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Why weren’t we all talking about David Cameron’s Amusing Hair Loss?

July 2, 2015


Why weren’t we talking more about this?   I mean, April/May sort of time?   A picture of Miliband eating a bacon sandwich seemed pretty decisive in the minds of many, and I’ve been coming across all these images of Cameron attempting various comb-over strategies and maybe even wigs.  In terms of the crude political nomenclature of our age, if you can’t trust someone because of an inelegant split second image of sandwich eating, then how can you trust the far more deliberate, calculated and recurring duplicity of baldness evasion?  If someone is living a lie on top of their head, then how can they be trusted to tell the truth about anything, ever?  I mean, the political hatchet job pretty much writes itself?

Now these images have been busy enough on the internet, but let’s be honest about the internet.   Political commentary on the internet is circulated by means of “likes” and “shares” which involves a degree of circularity.  People live in echo chambers of self reinforcing commentary and rarely reach, let alone persuade, people outside their own interpretive community.  Tabloid newspapers on the other hand, reach everyone who has to queue for groceries in Tesco.  You cannot purchase food having seen versions of the bacon sandwich photo.  That’s what I call outreach.  And, at the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, the people who own tabloids are committed to producing embarrassing images of Miliband rather than Cameron.

There are a few papers that like to mock Cameron, but these are not tabloids.  Their headlines are in a smaller font.  And if they were to have a front page story about Cameron’s hair, they would be regarded as having “betrayed” their own supposedly high minded principles.  (That’s the depressingly unidirectional thing about hypocrisy – those many rags that deal in Fear, Hatred, Greed and Stupidity generally manage to live up to their own standards and can never be accused of it.)

I am reminded of Ian McEwan’s rather over-praised novel Amsterdam which interrogates the problematic hypocrisy of exposing horrible people by using the same means employed by horrible people.

The Guardian did do a piece on Cameron’s hair once – you can find it here…

But of course, it wasn’t a front page – so it didn’t get the attention of those queuing in Tesco.  And if you read the article, you see that it soon drifts from making fun of Cameron to becoming a general advice column on coming to terms with hair loss. In no sense has the photo at the top of this blog ever rivaled the sandwich photo.

Of course, our better angels would chip in at this point and say that we don’t want to talk about baldness or bacon sandwiches.  Cameron’s hair loss deserves not a hemi demi semi quaver of commentary compared to his role in criminalising poverty, accelerating inequality and creating a regressive tax and spending regime that promotes a hereditary oligarchy that will claim the lives of thousands of people next winter.

In all honesty, though, it’s exactly this sort of woolly-headed rarefied focus on life and death issues that may have cost us the last election.

So, to recap.  The uncommitted are more exposed to front pages of tabloids than they are to urgent political debate.  The left doesn’t have the means or the will to use the same techniques as right wing tabloids.  What’s to be done?

If only there was some way about having a debate about the political morality of talking about Cameron’s baldness which somehow circulated the fact of his baldness sufficiently to reach a wide audience?




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