Conversative wives. They're not usually noted for their style, glamour or yummy mummy appeal. But it's fair to say that in Samantha Cameron we now finally have a politician's wife who the media – from the weeklies to the glossies – can't get enough of .
She's the hard- working mum, the darling of the fashion pages, and now, the odds on favourite to scoop the Mum of the Year Award (an accolade previously bestowed upon Kerry Katona and Katie Price).
But has Samantha Cameron really won over the Great British public in a way that her conservative (small and big c) predecessors never quite managed to do – or are we all falling for a big PR stunt? Is Samantha Cameron really 'one of us'?
I canvassed opinion in a totally undemocratic survey of working mums, stay-at-home mums, and child-free working women. The results were divided – an early swing in SC's favour was lost when the thorny subject of 'the aristocracy' raised its head, whilst a fist fight nearly ensued when a colleague sniffily claimed that the tragic death of Samantha's son Ivan, and then the birth of new baby Florence had done her 'no harm whatsoever in the popularity stakes'. Ouch.
'I like her because she's just a normal, working mum,' journalist and mum Natalie told me. 'Surely no one can deny she is a good role model?'
'No way,' said our colleague Lucy, 'She is simply posh. Far too posh for me - as are most politicians and their wives. And there's no way I'd ever consider her a 'working mum' - just in the same way I don't think any celebs really count as working parents.'
Hmm. Was anyone buying into the 'juggling everything, working mother' story?
'I do, ' said mum of two Lynda, 'And what's more, I really admire her for it.'
'Me too' agreed Elaine, who is child-free and runs her own business from home, 'Simply because she can – and does - juggle a career, a young family and not hide behind her husband's job. Plus she's much easier on the eye than the Labour wives...'
So is the key to her popularity all down to cute kids, an enviable career, good looks and a designer wardrobe? Thinking back to the mid-nineties, could some advisor have put Norma Major in an Issa dress and a pair of sky scraper heels and achieved the same effect?
No, seems to be the universal opinion.
'It really is just something about her,' says Karen, 35, and mum to three children, 'I have tried really hard not to be interested or follow stories on her, but it's difficult not to! She's always well turned out, always looks in control, and is almost the poster girl for having it all. You can either totally resent her for it or admire her. And she's not quite sexy enough or beautiful enough to warrant actual resentment...'
bsolutely comes across as a bright, capable, working mum,' says mum-of-two Maja, 'She's stylish and attractive. Having said that, I haven't yet seen or read anything that makes me feel any sort of connection with her though, not in the way that I feel I get Sarah Brown, and like her warmth and her campaigning. Sam seems cooler.'
'She has grace,' says Heather, mum to twin boys, 'She seems very dignified but not in a detached way - I guess that's her posh background though.'
Ah yes. Her background. Samantha's father is a descendant of Charles II whilst her mother is now Vicountess Astor, having remarried. Sam grew up on the 300-acre Normanby Hall estate in Lincolnshire and her family also owned a country house in Yorkshire, Sutton Park. She was privately educated in Oxfordshire before taking her A levels at Marlborough and her degree in Fine Art at Bristol Polytechnic. Not exactly the kind of background that was ever going to find her fitting in part time checkout work in Asda around childcare or queuing at 4am for bargains in the Next end-of-season sale. She was, quite simply, always destined to be a Nice Gel.
Is it all just smoke and mirrors then? Is Sam Cam really any different to any other posh totty who can afford to have it all? Is her appeal really the fact she is nothing like us at all? Or is it because she is completely non-threatening? The kind of attractive, but not devastatingly beautiful woman who you want to be friends with, whose lifestyle you envy, but who you don't feel inferior to in the least?
'I think that is entirely it,' says Jenny, a mum running her own business and, like Sam, with two school age children and a new baby, 'Putting the wealth and background thing aside, she is the perfect role model – young, glamorous without being overtly sexy. She seems accessible. Someone you can aspire to be like. And even though at the end of the day she is somehow related to the Royal family and her husband is the Prime Minister that was no buffer to having and then losing a disabled child. I doubt she ever thinks she has it all. I hope she wins the Mum of the Year award. She deserves it. She's a positive role model, for sure.'
Do you agree? What do you think of Samantha Cameron? Spoiled little rich girl or hard working yummy mummy?