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Would Hague have fared better with a wig?

July 28th, 2005

    Can a bald leader beat one with hair?

If you aspire to the leadership of your party and are a bit thin on top one of the most depressing political facts is that in modern times a party led by a bald man has never beaten a party led by someone with hair in a UK general election.

The only time the country has had bald man at Number 10 was between 1940 and 1955 when first it was Churchill, then it was Atlee and then it was back to Churchill again. In the General Elections of 1945, 1950, and 1951 it was bald fighting bald.

Recent examples of bald leaders failing are Neil Kinnock in 1987 and 1992 and, of course, William Hague in 2001. Ian Duncan Smith did not stay in the Tory leadership long enough to fight an election.

Of course whoever was Tory leader in 2001 was going to find it a struggle but would the party have done better if Hague had not lost his hair or if he had had the foresight to acquire a hair-piece when he was starting to get a bit thin on top? His baldness became another thing that could be attacked and riduculed and Labour felt so confident about the public attitude to bald men in 2001 that they were happy to feature his lack of hair in a poster campaigns.

    Is it any wonder then that ambitious politicians who fear that they might be losing their hair seek a remedy. The Catch-22 is that they might get found out and not only are they seen to be bald but they appear vain as well.

In this the UK is unlike France which has had a number of bald presidents including Chirac, Germany which had Kohl and Italy with Berlesconi. In the US one of the hot tips for the Republican nomination is John McCain who is thinning on top.

Since this first came up in one of our discussions a week or so ago a number of PB.C users have emailed me privately to say that X or Y has a hair-piece. Leading figures in all three parties have been mentioned and we have been provided with interesting photographic evidence. I’m still trying to work out what to do with it.

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Mike Smithson






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