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October 26, 2007

Age and Baldness strike again: Cable and Campbell too bald and too old for politics - Christie Davies recalls less prejudiced times when democracy meant gerontocracy

Posted by Christie Davies

Ming Campbell's resignation from and Dr Vince Cable's unwillingness to stand for the Liberal Democratic leadership because they are too old (they themselves say so) and seriously bald show how strongly British politics is in the grip of bigoted ageism, argues Professor Christie Davies.

Here Professor Davies builds upon his groundbreaking analysis of baldness in British politics: Have recent Tory leaders lost elections because they were bald?

Why did Dr Vince Cable the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats decline to stand for the leadership of that party when the Mingy Scot stood down? He is after all the most intelligent of the Lib Dem's M.P.s; indeed he often seems to me the only intelligent Liberal Democrat M.P. He is well educated, well informed, and a good leader, so why did he not stand? He did not do so because he is very very bald and as I have proven beyond doubt in a previous essay for the Social Affairs Unit, no bald man can ever again become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

That was why the bald Ming Campbell failed and why, during the brief reign of Mingers, many of the Liberal Democrat voters wanted Charlie "Jock the Lad" Kennedy, a discovering alcoholic, back. Kennedy had a nice mop of red hair that matched his whisky-burnished red face. It is though beginning to go thin and has to be combed forward; it is being drowned at the roots. Alcohol beguiles and deliles.

Menzies (pronounced Mingy in Caledonia, Menses in Australia) Campbell, although only 66 and a fit old sprinter, resigned because his colleagues whispered that he was too old for the job or rather looked too old for the job. Cable is only 64 but has given his advanced age as the reason why he is not standing for the leadership.

In either case the problem is not that these men lack mental or physical stamina but that they are bald. If you are 65 years of age and bald, you have an image of being about 90 and unfit for anything; by contrast, with a good head of hair a 65 year old can pass for 45 and everyone will say how vigorous he seems.

Today a male politician is as old as he looks on television. If people, when slumped in front of the screen after an obesity promoting television-dinner, washed down with a few Charlie Kennedy burra peg specials, click their remote controls during a party political broadcast and it looks as if the moon is coming up on the horizon, the politician concerned is finished. It is all the fault of what has become known as "the female gaze". For modern women voters men are merely youth objects. When youth objects, the women listen. Women will marry bald old chaps for their money but they won't vote for them.

But in any case why should it have been a problem that Campbell is 66? Why was it cited as the reason that he had to go? Was it not enough that he was useless, Scottish and boring, to name just one of his failings? Why bring his age into it?

For much of the twentieth century it was not a handicap for a politician to be old and bald. The greatest of British politicians, Winston Churchill took office as Prime Minister in 1940 aged 66 and only finally quit in 1955 at the age of 81. Throughout he looked like a bald-headed bulldog, quite unlike his chief opponent Adolf Hitler, fifteen years younger and known for his neatly parted hair that even covered the left hand side of his forehead.

How wonderful Adolf looked to the broad masses assembled in the Fernsehstuben (television parlours) of the Reich, the country that first invented television and pioneered that form of broadcasting. I do not wish to appear chauvinistic but I am of the firm opinion that, for all his aged baldness, Churchill was the better man of the two. When we take a longer view of history, hair is less important than Dr Brown and Mr Cameron and the television producers think.

Most countries turn to gerontocracy in a crisis. Georges Clėmençeau, le tigre (the tiger) was 76 and seriously bald when he became Prime Minister of France in 1917 and turned reasoned and sensible defeatism into unexpected and undeserved victory. Likewise Charles de Gaulle was 68 when he became the last Prime Minister of the Fourth Republic and the first President of the Fifth at a time of, even by French standards, utter chaos. De Gaulle only left office to become an airport when he was 79.

The last of the golden oldies to save their country was Ronald Reagan, the man who defeated the Evil Empire of Soviet Communism, a task as important as Churchill's defiance of the Nazis. Reagen was already 69 when he defeated the weak and worthless Jimmy Carter for the Presidency of the United States and after serving two terms Reagan was 77. Churchill and Reagan were the two grand old men who saved democracy and justified the trust placed in them by their democratic peoples.

Likewise in their time of recovery after defeat in World War II the shaky democracies of West Germany and Italy turned to Konrad Adenauer, der Alte, Chancellor from 1949, aged 73, to 1963, aged 87, and to Alcide de Gasperi, Prime Minister from 1945 aged 64, to 1953 aged 72. By virtue of their very age and survival they provided a continuity that their nations and their nations' institutions lacked.

Today we are apt to forget how very old all these successful democratic leaders were. We remember only the ones who went gaga like the Soviet Union's friends Roosevelt and Kekkonen. We remember only the senile dictators with names ending in "o", Franco, Tito, Mao, Castro, Chernenko, who remained in power because there was no legitimate way of getting rid of them and fear as to what would happen if any other method were used.

None of the silly hirsute youngsters - Blair, Brown, Kennedy, Cameron - can even begin to be compared with the great aged democrats, Churchill, Adenauer, de Gaulle, Reagan. It is a measure of the double triviality of our times that the former group of juveniles ever had political careers at all. The times are trivial because politics no longer seems to involve titanic struggles against evil and in consequence trivial questions such as hair and age decide who becomes leader.

It is time to change the very language we use and make baldness normal. Just as those who can see are now called "sighted persons" and those who are not deaf are known as "hearing persons", so too those who lack baldness should be called haired persons. It is not enough to provide wigs on the NHS, we must continue the struggle against hairism until the stigmatisation of baldness has been banished from Britain's increasingly greenist and unpleasant land. Let our motto become "Baldness be my friend". Thirty years from now the average age of the adult population in several EU countries will be over 60. If the Lib Dems, the EU party, want to be the heart pacemaker of Europe, they must have politicians to match.

It is also a mark of the triviality of the Liberal Democrats that they cannot recognize the merits of the only decent man they've got, merely because he's bald and looks old. Unlike most politicians Cable has actually studied things difficult and material and graduated from Cambridge both in science and in economics. He was also President of the Cambridge Union in the academic year 1964-5, the greatest year in that institution's history.

Everyone thought Cable had a brilliant academic future in front of him but it ended when he got a Scottish PhD. Cable had a series of demanding real jobs ending up as Chief Economist of Shell International, which is probably why he has no understanding whatsoever of the imperative need for nuclear energy.

Because, like Joseph Chamberlain, another vigorous, patriotic, reforming Liberal, he had been at work in productive industry, Cable did not enter Parliament until 1997 when he was 54. The only two ways in which you can be a very young leader are either grotesque privilege or doing non-jobs that ease you quickly into politics, or both like ….well, you know who I mean. So long as the system puts age and hair first those are the kinds of party leaders you are going to get.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats were forced either to go Huhne-lite as in the old German proverb "Life is like a Chicken-coop Ladder (Hühnerleiter), short and shitty" or to favour the cactus burning Clegg. Both sported a good head of hair.

Professor Christie Davies is the author of The Strange Death of Moral Britain, the leading account of modern British political history and of the strange death of Conservative England.


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Just as I always thought - HUMPTY DUMPTY WAS PUSHED!

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at November 4, 2007 01:33 PM
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