Corbyn wins Parliamentary Beard of the Year2016 was a year of ups and downs for Jeremy Corbyn. Overwhelmingly supported by the Labour Party members and re-established as leader but a near victim of a coup from the MPs and generally ignored by the press. Well, generally ignored by the press apart from achieving the dubious title of Parliamentary Beard of the Year.

Pogonophobia still prevails

Whilst at first sight this might seem a little frivolous, consider that sporting a beard is still regarded as contentious and possibly career damaging affectation by many. Mrs Thatcher was a pogonophobe to such an extent that there wasn’t even the slightest hint of a moustache, let alone a beard amongst her many ministers. Given the current climate of Tory nostalgia for the Thatcher years, along with her influence and the obvious comparisons with Theresa May then maybe there is still a lingering concern in the political classes that the beard is something to “hide behind”, a kind of cheap advisor and PR Manager rolled into one self spun creation. Stephen Crabbe fell at the first hurdle in the leadership race. He may have had other issues but he was the only candidate with a beard!

Beards work if you’re on the left

On the other hand, (the left one) it’s actually slightly easier to wear a beard with pride. You have to look no further than Karl Marx and Fidel Castro with their full luxurious manes. The international left embrace the beard clearly but here in the UK we prefer a subtler liberal facial adornment. Che Guevara perhaps had the right idea with his 3 day stubble, a look that had true international and pan-political appeal. Maybe that’s why he’s the communist poster boy and not Castro, Marx or any of the clean shaven Maoists for generations of students. Corbyn might have got a lot wrong this year in terms of managing his image but there can be no doubt he’s nailed the beard. It’s neither too old nor too young, just right, left alone. If you'd like to emulate Corbyn's beard, but struggle to muster up any facial hair, why not consider a beard transplant?

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By Ian Watson

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