More on the Politics of Facial Hair

I don’t think there’s any significant facial hair in Mr Brown’s new Cabinet, if these pictures are anything to go by. Beards were absent from the Cabinet room from 1931 to 1997, as I’ve discussed before, and it now looks as if the Blair era, for all its faults, was a unique Bearded Cabinet Minister Interlude, with Robin Cook, Frank Dobson, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke and (a bearded) Alistair Darling all holding Cabinet office. I’m not sure there are any obvious ministerial beardies on the horizon, either, but perhaps we’ll find out more tomorrow when the junior ministers get reshuffled.


I quite enjoyed the sixty-eight minutes during which we were primeministerless yesterday, but that’s probably because I spent virtually all of them eating a delicious lunch at Gino’s on Gloucester Green.

The BBC usefully covers the crises that hit the nation during this period of acephalousness (acephalocity?): Chantelle and Preston split up, a man was attacked by a buzzard in Aberdeenshire, and so on.

P.S. If anyone can produce a suitable-sounding German word for “primeministerlessness”, I shall be very pleased. I imagine it’d be quite long.

Dead Socialist Watch, #276

Edward Carpenter, English socialist and champion of gay sex. A clerical fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Carpenter resigned his holy orders and left for the North, teaching astronomy at Leeds and living from 1880 near Sheffield with his lover, Albert Fearnehough. He published Toward Democracy anonymously in 1883; from 1882 he was a market gardener and helped to popularise sandal-making as a suitable activity for socialists. He wrote a programme for the Sheffield Socialist Society in 1886, as well as “England Arise: a Socialist Marching Song”, and his 1889 Fabian Lecture was published as Civilization: Its Cause and Cure. He began his major works on sex in the 1890s, with Homogenic Love, and its Place in a Free Society later republished as Love’s Coming of Age. His most widely-read work was The Intermediate Sex, published in 1908. A pacifist, he opposed both the Boer War and the First World War. Born in Brighton, 29 August 1844, died in Guildford, 28 June 1929. His grave is here.

New Cabinet

By my count there are seven PPEists in Gordon Brown’s new Cabinet: Jacqui Smith (Hertford & Home Secretary), Yvette Cooper (Balliol & Housing), Ruth Kelly (Queen’s & Transport), Ed Miliband (Corpus Christi & Cabinet Office), James Purnell (Balliol & Culture – an unlikely combination), Ed Balls (Keble & Schools), David Miliband (CCC & FCO). That’s a lot of PPEists. And at least three of the Chancellor’s most recent team of special advisers are PPEists, too (Shriti Vadera, Dan Corry, Stewart Wood; I’m not sure where the other two studied. Perhaps Michael Jacobs and Gavin Kelly did PPE, too? Who knows?). So Gordon Brown may not like Oxford University much, but he does seem to like the PPE degree (or at least a subsection of those who take the course) very much indeed.

I Really Should Have Better Things To Do With My Time Than Reading Stephen Pollard’s Inane Blog

Stephen Pollard sensibly thinks that most online petitions are “a gimmicky waste of time”. But not when you put your online petition on the No.10 website, as anyone is able to do.  Then, if Pollard agrees with it, it becomes “imperative that it is signed”, no less, “precisely because it has the imprimatur of 10 Downing Street”.

What a funny man.

(Note also that in the post below this one he demonstrates his mastery of Islamic culture by confusing a hajib with a hijab, and note also also that the case was never about the hijab anyway, but about Ms Begum’s jilbab.)