Beards make a coalition comeback among MPs
- 13 September 2011
- From the section Wales politics
I know what you're thinking. Why has an ambitious Tory MP like Stephen Crabb grown a beard?
In Margaret Thatcher's day, the prime minister's dislike of facial hair led to accusations of "pogonophobia" - defined as the persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of beards.
It is indeed hard to recall a ministerial face from the Thatcher years that was not clean-shaven and designer stubble was said to present a glass ceiling when it came to promotion.
David Cameron, though, calls himself a liberal Conservative, and the facially hirsute are still able to prosper. Perhaps it's buried in the coalition agreement. If you believe in stereotypes, a ban on beards would offend the Liberal Democrats as much as a law against sandals although I cannot think of a bearded Lib Dem in government.*
As my photograph shows, Mr Crabb returned from the summer recess sporting a fresh set of whiskers. The beard has apparently won mixed reviews among his nearest and dearest.
Ah, I almost forgot. The lady in the photograph is Alize Mounter, better known as Miss England. Except she is Welsh - the Roehampton University journalism student hails from Pontypridd.
She visited Westminster as a guest of government whips, including Mr Crabb, and was briefed on the work of parliament ahead of prime minister's question time last week.
[*Update: Apologies - Anthony Pickles e-mails to remind me of the very bearded Liberal Democrat deputy leader of the Commons, David Heath]