Tonsorially challenged reach for the roots

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sex and authenticity, that's what I was looking for yesterday. The allegation that the Bishop of Sedgefield had been receiving counselling for an insincere haircut, and was failing to "connect" with women voters, has sent shock-waves reverberating around the House. "If Beauty Blair isn't doing it for women", the unspoken thought has run, "then what chance have I got?" So, had bouffant hairdos been chopped overnight? Would Michael Portillo next be seen with a Depardieu shag-cut, five o'clock shadow and a Gauloise hanging from his lower lip? Were we to be treated to a series of junior ministers making tearful speeches about their relationships with their mothers? Well, the first thing I saw as I sat in the gallery was Derek Conway (Con, Shrewsbury and Atcham), standing there at the Bar of the House, wearing a frock-coat and clutching what appeared to be a billiard cue. Was this not taking authenticity a little too far, I wondered aloud to my neighbour - could Conway not have left the cue at the pub? No, it was explained to me patiently, Mr Conway (a government whip) is Vice- Chamberlain to Her Majesty's Household, and that is his staff of office. Once a week he reports to the Queen on happenings in Parliament, and then comes back and stands there.

By now it was time for Home Office questions, and I examined all on view purely in terms of their physical appeal for one section of the electorate or another. Down whose spine does Michael Howard send a delicious shiver?

Who goes to WH Smith and asks for posters of Jack Straw to decorate their bedrooms? Is there a section of our diffuse population with the specialist tastes necessary for a proper appreciation of Anne Widdecombe? How many PVC fetishists are there out there, anyway?

Peter Griffiths (Con Portsmouth North) had his eyes on minorities when he argued for those who "shoot with muzzle-loading, flint-lock or match- lock pistols" not to be penalised by the new firearms Bill.

So if anyone you know is killed in a duel this year, blame Peter. The buxom Brummie Conservative Dame Jill Knight, defended Freemasons from Labour, arguing that "what a gentleman chooses to do in his spare time is unimportant". Particularly if one trouser leg is rolled up, and one nipple exposed. It was all sexy stuff, by Commons standards, but nothing to what came later in Prime Minister's Question Time.

With John Major away in Bordeaux (the place for aromatherapy), and Tony off getting a facial (Clarins please, the others bring me out in spots), it was Hezza versus Prezza. Theoretically the Deputy Prime Minister - whose hair is not so much bouffant as explodant - should be doing badly in the sex stakes.

Few can possibly take so much trouble as he does. But it is all theatrical overstatement, natural - childlike almost - in its ebullience.

The de-bouffant Mr Prescott, by contrast, cannot be accused of over-attention to his hair, his ties, or his suit.

If his uneven and asymmetrical tonsure, with its half-fringe, cost him more than pounds 2.50 at Bert's Brilliantine Barber's Shop, then he's been robbed. And that, of course is precisely what the wily Prescott wants us to think.

In fact, authentic, scruffy haircuts and clothes for politicians cost an absolute fortune from specialist branches of DKNY, and are the true marks of vanity.

I beg your pardon? What did they actually say? I don't know; this is a political column, not some heavy policy analysis. Try the Daily Star.