Watching brief - Amanda Platell advises Cherie to shower with Tony

My spin-doctor advice to Cherie: stop the "I'm no Supermum" speeches. To women who raise families on

Cherie Blair is having as much trouble finding a new spin-doctor as Prince Charles is, and it's a toss-up who needs one more. As an ex-adviser, I am happy to offer sisterly advice.

1) Try taking showers with your husband and not mudbaths with Carole Caplin.

2) Shut your mouth - literally and figuratively. That insincere smile swathed in red lipstick makes you look like a clown. That's John Prescott's job.

3) Stop lecturing us on human rights. You didn't seem too concerned about our troops' rights when you hit the phones and harangued female MPs to back Tony's war.

4) Start paying for your holidays. With a family salary of half a million pounds, you can afford it.

5) Experiment with paying for your own clothes. The world doesn't owe you a wardrobe.

6) Dump your £1,000-a-day Bond Street personal stylist. Carole looks like an Essex hairdresser, so get her to do it.

7) Don't play privacy ping-pong with your kids. Two prime ministerial families before you have proved it is possible to keep them out of the limelight.

8) Try to look like you're enjoying yourself. After all, the houses, the servants - it's one of the most privileged positions in this country. OK, so there's a problem with the weight, but you can't have world peace and thin thighs.

9) Spare us the "I'm no Supermum" speeches. For women out there raising a family on less than you pay Carole to rub mud into your butt, it's obvious who the real superwomen are.

10) Get photographed as often as possible with Mrs Putin.

Oh, and hold on to Fiona Millar - she's the only link you lot have left with your Labour roots.

National newspaper sales fell by 300,000 in June 2003 compared to June 2002, with broadsheets' sales accounting for two-thirds of that fall. And all this at a time when much money has been invested to improve their products, most noticeably the £3m relaunch of the Financial Times (sales down 3.28 per cent) and that of the Daily Telegraph (down 5.2 per cent). Annoyingly for the proprietors, with bottom lines hit hard by the advertising recession, they are spending to stand still. Sadly for the staff, the figures herald another year of austerity in journalism, with the kind of cost-cutting that inevitably brings job losses.

The FT's make-over has been an improvement, the Times is increasingly confident in its highbrow, low-frills approach, the Guardian is rock solid and the Independent innovative in a way that only a paper on a shoestring ever is. The Telegraph relaunch has been a great success - sexy but not sexed-up. In fact, the broadsheets have seldom delivered finer products with greater diversity. They deserve better results than these.

Watching Alex Best when husband George came home, with her bottom hanging out of a pair of minuscule shorts, performing for the assembled photographers, you had to wonder who is the greatest addict. This woman speaks to the press as often as most of us speak to our mums. She is as addicted to the limelight as he is to the booze. If he's an alcoholic, she's a mediaholic.

And just when you had forgotten all about Charles Spencer, up pops his naked ex-wife, Victoria, clutching her new baby to her bosom on the cover of Hello!. The former anorexic, alcoholic and heroin addict is flogging her story for a quick fix of publicity and cash. She says this is her "recovery baby". God help him.

I have long believed the Culture section of the Sunday Times to be the superior TV listings magazine. Until recently, that is, when its The One to Watch slot for the week ahead and the following week's Critic's Choice was Fortysomething. Only about one person watched as this sad little satire was dumped by ITV from its Sunday-night slot after two episodes. No surprise why it bombed. If women wanted to hear a morose, middle-aged man whingeing on about how little sex he's getting, they could always just listen to their partner.

Peter Stothard's book 30 Days: a month at the heart of Blair's war has received mixed reviews. Kamal Ahmed in the Observer judged that "there is nothing to be said for writing lots of words when you haven't got much to say". Craig Brown in the Mail on Sunday said the author "proved himself the master of the untelling detail". But the cruellest comments came from Michael Portillo. So simpatico were Stothard and Portillo once, that one chose to come out in the other's paper. Now Portillo observes that Stothard's book reveals "more about his [Blair's] clothes than his thoughts", that the author is "obsessed" with baby Leo (not a central character in the war, it has to be said), and all this at the expense of the big picture, which the author fails to see.

As many Tories have discovered to their cost, with friends like Portillo . . .

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