On Monday I reported that a scandal was unfolding concerning Samantha Cameron’s “£65 M&S dress” worn at Conservative party conference.
On one level, it really doesn’t matter what the spouses of party leaders wear, and, within reason, how much they pay for it, particularly since the Camerons are well remunerated for David’s parliamentary work, as well as being privately wealthy.
On another, when strenuous efforts are made for one thing to appear as something else entirely, that’s hypocrisy and it should be exposed. So when, as the Mirror reported last Sunday, strings are pulled to obtain an off-the-shelf dress that hasn’t been on the shelf for months, it’s worthy of comment in organs such as this.
Today, a story appears in the Times that deepens our understanding further, and unveils a further set of complications.
Mrs Cameron set in train a series of events that led to her getting the dress. The Mirror reported it as finding too large a dress and having it altered. Today’s Times suggests it was more radical than that:
M&S said initially that they could not get hold of the garment in store but it was believed that they eventually found a press sample.
In truth it was a practically bespoke £150 sample, not a £65 off-the-peg garment as previously claimed.
The controversial viscose shift was run up specially as a favour to the company by Amanda Marshall Ltd, run by Alison Mansell, which supplied the dresses. This was despite M&S having dropped them as a supplier in February, placing 15 jobs in jeopardy.
And a further few interesting details:
Mrs Cameron, who was charged £57 for the dress after being given a staff discount of 20 per cent, strode out on to the Conservative Party conference platform wearing the very same garment on October 8. Ms Markeviciene, who was at her sewing machine when she spoke to The Times this week, said: “It’s a great dress — it’s famous.”
A spokesperson for David Cameron stated that Mrs Cameron was not aware of the history or the fact that the dress cost the company nothing. Mr Cameron delivered his speech in a £3,500 bespoke suit from Richard James although, Conservative Central Office insisted, he paid only £1,185.25.
… which just begs many more questions! Why did the Camerons get M&S staff discount when neither of them work there? Why would M&S go to such lengths to obtain a dress, without taking credit for those lengths by telling the client? How on earth is a suit worth £3,500? Was Mr Cameron shopping in the sales to get an almost £2,500 discount? Was the difference in price declared in his register of members’ interests? (I can’t see it here?)