Letter: Purple and privileged

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Sir: Some have suspected it for a long time, New Labour is now to the right of the Tories. Purple, their new colour, is of royalty, privilege, that of the highest in rank, of moneyed cardinals and bishops. We know that New Labour is a "broad church" but surely not in this sense. It may be appropriate, however, for those who send their children to fee-paying schools.

Red on the other hand stands for Old Labour virtues, the colour of magic, magnanimity and fortitude. Still a colour of privilege, adopted by huntsmen after Henry II declared fox-hunting a royal sport, it is red which is the colour of passion. Women's magazines agree that red is the colour of seduction, intensity and adoration, the colour to bring about changes.

But purple may have been adopted as a subconscious linking with its classical use as the colour of death. Homer wrote, "purple death fell over him" - certainly Tony Blair's fate if Labour is defeated on 1 May. And in Italy it is still a most unlucky colour, one never worn by surgeons in the operating theatre.

Colour symbolism, particularly change of a colour symbol, is not to be undertaken lightly or by those not well versed in the subject. A piece of advice: forget purple.


Colour and Appearance Consultant