top secret

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez is cooking paella with her husband. Samantha Cameron is chatting to the Prime Minister over breakfast, then campaigning in Rochester and Strood. Justine Thornton is hanging out with Ed Miliband in one of their kitchens, or chatting to the Mirror about how she fell for the future Labour leader.

But where is Kirsten Farage, the wife of the leader of the insurgent party which is in all the headlines?

She is nowhere to be seen, despite the huge role she has undoubtedly played in Farage’s rise to prominence. Like Mrs Elizabeth Mainwaring, who never made it onto screen in Dad’s Army, she is evidently present but never visible. Even Pru Forrest eventually got a line on The Archers, albeit after many years of silence.

The same could be said, for that matter, of Jim Jepps, the partner of Natalie Bennett. In modern politics, where every angle is worked and every asset deployed (sometimes ad nauseam), it’s more surprising not to hear from leaders’ other halves than it is to see them on stage, on camera and in print.

In theory, this is a missed opportunity on the part of UKIP and the Greens. Conventional PR wisdom tells that leaders need to be humanised, fleshed out through information about their personal lives and illustrated by footage of their implausibly tidy kitchens. But theory and practice are different things – 71 per cent of voters apparently don’t want to learn about politicians’ family lives, compared to a mere quarter who do say it plays a part in their decision.

This rejection of what is supposed to be a reputation-boosting trend shouldn’t be a surprise, really. After years of Blair and the rise of the never-ending media barrage, the British electorate is the most savvy in the world, able to spot a PR stunt a mile off through thick mist. People do want their politicians to be genuine, but they don’t buy that a carefully staged family scene provides that genuine insight.

In fact, party loyalties aside, Kirsten Farage’s decision is refreshing. She isn’t willing to be trooped out to be displayed to a curious public, or flung onto stage to plant a post-speech kiss on her husband.

Good on her for opting out of the spouse parade, and its accompanying flurry of what-did-she-wear, how-much-does-it-cost, where-can-I-buy-that-appliance photo features. Well done, Mrs Farage, and, indeed, the mysterious Mr Jepps.

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