Forget tax cuts, AMANDA PLATELL on the cut that’s got Westminster talking: It’s the rise to power for Labour’s leading women

Before Margaret Thatcher’s groundbreaking trip to Iran as opposition leader in 1978, she asked the British ambassador to provide her with a “good local hairdresser” and a set of heated Carmen curlers.

Not even delicate foreign negotiations distracted Ms. T. from her coiffed bob. She viewed it as a symbol of her strength – a secret weapon in her armory.

So are we seeing history repeat itself with Labor’s top women having their shaggy, frizzy locks chopped off one by one?

First, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves unveiled her new hairstyle at this year’s Labor conference: a brunette bob so shiny you needed sunglasses.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liz Kendall has chopped off her long hair and replaced it with a razor-sharp bob, in a trend first highlighted on BBC TV’s Have I Got News For You.

So did Labor’s culture, media and sport spokesperson, Thangam Debbonaire, with an even shorter – dare I say sportier – look.

Labor spokesperson for culture, media and sport, Thangam Debbonaire. I also did a bob

Welsh Shadow Minister Jo Stevens' hairstyle is slightly longer and is more flattering on a mature face

Several women at the top of the Labor Party have opted for a bob haircut in recent weeks

57-year-old Welsh shadow minister Jo Stevens’ hairstyle is slightly longer and is more flattering on a mature face.

Shadow education minister Bridget Phillipson opted for a cut as severe as befits a formidable headteacher, while Women and Equalities boss Anneliese Dodds opted for a short, curly bob.

Of course they would all vehemently deny it, but it seems like they have followed the rules set by their nemesis Maggie.

I’m sure they would argue that they are instead taking a cue from the most successful Labor politician of recent years – former deputy prime minister Harriet Harman.

Perhaps Labour’s positive poll result has given them a touch of power and made them refine their approach.

Studies have shown that women with short hairstyles are perceived as more serious, focused, efficient and professional – and less sexy.

Celebrity hairstylist Julia Carta says: “More precise styles give the impression that women can make it in the male world of politics.”

“These women run the world. They don’t want people to be distracted by their hair, so sharper blackouts help ensure they are taken seriously.”

The bob haircut first became a popular style in the 1920s. During World War I, women who were enrolled in labor for the first time soon found that long lockdown periods were no longer comfortable.

A shorter cut symbolized women’s emancipation and individuality and marked the emergence of the early feminist movement.

Labour's top brass is perhaps the party's most successful politician in recent years - former deputy prime minister Harriet Harman (pictured)

Labour’s top brass is perhaps the party’s most successful politician in recent years – former deputy prime minister Harriet Harman (pictured)

The new haircut trend has been compared to Playmobil figures

The new haircut trend has been compared to Playmobil figures

Decades later, the style had become so popular that toy companies like Playmobil began offering bob cuts to dolls. Have this group of Labor women rediscovered their “girl power”?

Maybe I’m reading too far into it. Maybe they’re just being thrifty and using the same budget hairdressing salon in Parliament that the Tories’ Ann Widdecombe frequented. After all, a bob is the easiest cut to achieve on a politician’s schedule.

But then female Tory MPs appear to have ditched the short hairstyle in favor of more modern, fashionable hairstyles.

Take, for example, the voluptuous expression on Education Minister Gillian Keegan’s face. Or the auburn curls of Science Minister Michelle Donelan.

Or MP Mims Davies, who revealed she opted for a short “political haircut” when running for Eastleigh in 2015, but then two years later realized she didn’t need a severe hairstyle to “fit in”.

One thing is certain: deputy union leader Angela Rayner has not joined the Bob Set. She proudly clings to her gorgeous red Rapunzel curls. I’m told she feels like they give her strength.

Emma Colton

Janice Dean is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Janice Dean joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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