It’s something that most of us do in our everyday working lives. It’s something that was, on occasion, expected when we were children – with a little help from our parents. It’s something that we sometimes do in our social lives. I am talking about dressing smartly.
I would like to discuss this in the context of David Cameron’s personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance in the Commons. The question I would like to answer is whether or not a politician’s appearance really matters. I am going to lean on the side of “yes, it does.”
When we’re looking for a person to lead our country we want someone organised, trustworthy (relatively speaking, of course), up to date on issues both inside and outside of our borders, and with the capacity to solve problems that may arise for our country. Being the Prime Minister is a hefty responsibility and comes with all manner of tasks that need to be done, resources that need to be allocated and big decisions to make; leading a country is a taxing profession. So personally, when I’m casting my vote in the big election, if a candidate can’t even present themselves appropriately, it’s going to put me off voting for them. How can I trust someone to be in charge of the country that I live in when they can’t even do up their own tie? It’s a matter of confidence.
I will also say that it really shouldn’t matter from a policy perspective. Naturally, the better policies should be, and most often are, the deciding factor on whom I cast my vote for in the elections. I will vote for the party that I believe will lead the country to a better future, whether Labour, Conservative, UKIP, Green or Monster Raving Loony Party. However, it goes back to the point about trust. A party manifesto can include all of the most wonderful policies with no visible drawbacks and make everything seem clear cut, but if the candidate has a messy appearance, I find myself asking “can I trust this mess of a person to deliver if he/she can’t deliver a tidy appearance?” It’s not that difficult to dress smartly, especially when compared to decisions on spending cuts and a country’s fiscal policies for the following four years.
Another thing to consider is that our country’s prime minister is a figurehead. The prime minister is to be the face of our country on the global stage. Our prime minister will be discussing external affairs with the rest of the world, so a tidy appearance is a must there too. Personal presentation is just as important as the presentation of ideas or reforms, as again it falls to confidence. If I were the leader of a country and was going to talk with another politician who showed up with an unkempt appearance, I would be less willing to work with them than I would with someone who took the time to present themselves well. It may sound elitist or snooty, but it’s like showing up to work in an ordinary nine to five office job in tracksuit bottoms and a tank top; there are professional expectations with almost every job, and being a politician is certainly no exception.
Plus, if you’re giving a rival politician such trivial ammunition as your scruffy appearance, maybe you don’t deserve the position. There are so many worse things that politicians can dig for, but appearance is one that just requires some time in the morning to remedy. I’ve seen US elections, and they get a lot more personal, vicious and downright bitchy over there, so our politicians have it relatively easy by comparison!
Photo credit: 70023venus2009 via Flickr