ‘first spouse’ into the British political realm.

The question is first posed to Douglas Murray about his thoughts on the American tradition and if he thinks this is an inevitable scenario that should consequently by formally recognized.

His initial response is that it ‘is not a very good arrangement in America.’ He argues that it partially disregards democratic values, as the first spouse is not an elected official.

The first spouse(and by extension, the first family, i.e. children) is not elected by the voting population and is merely a ‘plus one’ to the President. He backs up his argument by stating the inappropriate nature of an un-elected official being thrust into a position that is able to propose legislation, such as in the nineties when Hillary Clinton created ‘exceptionally uncomfortable moment[s]’ with ‘Hillary Care’.

Douglas Murray argues that traditionally, spouses in the United Kingdom have actively sought to demonstrate their lack of influence in the affairs of the sitting Prime Minister. Douglas Murray firmly believes that it ‘is very desirable for our country that that remains the case.’  

The question is then posed to Kate Andrews whether America would be better off following the example set in Britain, and not visa versa. Kate opens by stating that Douglas Murray is ‘completely right to point to the tension that the role has created historically in the United States.’

Kate argues that it is perhaps time that the role become more formalized and be given greater influence over and above a purely supportive role. She argues that in recent times in America, the first lady’s initiatives have largely been rooted in politics, but have fed into the Presidents overall agenda.

Kate argues further that if the role were to be more formal, there would be greater accountability for the decisions and resulting actions that would follow. To which Douglas Murray questions how a more formal role with a greater spend and larger office would create greater accountability.

Kate responds by stating that the agenda would no longer be behind the scenes and would be in the public domain. ‘What her job would supposed be would be on the record and then, if she were doing things that weren’t in her remit in that position, I think it would be much more easily scrutinized and we’d be able to call it out much faster.’

Watch the video below to see Douglas Murray and Kate Andrews give their closing remarks on the subject:

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