The political aesthete. If you don’t know what it means but are one, don’t be smug just because it sounds like a lovely word. If you do know what it means, don’t be smug if you are one because in this sense it means the vapid gits for whom papparrazi photographers are their main source of electoral decision making.
An aesthete is an individual more concerned with beauty than they are substance. These are the people who see an awkward looking man struggling to eat a bacon sandwich with dignity and decide that Labour’s policies are not for them. They are the people who discuss Theresa May’s outfits, enjoy a politician who ‘looks smart’ and pay attention to details like who’s got a poppy on in November.
We are all aesthetes to an extent. There is a psychological phenomenon called ‘The Halo Effect’ whereby people are more likely to presume good qualities in another person based on good qualities elsewhere, e.g. looks. This presumed skill is obviously incorrect, though. There is no basis for their skill inherent in their appearance. How they look tells you nothing of their competence. Albert Einstein was a scruffy little oik who calculated the theories of general and special relativity. I don’t see Brad Pitt doing that.
The halo effect is something which I believe everyone should be aware of and make a conscious effort to try to overcome. Not (just) because I have a somewhat let-yourself-go, dishevelled appearance myself. No, because it leads to bad decision making like electing David Cameron.
So, using three random images I stole shamelessly from the BBC News live ticker, I am going to discuss the appearances of the leaders of the three main parties and how it may reflect their political ideologies.
Leader of the Conservative Party: Theresa May
The funny thing for aethetes is, with Theresa, they are very much going to have to fight their first impression because, let’s be honest, she looks like Star Wars’ Emporer Palpatine’s drag act, and has the policies to match. You can tell she has a team of advisors who dress her for success though. However, be honest, there are bigger issues in politics right now than how the PM is going to look getting her photo taken if she isn’t wearing a grotesque and expensive pair of shoes. Pomp and preening, which is pretty much the tory manifesto, is her modus operandi when it comes to her appearance. However, no amount of playing dress up can take away from the fact that she always has a face like a rat licking rancid fat from a café table.
So why would aesthete’s like her? Because she dresses smart, and powerfully. Although I’m not sure her current hairdo possesses any air of flattery. As mentioned before, she has a team to help her dress. They are checking out your opinions on what she wears, judging what they should and should not be doing and dressing up a vulture in as approval-rated an outfit as they can to lend her an air of credibility. It makes it more palatable if she looks smart while she pecks your carrion clean of flesh. It’s a scourge in politics, as well as the rest of the world. Style over substance.
But what does her appearance say about her policies? Well, actually she does look exactly like the kind of woman who would drown disabled people by hand. So expect further cuts to disability benefits if she comes to power. She also seems like the sort of person with a nice private healthcare package and access to their high level executives who can whisper sweetly in her ear “Wouldn’t it be nice if we took over the NHS and we switched to a US style health insurance system that gives people like us greater scope to profiteer whilst poor people start dealing with throat infections by gargling cayenne pepper because they can’t afford insurance and they can’t afford our bills!” And the EU? Her main argument for clutching at the straws of power? That this woman is going to be best placed to hard line them and get the best deal for Great Britain.
If you believe that you’ve never been to Europe. If she turned up with a tiny moustache and jackboots not many would bat an eyelid. Have you followed French politics? They don’t give a shit! They couldn’t care less if some preened Madame in kitten heels turns up trying to make a power play. This is a nation of people that has labour disputes every ten minutes, including one where they beat up supposed ‘superiors’ who came to announce a glut of lay-offs! France doesn’t care. Do you think Germany really, politically, respects the UK anymore? Oh they did before we left. They love us. Mr. Bean and cups o’ tea and red buses. They love all that stuff. They’re big UK fans, the Germans. Funnily enough given our unwarranted antipathy towards them. But Merkel didn’t get where she is today by bowing to the wills of the world’s neo-imperials, unless they work in the financial sector. Some Jam and Jerusalem Conservative type walking into those negotiations believing the UK has any power and respect left on the world stage is sorely mistaken and we need to position ourselves differently.
There are some countries on this planet that have an assumption of universality of mind. I believe the UK is one such country. I seems we think that because one person looks strong and respectable here, that can carry over all around the world. It doesn’t. Theresa May’s style to a middle-class, middle-aged UK audience is respectable, strong, empowering. To the rest of the world, though, does she look the same? No, she looks like an antagonist. And when was the last time you had successful negotiations with your enemy?
Leader of the Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn
Oh, look at him. He’s the antithesis of everything politics. He can often barely be arsed to put on a tie. You see he doesn’t believe in this aesthete nonsense either. The problem is it is very much true and people will look at the fact that you look like an uninterested geography teacher and use that to judge your ability or character. His white hair should give him a wizardly air, the Gandalf the White of politics, but actually it does just come across a bit Captain Bird’s Eye audition. This is not a man dressed for power. If he has advisors telling him how to dress he has definitely been advised to do the ‘every man’ schtick. The problem is, on him, it just makes him look irresponsible. Meanwhile, and sadly for Jeremy this is not something that he can change easily, his puffy eyes just make him look exhausted.
So why would aesthetes like him? Well unless they deeply respect an every man who tries his best, they don’t. It is, I believe, one of the key reasons for the media ignorance and/or apathy towards him. Well, that and I think he has a problem with the Murdoch monopoly, which basically sets you up to be mistreated. He doesn’t dress right, doesn’t act right, doesn’t shout, doesn’t swear, he makes protest videos for the internet, possibly on trains that may or may not have seating problems, he wears middle-aged teacher’s clothes, eats vegan sandwiches and is, by all accounts, a lovely chap. But that doesn’t matter in the narrow mind of the aesthetic voter. That’s the problem with that sort of thing. You could easily ignore a candidate whose policies actually best match your own simply because of presentation. This is why we need to combat the halo effect.
Jeremy looks like he belongs in a dustbin, but he is a credible politician. We’re talking about a man who has survived so many back-room assassination attempts you’d be forgiven for thinking he was some kind of immortal – like Highlander or that guy who guards the grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The enemies within his own party are now reduced to short-sighted sniping and self-destruction. Then they blame it all on him! They blame him for being a supposedly disruptive obstinate hell bent on destroying the labour party whilst some primped pimp in a suit for the Tory party doing the same thing would be called ‘strong’.
But what does his appearance say about his policies. Funnily enough about as much as Theresa May’s does. This is not a man who wants to strong-arm the EU but make no bones about it if you’re a Vote-Leaver, this man is as happy as you are. He wanted this too, so he is not going to try to stifle the leaving process. What is more he probably has a much better understanding of how the economics will impact the poor and working classes than May and will negotiate on those terms. Look at him? He’s a lefty through and through and he will want to make sure as much production and prosperity can stay in this country as possible and that the benefits go to all, not just a few.
What’s more, do you remember your old geography teacher who looked like Jeremy? Quiet, soft spoken, often had those horrid tanktop sweaters, would let you get away with attempted homicide but you push it to full-blown murder and – OOF! – it’s like a tornado in a factory of fuck. It’s a mess, and the murderer never got off lightly. There’s a fire behind those puffy eyes that says “I’m always happy for friends, and the views of critics are important, but don’t be my enemy.” and I know you don’t believe me but, again, remember this man has survived at the top with at least 50% of his party calling for his head on a silver platter. He buried them all. Quietly, but he did it. That’s a sly fox, right there, and someone who could make good negotiations with the EU, get us what we want, not be afraid to concede a little for a fairer deal and make sure Britain doesn’t end up a fickle financial hedgemony – a sordid little tax haven off the coast of mainland Europe – Which is what the Tories want.
But I doubt Jeremy nor his party are going to go one track like the government and make this all about Brexit and appearances. The NHS is in shambles and he loves the NHS. If you like the NHS and the notion of nationalised, free-at-point-of-service healthcare this is your guy! It will be a bigger hot-button issue than I think the Tories want to recognise, as many people are concerned about the underfunding and the disgusting treatment of staff by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. His ideological reforms of the junior doctor’s contract, that have been contested by people far more learned and knowledgable of the industry than Hunt, are a divisive issue.
Many people suggest that Corbyn’s politics are an attempt to return to the 70s, much like his outfits. Outdated leftist nonsense that couldn’t work. I counter that by saying the conservative policies are an attempt to return to the 1870s, when Britain still owned half the world and wasn’t dependent on a few money men in London who could flee any minute unless they get a ministerial handy-j in the Pret-a-Manger bathroom. I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up of politicians sucking banker’s dicks. If Jeremy is sucking dick (and I am not saying he is) he is doing so by finding like-minded fellatio fans on Grindr, like any self-respecting politician.
Then there’s the grammar school issue. A contentious one, hugely contentious. It has support on both sides, but I believe most of the people want good, proper investment in ALL state schools. Whilst talented pupils from poorer backgrounds do need opportunity to truly shine, one has to ask how many of those pupils will actually get to those grammar schools. It’s only anecdotal, but I myself went to a grammar school. It was shite. Full of prissy middle-class twatholes who wanted to play tough-guy and as a poorer pupil there I did not feel welcome, happy or supported. I felt judged. What’s more the opportunity that came out of it was slim-to-none because there was very little advice tailored to me. It was all based on the presumption I could afford things I couldn’t, I had contacts I didn’t, and I fit in with their world, which was untrue. It’s better to have a fairer society all around than it is to invest solely in selective schools as your educational saving grace, and Jeremy knows this. Of course he does, he knows education, you can tell because he looks like a teacher.
It’s an uphill battle for Jezza, and all we really need to see from him is a little bit more public brutality. Husting for this election he has the perfect opportunity to really attack the conservative government on levels that the general public, not just his core support, can understand. We don’t need wishy-washy, we don’t need liberal lovie stuff. We need to see him put some heads on the chopping block. If he does that, there’s a chance he could do well, at the very least cutting that Tory majority, at best there’s a progressive coalition that could take over this country and move it away from this nonsensical Pirates of Penzance politics we’ve got right now.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats: Tim Farron
That’s not a man. In fact any follower of cryptozoology can tell you that’s De Loy’s Ape. Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo.
The thing about Timmy here is he has the same problem Ed Milliband had. Yes he dresses smart, doesn’t have the dishevelled lefty beard, wears a tie. But his face is like a caricature of his own face. It always leads to him looking comical. He’s the Simon Pegg of politics. Seemingly affable but you wouldn’t put him in charge of your country, would you? Even his tie is wonky, for crying out loud. He gets an A for effort, but he’s a C+ at best.
You can see why aesthetes would like him, especially ones who pay little attention to fine detail – which is likely the majority. He looks like someone from the Liberal Democrats, possibly the most centrist, please-everyone crowd of all the political parties. He exemplifies what they stand for. He’s inoffensive in his appearance. Not super smart, not casual – just inoffensive. He has just enough respectability to be taken seriously, but not so much they could be called ‘illiberal’.
Except, sadly, Timmy has. I won’t go into detail on that because it’s irrevelent to the aesthetics but if you google ‘illiberal democrat’ you will find it.
So what policies can we infer from his appearance? Well imagine if the growling old mutt of Conservatism had its teeth pulled and then somehow crossbred with the vicious wildcat of Labour, with its teeth pulled. That’s what you get. Middle of the road pretty much sums up Tim Farron’s appearance and the Lib Dem manifesto. In and of itself that is not a ignoble cause. I don’t disagree with balance in politics at all (though I more support that through better representation and cross-party compromise – Literally the opposite of the reason for this election as Theresa May wants to dictator her way through a potential Tory civil war and Brexit negotiations) The problem is that these are some of the most partisan times ever and I am not sure that attempt at balance is going to be popular. They would be seen as too liberal by two fifths and not liberal enough by another two fifths – leaving them with 20% of people who think they’re a good idea.
What’s more, the lib dems have an image crisis beyond the aesthetic. Voters from 2010 who put their faith in the Liberal Democrats found their feeding hand getting very much bitten as Clegg and co. gave the country over to an unelected David Cameron and his Tory mob, who came to plunder from the poor and give to the rich. With recent news that the Liberal Democrats would not seek a coalition with Labour they are setting themselves up for that to become an issue once again. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants a repeat of the Vote-Orange-Get-Blue of 2010, except possibly core Lib Dem supporters.
So, that’s it. Our aesthetic breakdown of the leaders of the three main parties. What, then, does it all mean?
You CANNOT judge based on appearances. You will. Your brain is hard-wired to do so. All parties will be trying to force your brain into doing so in their favour. You must be the one to make a conscious effort to think beyond that and consider what is best for you.
It is easy to look a few photos and snipe, and judge and make inferences. They will be painted by your own biases just as mine were. They will be built upon a foundation of lies and misdirection from your own brain and if you don’t work to counter that you are not ‘following your gut’ or ‘being intuitive’ – you are being narrow minded, short sighted, shallow and irresponsible.
In this media-heavy day and age of politics it is very easy to be distracted by front page images of politicians looking stupid, or swayed by doctored images of holier-than-thou leaders looking strong. It’s all a ruse. It’s a facade. This is how propaganda is done and you are swallowing it whole and asking for seconds.
The news is biased. All of it. Every single news organisation does it for money. They have their own interests to represent and they will represent them. Some papers support one party, some papers support another. Maybe individual senior journalists are allowed their own opinion, but most of those journos have been picked by the paper for their stance, not despite it. You cannot take advice on policy from newspapers because they are going to fawn over what they like as part of their agenda, and trash anything they don’t like, no matter how sensible it may be.
You also can’t trust the opinions on official party websites or materials. Of course they’re biased! What’s more, let’s be honest, a party election manifesto can be trusted as much as a heroin addict in a poppy field. Politicians lie to get votes. They lie to keep votes. They lie to save face. They say things like “I won’t call a general election.” Then they call a general election. You can’t trust them as far as you can throw them and give me a chance I’ll chuck a few politicians a fair distance. We never want to elect a politician who supports our stance, we want a politician who will bow to it when it changes on a whim. Which we never get.
What’s more this election is not going to be fought on the battlefields of policies and manifestos. It’s too sudden. This is going to be fought on one point, and one point alone. That Theresa May is the only party leader who currently has the appearance of a leader.
That’s the byline, I’m calling it now. The conservatives are going to ask you to vote on superficial appearances and hollow inferences alone. It’s nonsense.
What you have to do is assess all the information, never trusting any of it entirely, but finding those nuggets of truth about policies and decisions that appeal to you. Vote based upon those, not based upon ideas of appearance of credibility of leadership. For crying out loud, at one point in time Adolf Hitler was probably the most credible appearing leader of the German Government that doesn’t mean it was right to vote for him! (also, +1 to my election coverage Godwin’s law tally.)
That’s all for now, but remember – Do not make political decisions with your eyes, or your heart. The brain is the organ you need to engage for this one.