Lib Dems hope to refresh image

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The Independent Online
Margaret Thatcher did it; the Labour front bench did it. Now the Liberal Democrats are urging their MPs and candidates to do it too - get "made over"by an image consultant at next week's party conference.

"Be aware that 55 per cent of the impression you make on someone is based on your appearance, 38 per cent depends upon your voice and only 7 per cent actually depends upon what you say," the invitation from the candidates training team to a Color Me Beautiful presentation revealingly warns.

A number of Liberal Democrat MPs have already gone for the treatment, including Paddy Ashdown, the party leader. But Mary Spillane, CMB's founder, said yesterday: "MPs need constant help." Liberal Democrats do not appear to need much encouraging. Ms Spillane, who pioneered colour co-ordination linked to people's "seasonal" characteristics (Paddy Ashdown was soft autumn, now he is changing to warm autumn because he's going grey) expects about 200 to turn up to presentations next Wednesday.

At pounds 15 each, covering a personal workbook and colour material swatches, it appears cheap at the price. The average fee for a consultation by CMB experts, usually involving a trip to the shops, is about pounds 150 - more if Ms Spillane conducts it herself.

Ms Spillane, a former human rights adviser to both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, said that while both sexes and all political parties had their "blind spots", the Tories were probably the most complacent. She is gearing up to advising members of the Thatcherite Conservative Way Forward to vary the stuffed shirt image of the traditional British suit.