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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

"My husband, my hero": selling the political spouses in the 2010 general election.

Smith, Angela and Higgins, Michael (2013) "My husband, my hero": selling the political spouses in the 2010 general election. Journal of Political Marketing, 12 (2-3). pp. 197-210. ISSN 1537-7857 print/ 1537-7865 online

Item Type: Article


In spite of a record number of female parliamentary candidates, the 2010 general election campaign became notable for the intensity of coverage given to the female spouses of the three main party leaders. We find that this resulted from a combination of party communication strategy, established media discourses, and the agency and visibility of the wives themselves. First, Labour and the
Conservatives were the most prominent in integrating their leaders’ wives into their campaigns, often to counter the less marketable qualities of the leaders themselves. Second, while mainstream media outlets—particularly newspapers—sought to cover all three women, they did so drawing upon established gender-based conventions,
focussing on the wives’ physical appearance and apparent
dedication to their husbands. Third, while the wife of the Liberal Democrat leader opted for limited and strategic contact with media, the wives of the Conservative and Labour leaders exploited a range of new media platforms, combining official party websites, personal blogs, and webcasts. We argue that any assessment of the role
of the spouses of party leaders has to look at media-driven priorities only alongside the various strategies open to parties and individuals in managing media activities. We also suggest that there is room to use the coverage of leaders’ spouses to explore the development, limits, and gender politics of any shift toward presidentialism.


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Depositing User: Angela Smith


Item ID: 3791
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ISSN: 1537-7857 print/ 1537-7865 online
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Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2013 14:17
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 15:35


Author: Angela Smith
Author: Michael Higgins

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications


Culture > English Language and Literature

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