Monday, 24 April 2017

The physiognomy of politicians #4

What can we learn about Michael Gove when we look at him?

First off, he is a nerd. A total and utter swot. He has thick spectacles, his eyes often blankly lurch left-wards and right-wards and he speaks with a nasal, albeit plummy, voice. As he speaks, he does not move a limb in his body, nor exhibit any other kind of emotion. His protruding lips and his magnified, gyrating eyes make him look like a fish. 

So we can tell from his appearance that he semi-autistic. This accounts for his ideological inflexibility. He is a complete ideologue. He completely revamped the national curriculum, making it 'classical,' rigorous and doctrinaire. He is an economic liberal and wants to make large cuts to the public sector. He wants to privatise the NHS, though he is reluctant to admit to this when pressed. He wants to leave the European Union, bandying about populist rhetoric about 'taking back control.' He supported the Iraq war, even when it turned out to be a complete disaster that destabilised the Middle East. 

But let's cut him some slack. You can't accuse him of being inconsistent. He might well be a economic liberal, but he is also a social liberal. He was a very good justice secretary. He understood what his predecessor did not - that prisons are meant to reform citizens and turn them into better, more responsible citizens. They're not there to punish them. As such, he reinstated prison libraries. 

We can tell from his appearance that he is a bookish nerd. His favourite book is The Strange Death of Liberal England. He read a one thousand page biography of J. F. Kennedy whilst his wife gave birth. We can tell from his appearance that he is semi-autistic. Like most autistic people (like myself), he assumes that everyone should think the way he does. He was a 'clever dick' who received a comprehensive education but who nonetheless went to Oxbridge. As such, his experience should be comparable to any other lower middle-class or working-class kid out there. Those kids who live in council houses, play video games and watch trashy TV wouldn't at all struggle with Shakespeare or advanced mathematics because he didn't.

He has real reformist zeal. At times his rhetoric resembles that of a Labour education secretary from the 1960s. Anthony Crosland wanted to 'destroy every fucking grammar school in England,' even 'if it was the last thing he did.' Gove, likewise, believes in radical reform. This is why he irritated Theresa May, who deals with problem on an incremental basis. This is why she left him out of her cabinet. She also happened to find him to be a tad bit insufferable.

So we can tell that he is a nerd and and that he is semi-autistic, but how can we tell that he is a populist? Well, like all politicians he is shifty. When he is grilled about previous statements - such as the statement that he would never be prime minister, despite subsequently running for the position - he is really shifty. To his advantage, he does not look nervous. He does not stutter nor exhibit any emotion. His eyes keep gyrating as he talks complete and utter fabricated bollocks.

And this works to his advantage. He declares that 'people have had enough of experts.' He sensed the populism in the air and he sensed the mounting hatred against the Westminster elites. He sensed how people hate self-appointed experts pontificating to the working man as to how they really shouldn't vote for Brexit.

Yet this is a bookish man, who reads a 1.000 page book whilst his wife gives birth. This is a man who looks and sounds like a complete swot. What credentials does he have to be a man of the people? Indeed, what credentials does he have to say that we shouldn't have experts?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The physiognomy of politicians #3

What can we learn about Peter Mandelson, going by his appearance?

Well, to begin with, he is rather expressionless. He seems to amble about from place to place without exhibiting the faintest emotion. He seems slightly unhinged when he talks. As he talks, he appears to be suppressing details that he does not want to unleash upon the public.

And Peter Mandleson is the king of spin, the so-called 'prince of darkness.' He was the first ever 'spin doctor.' We could easily envision dwelling in a dark corner of a room, as he sips his tea and strokes his white cat. We can easily envision hundreds of his minions storming into this dark room with data, with news items, with gossip and with sleaze. He peruses all of this information with the same expressionless and hinged look. He peruses all of this information as he sips his tea and strokes his white cat.

In that very room, the true levers of power are wielded. In that room, spin is formulated. In that room, headlines are formulated. All of that data, news items, gossip and sleaze is condensed into a catchy headline that lands into the front page of every newspaper. 

Mandelson ambles around from place to place, with legions of press reporters following him closely. He is a highly effective and articulate communicator, as he manipulates their feelings and emotions. He tells him a given situation is such and such a way and should be resolved in this other way. The reporters believe him and write their given articles.

Mandelson has always been part of New Labour and has always sought to make it electable. He is the grandson of Herbert Morrison, a grandee of the 1945-51 government. Morrison was part of the right of the party and thought that the Labour party should end its obsession with class and appease the middle classes. His grandson Mandelson thought the very same thing in 1983, as it was clobbered on the back of a radical left-wing program. He joined Neil Kinnock's press team and sought to modernise the decimated party.

We can tell this when we look at him. Despite his emotionlessness, it looks like he is about to shoot off somewhere to manipulate outcomes. Despite the lack of expression, he appears to be restless. This is what he is suppressing all of the time - an endless onslaught of energy.

And he is still at it, even as a lord. He is apparently shuffling about in the background trying to end Corbyn's tenure. Whilst I myself am not the greatest fan of Mandelson's wing of the party, I am less of a fan of Corbyn's wing. Which is why I hope that he is brought down before the election this coming June.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The physiognomy of politicians #2

What can we ascertain about Theresa May's personality from her appearance? Well, like Gordon Brown, she is inscrutable. And that makes her an interesting physiognomic case study.

May is an introvert. We can tell that when we look at her. She often has a piercing look on her eyes, as she purses her lips. She seems to be a natural brooder. She does not seem to like you, or anyone else for that matter. She appears to be judging you from a distance. You are afraid that she might take your human rights away from you. You are afraid that she might look at your internet history, come to the conclusion that you are a dirty perv and launch an inquiry about it.

May is determined, cold and calculating. That is why she was the only Tory who emerged triumphant after Brexit. She 'just gets the job done.' Indeed, she lasted six full years as Home Secretary, while others wither away in that department. Now she has been entrusted with leading Britain over the cliff. We are most likely set for a Hard Brexit. As we leave the single market, as the pound weakens and as inflation soars, she shoots off to different parts of the world pleading for a trade deal. It doesn't matter if it's a pernicious, demagogic misogynist like Trump. It doesn't matter if it's a prolific violator of human rights like Erdogan. The people voted for this outcome and she wants to secure what's in the best interest for the country.

For all her coldness and determination, like Brown she also has asperities. She struggles to think on her feet. With her in the helm, you get the impression that Brexit negotiations would drag on for all perpetuity. The Conservative party has struggled to formulate tangible policies under her helm. We can tell that when we look at her. Even Corbyn can make her look fidgety. She often seems evasive. She can be prone to the occasional platitude, the most egregious one being 'we want a red, white and blue Brexit.' (What on Earth does that mean?) She often feels insecure in large crowds.

Yet, like Brown, she also cares about justice. This comes through mostly in her rhetoric, not in her voting record or her policies. Like Brown, her father was also a minister. She is a communitarian. Unlike Thatcher, she does believe that there is such a thing as society. She wants to help out those who are just about managing.

We can also tell from her physiognomy that she is stubborn and inflexible. When dealing with the opposition, she often scowls. She often juts her lips and grimaces. As such, she is also something of an ideologue. She wants to bring back grammar schools when the public has opposed them. Studies demonstrate that they are a barrier to social mobility. Her ideological leanings also make her pander to populism. She wants to control immigration figures, even if it irreparably harms the economy. She wants social cohesion at all costs. She panders to some nasty xenophobic sentiments.

She certainly is inscrutable. Yet, from this study, we have managed to deduce something about her personality. As Kenneth Clark said, she is a bloody difficult woman.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The physiognomy of politicians #1

What can we ascertain from Gordon Brown's personality by looking at him? He is dogged, principled, awkward, aloof, impassioned, a fighter, emphatic, tortured, evasive and, like all politicians, conniving.

Gordon Brown struggled to communicate his message. He literally saved the world. The banks collapsed and he bailed them out and, as a result, left a deficit. Yet, in PMQs, he accidentally declared 'I saved the world.' That, of course, sounds ludicrous. David Cameron could not prevent himself from ridiculing it. Gordon Brown remained solemn and serious as the entire house burst out laughing.

We can ascertain from looking at Gordon that he is a tragic figure, that he is doomed. He contrives a false smile for the cameras, as we can patently tell that he is suffering. He struggles to talk to common folk. He calls voters 'bigots.' He really, really shouldn't. If you want to win votes, that is certainly not a smart strategy. However, the woman he talked most certainly was a bigot.

Politics, ultimately, is dog-eat-dog? He should have made the killer move and called a snap election, when he had a lead in the polls, but he thought that it wasn't the ethical thing to do! And he lost the election! But Gordon cares about social justice! Gordon cares about equality! Gordon cares about public services! And he was wiped out!

He has an awkward gait. He seems to hunch his his back perpetually. He often sticks his tongue out into his cheek. He often hovers around awkwardly, not knowing what to do.

And this is why he lost. This is his greatest tragedy. He lost in an age completely obsessed with personality. Before politicians could win general elections and still have a completely awkward personality. The only thing that mattered back then was to get the blood job done. Just look at Attlee, for Christ sake. Just look at Heath. Also, back then, politicians could win general elections and also be studious academics. Gordon wrote his PHD thesis on the history of the Labour party. But now, how could a bookish weirdo dwelling in a dark corner of a university library possibly now lead a country?

And, still, if you ask me, his personality is a lot more interesting than most other politicians. Cameron is content-free. People say that Corbyn might be reckless and incompetent, but he at least has a personality. Well, he seems dead boring to me. He seems like a thoughtless chap who just jumps on the latest leftist bandwagon. He is a dull voluntarist who joins the latest fashionable cause. Gordon, as we can ascertain from his physiognomy, is a much more interesting character. He is the son of a minister, he is passionate and deeply cares about his party and his country. He reformulated the Labour party. It had to re-adapt to a globalised economy, which had done so much good for the third world.

We can tell from his physiognomy that he is the dual opposite of Tony Blair. Blair is all spin and charm. Blair also dragged the country into the harrowing Iraq calamity. And now the Labour party is in tatters and ruins. Gordon certainly didn't want that to happen.

And, as Cameron strolled into 10 Downing Street, Gordon walked away with his wife and beautiful boys (which, contrary to New Labour spin, he wanted to shield from the public eye, as he wanted to keep his publci and private life separate). He walked awkwardly, as usual. And we could tell from his physiognomy that so many dreams and aspirations evaporated at that very moment.