Because he's worth it: Why hair matters so much to politicians

Few get closer to the Prime Minister than his barber, so no wonder Cameron's has been awarded with an MBE. And hair has always been big in politics, explains Andy McSmith

Say this for David Cameron: at least his Government has shown proper respect for an old and respected profession by awarding celebrity barber Lino Carbosiero a MBE. Cutting the hair of the famous is a sensitive task. Who else but the barber stands over a Prime Minister and talks down to him?

And what secrets can the man behind the barber's chair glean? King Lowry Lynch, according to an old Irish myth, would have his hair styled once a year, after which the barber would be executed, lest he reveal the dark secret that the King had horse's ears. King Midas's barber, in Greek mythology, was privy to a similar secret.

Mr Carbosiero, who charges £90 a snip for men and £150 for women, is the only person outside the Cameron household who knows the secret of the bald spot that is rumoured to appear and disappear at different locations around the Prime Minister's head. Yesterday, on Sky News, he denied that it even existed. Clearly, this man performs exceptional services for the Crown.

The revelation of his MBE was not the only piece of news to emerge this month concerning politicians and their hair. A document released a few days ago from the National Archives revealed that Margaret Thatcher had no fewer than 118 hair appointments in 1984 alone – an average of one every three days.

But ever since women have been in politics, it has been assumed that they must take good care of their hair.

That message was forcibly conveyed to the future Labour Cabinet minister Shirley Williams in the 1930s, when she was only eight years old, and Lady Astor, the first woman to take up a seat in the Commons, told her bluntly: "You will never get on in politics, my dear, with that hair." For a time, she rather bravely ignored that warning and picked up the nickname the "Shetland Pony".

But male politicians also need something substantial on top, because it is assumed that a bald man cannot win a UK general election. William Hague, whom the Tory MP Alan Clark described as "looking like a golf ball", was only the second Conservative Party leader in the 20th century not to become Prime Minister. The third was his equally bald successor, Iain Duncan Smith.

Thatcher's predecessor, Edward Heath, had a fine head of hair, of which he was shamelessly proud. He even boasted to a Conservative annual conference that "the barbers of West Bromwich have banded together and come to the conclusion that, seen from the back, my haircut was the best in the country". He then apologised to the representatives in the hall that this "splendid panorama" was visible only to members of the national executive on the stage behind him.

In 1961, William Troyack, master of the London branch of the Incorporated Guild of Hairdressers, Wigmakers and Perfumers, explained the political power that lies in a barber's scissors. "A politician seeking to make a name for himself should create a characteristic hair style and stick to it for the rest of his life," he said. "It becomes his trademark. People remember him by it.

"Dig back through history and you'll see what I mean. Disraeli wore ringlets. Lloyd George had bardic locks. Macmillan waves his and there are peaks at the sides."

He was speaking soon after John F Kennedy's sensational victory in the US presidential election over the more experienced and better-known Richard Nixon. Troyack had a simple explanation for how it came about: Kennedy had the better haircut.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Britain's internet habits have been revealed in a new survey
tech
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Pricing Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

    Data/ MI Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

    Project Manager with some Agile experience

    £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

    Web Application Support Manager

    £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style