I took a day off work this week - to catch up on sleep and work for the election campaign. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but while sitting on the sofa, stuffing yet more envelopes - this time with youth newsletters for 1st time voters - I watched a bit of 'Loose Women'. I couldn't believe it - they were talking about politics. Or were they...? Well, if you count the state of Gordon Brown's fingernails as politics!
Of course, they rolled out the usual bland statements - lamenting the fact that politics had become obsessed with image. Who was to blame - the media or the politicians' manipulation of the media? But the presenters then went on to reinforce this sorry state of affairs, commenting on David Cameron's and Tony Blair's physical appearance.
Unfortunately, the cult of celebrity and the modern media age has infected politics, to the point where the substance of different values and ideas has been diluted by the media. But what about voters? Do we really vote based on looks and charm? Or can we see through this? Will David Cameron be swept to victory at the next UK elections because he has better groomed fingernails than Gordon Brown?
Thankfully, these trends are not as pronounced in Scotland. Even when political debate centres on individuals - Salmond vs. McConnell for example - this is based on substantive comparisons of the two. It is fair to compare the two on things like their oratory skills, their record in politics and their ability to inspire voters. All politicians should be judged on their actions, not their appearance. After all, I thought politics was supposed to be showbiz for ugly people...*
*Disclaimer: This does not apply to my handsome husband, who has both substance and style!