Sally Bercow on Big Brother…..does she, or any spouse, have a duty to their spouses job/role?

There is a thread on Mumsnet in the Feminism Section called ‘Sally Bercow on Big Brother…..does she, or any spouse, have a duty to their spouses job/role?’

The thread started by The Posie Parker raised the question:

“She’s going in BB, her husband is a public, very public, servant does she make his position and role more difficult?”

Are we all a little responsible to ‘behave’ when our partner’s employers/public may view us an extension of them?

[FYI Sally Bercow is the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. She was a housemate on Celebrity Big Brother and was evicted from the house on 26 August 2011.]

This was my response:

“We are all independent individuals who should be accountable for our choices and decisions. She has the freedom to do as she wants – she is not the speaker of the house or his servant – she is his partner.

I would say that though because I spend my life saying this to the military. I am not in the military. I am not bound by your rules – half the time I think they shaft people; but let’s not get into that. Although military/Govt – it’s not much different really. It’s all horsesh*t – while she’s on BB who is to say he’s not tied up in some dungeon in Westminster being administered the cane by Madam Whiplash (nb; this is a joke – I am sure he’s tucked up with his Horlicks keeping his vocals good to call ‘order, order’).”

John Bercow has publicly stated that his wife ‘is not my chattel’.

I had an interesting ‘off the record’ conversation with ‘a friend’ and it was stated to me; ‘like it or not while you are still married to [HUSBAND] your actions will affect his career.’

Therefore, in order for me to do what I want and to liberate Hagar it looks like we will be getting a divorce then. Is that a bit drastic? I guess the time has come to tell you that Hagar and I are in fact separated.

Big Brother is watching the blog and I have been ‘unofficially’ warned to be careful. Hagar has been ‘unofficially’ bound and gagged. The Godfather is not happy. My husband has been taken prisoner by the military and the ransom is £100,000 which we don’t have.

I asked Hagar what he thought of this turn of events and he said; ‘no comment.’

I have spent 13 years embedded in the military and I have met many people and had many ‘off the record’ conversations in the bar, in the street, in the Mess, at dinner parties and social occasions that don’t make easy hearing. If you have met me and you are in the military then you are my source. Maybe you can’t remember what you have said to me, or in my presence, but I remember what you have said to me. My husband isn’t my source; my life is my source and in addition, I work in circles that are connected to the military and people talk freely to me about things that I wish I didn’t know.

I am tired of the conflict in Afghanistan; and yet I am supporting it by keeping the home fires burning. I am supporting Hagar to enable him to deliver his role, even though I don’t support the conflict and the methods deployed to achieve effect. For the record – I don’t support any unlawful killing either. There is so much hypocrisy in the rationale for Afghanistan.

The reason for my fatigue is not to do with Hagar but came as a result of reading ‘War’ by Sebastian Junger which made me realise that men need war [click on the link for the blog post], watching the film “Restrepo” and then Tim Hetherington being killed in Libya. His death hit me very hard because I felt we were robbed of a great man, a great thinker and genuine independent liberal, who could make a difference.

I believe that war is a business created by men and I have changed my mind. Stop the bus! I want to get off – I fundamentally disagree with killing people.

I don’t want to support the war no more. Is freedom of speech my right? Anyway, the guy that looks like Mike Yarwood, that is the Station Commander at RAF Odiham, when I met him to discuss the blog, he promised me faithfully that the days where serving personnel where judged by their spouses actions were a thing of the past; so maybe I have got it wrong.

To Hagar, my husband, I am truly sorry that I have ruined your career in the military – especially if now after this post they will punish you but I hate being bullied and I won’t be blackmailed. But I agree with John Bercow; I am your partner not your chattel.

Hagar said; ‘no comment’.


  1. That’s a really interesting question and at first my reaction was ‘hell no’. But then I thought about it for a bit and realised that actually, we do have some responsibility to behave in a way that doesn’t limit our husband/partner’s career, if only because we love them and we have committed to building a life together. My feminist and vehemently independent viewpoint is that we shouldn’t be bound by our men’s expectations, or indeed be ‘the good wife’ instead of being the real person, but surely that has to be tempered? What about the time and effort and sacrifice Sally Bercow or any other wife/partner of a military/govt/top businessman has put into their man’s career? What about the time and effort the man they love has put into his career? I wonder if it’s not a matter of duty, but a matter of sensitivity and mutual respect.

    1. There is definitely not a black and white solution. I think the MOD have handled this situation completely wrongly. They feel out of control and they don’t know how have adult conversations with rational human beings and then deal with an answer which is not the one they want to hear. In their eyes Hagar has been a very silly boy and he needs to remember who he works for! Although, the MOD have confirmed there has been absolutely NO breach of OPSEC and the blog is completely within guidelines.

      They want me to stay behind the wire – in the wife-zone. To stick to baking and flower arranging. DO NOT STRAY into any talk of military operations!!

  2. Kahlil Gibran – On Marriage

    You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
    You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
    Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

    Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


    Hope all turns out well MM…

    1. Thanks Caratacus….I love the poem – it is beautiful. I am sure it will all be fine. Tomorrow is another day…

  3. I saw an interesting quote on The Korean War Memorial in DC recently. Freedom isn’t free. Of course they were likely referring to the lives lost, but I thought it was topical here also.

  4. The right to freedom of speech is an illusion and a lie. The people at the top do not want those under them to have differing opinions or to express them. They won’t give freedom of speech to anyone – certainly not dissenters. But that’s OK. Freedom of speech is a right that must be taken and exercised by the individual.

    Grab it and run with it.

    1. Thanks Steve – am sprinting down the road……you can’t catch me I am the Gingerbread Woman!

  5. I don’t think that anyone should be told how to behave by their partners employers, be them military, government or blumming Asda. However, I do feel that we have a moral obligation as spouses – both wives and husbands I’d like to add, not to publicly embarrass our other halves.

    I did think at first that Sally Bercow going into the BB house would embarrass her husband, but I thought she generally gave a decent account of herself. Let’s face it, how can parliament get uppity about her antics after George Galloway’s behaviour a few years back and Ann Widdecombe on Strictly. Not to mention all the shit they get up to in their spare time that usually ends up splatted across the tabloids.

    Sorry, to hear about your divorce, although it does sound like both you & Hagar are going about things very amicably.


  6. As a fellow military wife (and journalist), I know just exactly where you’re coming from. The number of times I’ve been sitting next to someone at a mess dinner and had to endure their opinionated ranting about scummy journalists/what jobs are actually suitable for wives/blah blah blah!
    Keep speaking out and I hope you and your husband can find yourselves in a place where it can all work out for you.

    1. Thanks very much. My heart goes out to you – I really understand where you are coming from. I think the MOD’s communication strategy is as archiac and draconian as their employment strategy. Long live military reform!!!

      I think you have been very restrained – but then it just spoils their fun – imagine if they had to be accountable for their actions! One high flying officer said to me ‘The problem is that we have educated the womenfolk so they are no longer happy to just do the housework any longer!!’ He is tipped to be a general!

  7. Did you see Sally Bercow’s comment in the Express: “The idea that any woman can bring down her husband is so 1950s”. I did try the Harry Enfield line “I’m sorry, I don’t know much about the army but I do like kittens” after one particularly fruitless discussion where the person I was speaking to did everything but pat me on the head. It went completely over his head and I sneaked off for another gin and tonic. I’m not sure popular culture was really his thing ; )

    1. Britain is still in the 1950s and I think ‘Make do and mend’ is making it worse. Women are our own worsed enemy. I think some women fear independence – The Cinderella Complex. Sounds like you have sat next to The Real Prince Charming – i.e a Knobhead – Prince Charming doesn’t exist! I am so cynical 🙂

      I suggested a political party on Mumsnet called The Women’s Party and was told that it would alienate 50% of the population – WTF! If you unite the other 50% then you would have a majority!

      1. I’m not sure I’d go for a women’s party to be honest – what about my husband and what about my sons? A Minister for Women, however, would be a grand idea! And a Minister for Military Wives even better ; ) Any volunteers?

        1. Your husband and son would be castrated and put in prison – silly!

          Women, I believe are capable of running a political party that represents the interests of both genders!!

  8. I didn’t think you were planning to have them strung up by their (whispers) boy bits?! I just meant how could I teach my boys that both sexes are equal when there would be something so divisive to be voted for. Imagine a Men’s Party and the reaction to it – although you could obviously argue that most are, even if not in name. I suggest again, a Minister for Women. Someone really stroppy and who doesn’t care what the establishment thinks of her!

    1. yes – your idea is more feasible. But I think a radical push like a Women’s Party would help redress the balance more quickly and get more women into politics. I could forsee having men in the Women’s party because it would still have to be able to govern holistically – ultimately we have the Red Men, Blue Men and Yellow Men, Green Men and Independent Men’s party which is hardly equal – although they all have a female admin staff!

    1. I have no idea what is a good wife – but I LOVE the TV show – The Good Wife. It is by far the best thing on TV at the moment! So plug away on my blog and send me any previews of the next season. I am a massive fan. xxx

  9. I realised long, long ago that Women are the true Masters of the Universe. My life has been immeasurably more peaceful ever since.

    I’m not one of your “new” namby-pamby, in touch with their feminine side (whatever the hell that is) half-men either. Large, bearded, former karate and kick-boxing teacher, and – for seven fun-filled years – a nightclub doorman. The MOD is filled with men who would faint at the first hint of fisticuffs, see women as a threat (because of their innate superiority) and probably share many and pretty secrets with chaps of a similar background. As with all bullies, their bluff should be called and their toes stamped on.

    1. Yes – am donning my clogs and about to dance on their squidgy feet!! Thanks though…the time has come….:)

  10. Good luck for this time, hun, it’ll all be fine in the end. I do wonder, though, what husbands of women in the military endure? What’s it like for them?

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