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Theresa needs to keep herself in check... we need our politicians to look like leaders when it comes to a crisis

By Lindy McDowell

Published 06/07/2016

Checking in: Theresa May’s tartan suit wasn’t so much a musical tribute, but a message about homespun values
Checking in: Theresa May’s tartan suit wasn’t so much a musical tribute, but a message about homespun values

Theresa May in that tartan trouser suit - what was she thinking? I know that of all the crucial questions raised by events of the last startling week in Westminster, the appearance of Theresa May City Roller may not seem the most pressing.

But in a way, it gets to the crux of the matter.

Politicians - they're not looking good right now. And I don't just mean in the statesmanlike sense (although thanks heavens Winston, Aneurin and Maggie are not around to witness the pits to which Westminster has descended.)

This is not the nation's darkest hour. It's not war we're facing. Or great natural catastrophe. But it is a tricky time.

And difficult days call for those who lead us to rise above petty rivalry, personal ambition, posturing and gimmickry.

Instead, we've had Boris casting himself as Julius Caesar, Gove casting himself as Michael of Arc, Jeremy Corbyn acting the limpet and Theresa wearing Black Watch.

At first glance, when she appeared at that presser to launch her prime ministerial bid, all I could see was the tartan jacket. There's outreach to Glasgow and Edinburgh, I thought.

The camera panned back. Theresa was top-to-toe in tartan. Wide-legged tartan trousers that would have done justice to a drum major from Aberdeen.

She'd gone the full Orkneys. The full Highlands and Islands. And this look won't, of course, have happened by accident.

Theresa's suit (Vivienne Westwood - over a grand) isn't a new one. She's worn it before to a Tory party conference. But obviously some thought will have gone into the choice of this suit on this occasion by both Theresa and her "people".

This isn't just workwear. It's a message about solidity and homespun values.

And, to some extent, up yours Nichola Sturgeon.

Boris meanwhile, has rumbled through the last eventful week of his life looking, as ever, like something dragged off an overhead zip line.

The hair artfully mussed, the shirt collar carefully dishevelled. This is the look meticulously honed to send the message, good old bumbling Boris. What a card. The amiable man of the people.

Except that ambitious, old Etonian Boris is far from the bloke next door. Like the rest of them, he is cut-your-throat avaricious for power. Which brings us to the knife man, Michael Gove. I do have time for Gove. I think he is a conviction politician.

In this particular instance however, I don't share his conviction.

He is demanding the full, unequivocal Brexit. Bearing in mind almost half the voting public voted remain, such intransigence plays badly.

But where Gove over-shot the runway entirely was with the very public knifing of Boris. A more savvy political player would have seen how that one was likely to play out in public perception.

Looking like a middle-aged harmless Harry Potter isn't going to save you when the public now visualise you in a toga with the bread knife dripping blood.

Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile... How long ago, it seems now, we were only arguing about Jeremy's tie.

Now all we can see is a man prepared to destroy his own party for his own self-interest. A man who lunges at journalists who ask impertinent questions.

Not a good look, Jeremy. Not a good look, any of them.

To some extent, politics has always been about self-promotion, ambition, personal advancement. Even with Winston.

But rarely has politics seemed so tawdry. So headless chicken. So self-serving.

And this at a time when leadership, integrity and some sort of cohesive strategy are desperately needed, when the voting public are looking for direction and assurance.

A voting public who are, let us not forget, unsettlingly divided.

Which is why it should worry us all that politicians are really not looking good right now.

Church burger pun gives us food for thought

Not a day passes, it seems, without yet another major legal battle over copyright.

The thought did occur to me as I drove past a church in Belfast the other day (I’ll not say where, just in case). Like many churches, this one favours those quirky promotional signs with clever puns designed to put bums on pews.

This one has a pic of a burger with a line about The Bigger King in familiar typeface. In copyright terms, it’s potentially a whopper.

But would the fast food giant make a meal of it?

Evans fails to select the right gear in time

The poor ratings for the new Top Gear are put down to many things ­— Chris Evans among them.

But as well as vying with The Antiques Roadshow (you take on collectible vase valuation at your peril, Chris), the series has also been up against it with the Euros.

Timing is everything in comedy, they say. As it turns out, timing is also pretty crucial when you’re taking over the wheel in a legendary and much-loved show and you’ve less charisma than an 18th century inkwell.

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