Forget tax cuts, AMANDA PLATELL on the cut that has Westminster talking: It’s the rise of the power bob for Labour’s leading women
- Several women on Labour’s frontbench have gone for the iconic bob haircut
- Rachel Reeves debuted her new hairdo at this year’s Labour conference
- Several others, including Liz Kendall and Thamgam Debbonaire, joined her
Before Margaret Thatcher’s landmark trip to Iran as Leader of the Opposition in 1978, she requested that the British ambassador provide her with a ‘good local hairdresser’ and a set of heated Carmen rollers.
Not even delicate foreign negotiations distracted Mrs T from her coiffed bob. She saw it as a symbol of her strength – a secret weapon in her armoury.
So do we see history repeating itself with Labour’s frontbench women who have, one by one, cut off their scraggy, frizzy locks?
First, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves debuted her new hairdo at this year’s Labour conference: a brunette bob so glistening you needed sunglasses.
Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Liz Kendall, meanwhile in a trend first pointed out on BBC-TV’s Have I Got News For You, has chopped off her long locks and replaced them with a razor-sharp bob.
So has Labour’s spokeswoman for Culture Media and Sport, Thangam Debbonaire, with an even shorter – dare I say sportier – look.
Several women on Labour’s frontbench have chosen to sport a bob haircut in recent weeks
Fifty-seven-year-old Welsh Shadow Minister Jo Stevens’s hairstyle is slightly longer, more flattering to the mature face.
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has chosen a cut as severe as befits any formidable headmistress while Women and Equalities boss Anneliese Dodds has opted for a short curly bob.
Of course they would all vehemently deny it, but it seems they have taken a leaf out of their nemesis Maggie’s rule-book.
I’m sure they’d argue that, instead, they’re channelling Labour’s most successful female politician of recent years – former Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman.
Perhaps Labour’s favourable polling has given them a whiff of power, making them smarten up their act.
A shorter cut came to symbolise female emancipation and individuality, marking the emergence of the early feminism movement
After all, studies have shown that women with short hairstyles are seen as more serious, focused, efficient and professional – and less sexy.
Hairdresser to the stars Julia Carta says: ‘More precise styles give the impression that women can hack it in the man’s world of politics.
‘These women are ruling the world. They don’t want people to be distracted by their hair, so sharper power cuts help them to be taken seriously.’
The bob haircut first emerged as a popular style in the 1920s. During the First World War, women enrolled into work for the first time soon found long locks were no longer convenient.
A shorter cut came to symbolise female emancipation and individuality, marking the emergence of the early feminism movement.
Labour’s frontbench maybe channelling the party’s most successful female politician of recent years – former Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman (pictured)
The new trend of haircuts has been compared to Playmobil figures
Decades later the style had become so popular toy firms such as Playmobil started giving dolls bob cuts. Have this group of Labour women rediscovered their ‘girl power’?
Perhaps I’m reading too far into it. Maybe they’re simply being frugal and use the same cut-price hair salon in Parliament that the Tories’ Ann Widdecombe frequented. After all, with a politician’s schedule, a bob is the easiest cut to manage.
But then female Tory MPs seem to have left the short hairdo behind in favour of more modern, fashionable styles.
Take, for example, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s bouffant blowout. Or Science Secretary Michelle Donelan’s auburn tresses.
Or Mims Davies MP, who revealed that she opted for a short ‘political haircut’ when she had stood for election in Eastleigh in 2015, then two years later realised she didn’t need an austere hairdo to ‘fit in’.
One thing’s for sure, Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner hasn’t joined the Bob Set. She proudly sticks to her ravishing, red Rapunzel ringlets. I’m told she feels they empower her.
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