Former deputy prime minister John Prescott has said that he told Ed Milliband to wear a jacket, as all leaders should be seen in jackets. I quite agree. Before he became prime minister, David Cameron went through a phase of wearing nothing but off-the-peg, low-cost suits from Marks & Spencer's. And he looked a bit naff. I have nothing against M&S suits, or suits under £50, but they are never going to look very good. On anyone. My only talent in life is being able to look good in a suit, so I feel I can speak with some conviction here.
For someone who is seeking to be elected into high office, one must look the part. Cameron pre-2010 election looked like a geography teacher in a low-ranking public school. Mercifully, the suits were apparently thrown out once he was (sort of) elected into Number 10 and he now wears much better fitting suits.
What riled me most about Cameron's rather pathetic attempt in the wardrobe department was that he clearly thought that by wearing high street suits he'd automatically become 'one of the people' and blend in with Mr. Mondeo and Essex Man. We all know he went to Eton and Oxford - trying to hide it is quite sad. The British public doesn't really care about someone's background, but try to disguise it and you open yourself up for ridicule.
It's the same with Red Ed. He will always be a bit gawky, socially awkward and disconnected from normality. He's a politician. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that by taking off your jacket you will fit in more. If anything, you'll just stand out.
If you want to be a leader, you have to look and sound like a leader. Margaret Thatcher changed her hair and voice to rise to power and she did okay because of it.
Suit jackets have been sticky issues for politicians in the past. At the last Olympic closing ceremony in Beijing, Boris Johnson was on stage with his suit jacket unfastened and came in for some sharp criticism. The etiquette rule here being that jackets are fastened when standing and unfastened when sitting. Two button suits should only be fastened at the top; three button suits should be fastened in the middle (top and bottom undone). And as for four-plus buttoned suits... burned, preferably.
Boiled down, what lessons can Ed Milliband take from all this? Wear your jacket and don't pretend to be something you're not.
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