Bald truth about attracting voters
Tony Blair might believe that a strong economy and record investment in public services are helping Labour to sustain a healthy lead in the opinion polls.
But some believe the fact that he has a fuller head of hair than his Conservative counterpart may tip a few floating voters mulling over the merits of Labour and the Tories his way.
This might seem trivial nonsense - but research from the early 1990s found that the proportion of bald men making it to elected office in the US was four times less than the number of follicularly challenged males in the population at large.
The last time a bald politician was elected to Number 10 was Winston Churchill in 1951 - and he was up against the equally receded Clement Attlee.
Our last bald Comamnder in Chief was Ford, though you have to go back to Ike to find one who was elected (and he beat Adlai Stevenson whose nickname "Egghead" was applicable to both the interior and exterior of said head).
This brings back some humorous memories of Al Gore's combover. It doesn't, however, explain my defeat
. At 32, I still had a reasonably full head of hair, while my mid-60s opponent was receding a bit. But not nearly as bad as I am now at 41.
Or maybe it was something else:
Not that all hair is a good thing. The last prime minister to sport a moustache was Harold Macmillan in the early 1960s, and the last bearded occupant of Number 10 was David Lloyd George, who left office in 1922.
And in America it would be Taft and Benjamin Harrison...
But back to the UK and back to baldness. The Scottish National Party got some voters in a snit using the all-American tool of pre-recorded phone calls
from their most prominent supporter: "Hello there. This is Sean Connery. No, it's not a joke - unfortunately the real joke is the Labour party."
Years and baldness have not deterred the appeal of the only REAL 007, so there may be hope for us all.
The big story of the day appears to be the defection ofLabour MP Brian Sedgemore to the Lib Dems
. Sedgemore was "standing down" this election. "Stand down" is Britspeak for not running, er, standing again. Fans of alt-80s music may recall the great English Beat single "Stand Down Margaret"
, which somehow was never a US hit.
Mr Sedgemore, who is standing down from parliament and not contesting his Hackney South and Shoreditch seat, said he was leaving Labour after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the government over the Iraq war and "authoritarian" anti-terrorism legislation.
Blair seems aware that the war is a problem. While the cabinet
is staying in lockstep, the backbenchers are getting a pass:
More than 30 Labour MPs are putting out statements explicitly opposing the war, including Valerie Davey in Bristol West, who was visited yesterday by Tony Blair.
Bristol West is considered, in American parlance, a swing state.
Not content to let Labour contradict their own policies, the Conservatives have earned the Onionesque headline Tories attack own schools record
Nine days to go...UK Election