Thatcher’s wardrobe

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Margaret Thatcher trying on hats in her home in 1971. Photo: Selwyn Tait/Sygma, via Corbis

I’ve previously written about how how a speaker looks is an element of their persuasiveness and this week I thought I’d apply this to Margaret Thatcher (I’ve also written about how she lowered the pitch of her voice to appear more credible).

This comes in the week that a US survey on media coverage of women candidates found that when the media focuses on a woman candidate’s appearance she pays a price in the polls. This finding held true whether the coverage of a woman candidate’s appearance was framed positively, negatively or in neutral terms.

As we have seen in the coverage of Margaret Thatcher this week, a lot of attention was give to how she appeared. The most authoritative studies of her are by Dr Daniel Conway at Loughborough University, in particular his article Margaret Thatcher, Dress and the Politics of Fashion where he states that “Thatcher moved beyond the classed and gendered constraints of her background, learned and adapted her dress to suit the political occasion and sought to include dress as a legitimate political concern.”

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Review: Children and Families Bill debate

screen-shot-2013-02-27-at-00-53-58.pngEva Percy, part of the Speeching research group, writes about her recent visit to the House of Commons.

On the evening of the 25th February I had the privilege to enter into Parliament. Within the Parliament buildings there was a sense of authority and importance, a sense of power. The infrastructure oozed history, as it dawned on me that within these buildings history was made. Individuals walked with determination and vigour. As I walked through Westminster Hall, on my way to the House of Commons, I felt awe and amazement wash through me. As I went to collect my ticket for access into the Special Gallery, I felt excitement and curiosity.

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Repetition, repetition, repetition

On Tuesday 5 February, MPs backed a bill to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales. A number of MPs made impassioned speeches in support and opposing the bill but one that stood out for me was by David Lammy, MP for Tottenham who drew a parallel between race equality and equality for for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. It stood out as a good example of some of the points I am interested in in this project; an example of repetition, an example of movement and an example of identity.

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Singing and Dancing Speeches

12692.jpgSpeeching is a project to find different ways to understand political speeches, not just with our eyes, ears and brains, but by using all of our bodies.

Speeching comes from a wider interest of mine in understanding democratic politics from the perspective of the body – what actually happens physically when we vote, when we demonstrate or when we sign a petition? Perhaps by understanding – or even changing – democratic politics at this level we can find new ways of doing things before we can think of them rationally.

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