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Sexy MPs? That really would be quite a turn-off


Jim Shannon

Jim Shannon

Paul Faith

Jim Shannon

Cheap as chips, poor taste, bit of fun, trivialising serious issues ... whatever you think about the findings of the sexymp.com internet poll, you won't disagree with the following sentiment.

Poor Jim Shannon.

The Strangford MP came 648th in the vote. Out of 648 MPs in the House of Commons.

Mind you, his fellow Northern Ireland MPs can hardly crow. Our sexiest MP - er, North Antrim's Ian Paisley jnr - comes in at a modest 148, 12 places ahead of Sylvia Hermon. Third is East Londonderry's Gregory Campbell. As for the rest, well, they are in what footballers would call "the lower half of the table".

Another website determined that our wee parties occupied the bottom four places in an un-sexiness chart, with the SDLP being the least unsexy, then Alliance and DUP. Sinn Fein limped in as the least sexy of all.

Cue barbed comments about visits to the gym, too many Ulster fries and having to ship in cargoes of Botox.

Of course, the poor result could say something about the body politic here. Politics might be a career for the 'mature' person. It certainly passes the young (and by definition 'sexier') by. And when anyone does get a career in politics here, it lasts for hair-thinning, crow's-feet deepening decades.

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On the other hand, maybe we don't trust politicians who spend too much on moisturiser and Spanx knickers. Particularly the male ones. Maybe we want our MPs to be like the people - in all their pot-bellied, saggy-eyed glory.

Across the Irish Sea, politicians like Cameron, Miliband and Clegg are largely interchangeable. Youthful, presentable, smooth, generically handsome in a plastic, lifeless kind of way.

Still, the survey is one of those occasions when we are forced to recognise that our politics aren't like anyone else's on 'these islands'.

Even the mighty internet can't obscure the grim origins of our political life. Sure, Clegg and Miliband have ideological differences - haven't they? - but Nick, no more than Ed, did not spend his youth in prison, dodging gun attacks, or looking under his car. Ditto politicoes in the Republic ...

What they used to call 'sex appeal' is for politicians who really don't believe in anything any more and for societies where politics doesn't count any more.

But it still counts here. And, for as long as it does, our politicoes will be more like those grumpy anonymous premiers of bothered little states in eastern Europe, still hating each other, not killing each other and no one else really giving a damn.

It's just another reason why it's not a lot of fun being a public representative in Northern Ireland. After coming through all our other traumas, who really wants to read that they are 'less sexy' than a Tory junior minister? Or that some American thinks you're "wooden" and burdened with "an unpleasant public speaking voice" as happened to the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie during last week's Wikileaks exposes in this newspaper.

Of course, sexiness in politics has nothing at all to do with 'good looks'. It has to do, as anyone with any wit knows, with power. Pure and simple. Power made Hitler and Stalin irresistible to women. It made a modern demigod of JFK. Mrs Thatcher, famously had her admirers. Our politicians don't really have much of that raw commodity. And neither do the vast majority of MPs.

Showbiz types know they'll be derided for their looks. But councillors who got lucky with selection don't really expect to be measured against George Clooney?

On sexymp.com there is Michelle Gildernew's picture beside Labour's Jim Cunningham, beneath the headline: 'Which MP would you rather have sex with? Choose one'.

The website says it's all just a laugh.

Maybe it is. Somewhere.

But not here.

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