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Politics – why do the baldies always lose (unless they’re up against other baldies)?

January 17, 2016
Churchill

Winston Churchill

When I was thirteen, I wanted to be Prime Minister. I also wanted to play cricket for England, an equally futile objective, as I very quickly discovered. But when at thirty I started losing my hair, I realised that even if I had the talent to become a successful politician, I would never have made it to the top.

Which probably explains why Donald Trump has constructed a comb-over as spectacular as a cirrus cloud at sunset.

Donald Trump 2

I’m sure I’m not the only one to have noticed that you don’t get to become President of the USA or Prime Minister of Great Britain without a full head of hair. So it has been in America since Eisenhower, and in the UK since Alec Douglas-Home. Odd, really, to think that fifty percent of men in both countries are effectively excluded from the highest office.

I hear my friends in the US mention Gerald Ford. But he wasn’t elected, and when he fought the ‘76 election against follically-blessed Jimmy Carter, he got beaten. Likewise, Douglas-Home succeeded Harold Macmillan without an election, and when he went to the polls against the silver-locked Harold Wilson, he got beaten too.

Looking even further back, it seems that the only way a baldie could get elected was by standing against another baldie. Thus Eisenhower beat fellow slaphead Adlai Stevenson in 1952, and in the UK, Clement Attlee won the 1945 election against Winston Churchill. Churchill, by the way, didn’t have to fight a general election as leader – he took over from Neville Chamberlain in 1940.

Eisenhower

Dwight D Eisenhower

Adlai Stevenson

Adlai Stevenson

It gets worse.

If you consider the number of times a woman has been elected to the highest office – once in Britain and never in the US – what this means that a mere quarter of the population of both countries is considered by the voters to be eligible to lead us.

Hillary Clinton may change this dynamic next year, but if she fails, the contest is likely to be between Trump, the aforementioned billiard-head in disguise (not true of course), and Bernie Sanders, whose fast-diminishing locks look out of the control of their owner, rather as though he has been struck by lightning. Of the two, I’d take Sanders’s wild country to Trump’s topiary any time. Same goes for their politics.

Bernie Saunders

Bernie Sanders

Hair is a big deal in politics. Even politicians have it, they seem unable to leave it alone. The Chinese leadership seems incapable of laying off the boot polish, as do the Gulf sheikhs. Heaven forbid that a few grey hairs should besmirch their image of eternal youth. Ageing British leaders seem to get fonder of the Brylcreem to older they get. David Cameron looks more like a seal every day. But at least he made it to PM. His two predecessors – William Hague and Ian Duncan Smith, both smooth-pated, never made it that far. Hague lost to Tony Blair, and Duncan Smith was removed without even fighting an election. His party obviously realised that it had made a dreadful mistake by selecting him as leader in the first place.

Iain_Duncan_Smith_May_2015

Iain Duncan Smith

Looking beyond politics, Prince Charles goes for the comb-back, most likely gel-assisted. I can forgive him for that, since it would never do for a member of our beloved Royal Family to step out in a howling gale with his hair flapping like a flock of seagulls.

But politicians? I still don’t understand it. Why would you trust a hairy airhead over a baldie with brains? In other walks of life, men have eagerly adopted the baldie look first made popular by the skinheads of the sixties. If you don’t have much on top, shave it off – far better than to sport the flying buttresses of a Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

After the skinheads, the No 1 head shave became popular among gay men, and then spread to metrosexual icons like David Beckham. These days anyone can sport a shiny dome without anyone questioning their sexual orientation or abilities – except politicians of course. Our continental friends – especially the French – tend to take a more tolerant view. Former French President Valery Giscard D’Estaing sported a magnificent pate, as does Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Francois Hollande, however, seems to use the Chinese treatment on his receding locks.

Giscard

Valery Giscard D’Estaing

Francois_Hollande

Francois Hollande

Twasn’t ever thus, though. Benito Mussolini, Italy’s wannabe Hitler, was the ultimate alpha baldie. And in the 19th century, lack of hair did the German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck’s career no harm. As for his arch rival, British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury was equally bald, though what he lacked on top he more than made up for with a beard that could have hosted a flock of starlings.

Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

Lord Salisbury

Lord Salisbury

Bismarck

Otto Von Bismarck

Part of the problem in the US is that the voters have never forgotten John F Kennedy. To be successful, every candidate must live up to his hirsute standards, even if some of them (Richard Nixon for example) get away with less springy variants. But we in the UK have no such excuse for our blatant hairism. After all, who would want to emulate Harold Wilson’s hairstyle?

Harold Wilson

Harold Wilson

There are solutions though – at least in my country (I will have more or less written off the good sense of the US electorate unless they prove otherwise next year).

First, we need to indulge in a bit of positive discrimination. Both of the main parties should create a Baldie List to ensure that a minimum number of bald candidates are put up for election as Members of Parliament. If we can do that with female candidates, why not baldies?

Then to give the incumbent party a bit of serious competition, we should grant British citizenship to Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, a man of great elegance and style. Having turned him into a Brit, we should parachute him into the Labour Party and persuade Labour’s metrosexual activists to make him leader in place of Jeremy Corbyn. With Yanis  – who wouldn’t be seen dead in a shell-suit – at the helm, Labour would have at least half a chance in the next election.

Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis

Another route would be to emulate the politicians of the Gulf, whose ghutras make it impossible to tell whether they’re bald or not. What’s more, if all our male MPs wore the ghutra, they would acquire a distinction that they are sadly lacking today. Yes, I know that the panjandrums of the Arabian Peninsula don’t need to be elected. But that’s a small detail. Prince Charles looks good in a ghutra – why not David Cameron?

Prince Charles Saudi

Prince Charles in Saudi Arabia

We could also try electing younger leaders, before their baldie genes have had a chance to kick in. We Brits have form in this regard – in 1783, William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister at the age of 24. Mind you, in those days, politicians generally wore wigs, so the state of their hair was pretty irrelevant.

PittThe_Younger

Pitt the Younger

If all else fails, let’s start electing more women Prime Ministers. Come to think of it, that’s what we should be working on first. At least that would up the leadership pool to seventy-five percent of the population, even if we baldies have to wait a while.

 

One Comment
  1. Elif permalink

    Excellent ending 🙂

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