The leaking of a confidential document offering advice to candidates in the impending council elections has led to red faces in the Scottish Labour hierarchy, with accusations of ‘rampant sexism’ and ‘an obsession with facial hair’.
The leaflet, seen by The Scottish Reportage, is entitled “Appearance and Electability: Context is Crucial” and contains advice on “embodying the brand”, including suggestions that “neatness and cleanliness, including regular washing and the use of inoffensive but not overpowering deodorants and perfumes,” is essential during campaigning, for “activists but especially candidates.”
“Body odour has been proven to be a pungent factor in the doorsteps,” the leaflet states, “but appearance is crucial. First impressions last and first and foremost your face is your passport to election.” Men should consider carefully “whether moustaches or beards are appropriate for your demographic,” and be aware that “leadership precedent” may not be sufficient reason to adopt a more hirsute appearance.
“What has been called the ‘Corbyn Growth’ may be attractive to many, particularly those with questionable chins, but research shows it does not play well in certain areas. Remember the ‘Darling Morningside Effect’ in which the removal of a beard was deemed necessary to achieve anything beyond basic parliamentary representation.”
However, in some geographical contexts, beards “or even groomed unshavenness” can be effective electoral tools “offering identification with minority groups such as hipsters, and Muslims.”
For women, the wearing of “skirts, dresses or shifts” may be preferable to trousers, “especially jeans” particularly in traditional Highlands and Islands constituencies, “where Free Presbyterian and Free Church voters predominate. It is worth noting that for some, the wearing of trousers by women is a blasphemy against Biblical teaching, especially in Gaelic.”
Kilts should be avoided by all genders, the document says, “due to cultural appropriation of this garment by the Scottish National Party,” and for women, “the tailoring and cutting of skirts in the kilt form – ie with rear pleats, wrapping fold and indicative pin” could cause “confusion and uncertainty during doorstep discussions.”
“This is ridiculous,” said prospective Labour candidate for Highland Council Ramases Gilfillan McDonnell (27). “I have worn the kilt all my life for ventilative health reasons and see no reason to abandon it now. Indeed, my doctor would advise against it. And what is this obsession with facial hair? I have been growing my beard for several months and already it is bigger than that David Torrance’s. Which I think says something. David may have begun trying to imitate the Corbyn Growth, but surely it has become something else now entirely. A symbol.”
Edinburgh Labour activist Rosemary Invictus-McLachlan, defiantly wearing a pair of vintage Wranglers, said:
“It’s rampant sexism from the scaly Old Labour dinosaur crocodiles. I take great exception to being told what or what not wear, or to the intrusion into the personal which this leaflet represents. On International Women’s Day, surely it behoves the Labour Party to respect the decision of women, made intelligently and indeed contextually, on clothes? But there are far more important things to talk about.”
No official response was available from the Scottish Labour press office, which was understood to be “involved in a textile rebranding awayday”.