Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
28 April 2021

Tony Blair’s hair calls for an intervention

This #EdBallsDay, a wild silver mullet reminds us how long it has been since New Labour’s prime.

By Freddie Hayward

Take out your party hats and head to the pub: today’s a day of celebration. It’s ten years since Ed Balls mistakenly sent the lonely words “Ed Balls” into the Twittersphere when trying to search for posts that included his name.

Every year since, people across the country have celebrated in their own way, some baking cakes, others writing poems. The UK has a measly eight bank holidays a year, one of the lowest in the world. What better way to celebrate Ed Balls Day than to make it the ninth?

It’s been quite the week for New Labour politicians driving online discourse. Tony Blair appeared on our TV screens yesterday (27 April) crowned with a wispy, white mane, looking like he’d just come from a Lord of the Rings fan convention. It wasn’t entirely clear whether he was aiming for Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins or a combination of the two, but the fact that English barbers have been open for over a fortnight suggests his new do is here to stay.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

His appearance has invited favourable comparisons to Back to the Future’s Doc Brown, AC Grayling, and Lyndon B Johnson in retirement.

 

Some saw Peter Stringfellow or Richard Branson in the face of the former prime minister. Others were reminded of Blair’s short-lived bid for rock ‘n’ roll stardom and wondered if his unexpected hairstyle signalled a comeback of his university band.

But he also bore an eerie resemblance to David Icke, a man who believes the world is run by lizards – perhaps Blair is trying to tell us something?

Or maybe this is part of his self-appointed role as guardian of the nation during the pandemic – the hair contributing to his elder statesman look. This new tactic might, however, prove counterproductive. Alastair Campbell has pointed out in the past that during the New Labour years taming Blair’s mop before interviews was critical to keeping attention on what he actually said.

Perhaps the former prime minister felt lockdown – plus 14 years out of office – presented an opportunity to grow out his locks in a way his old spin doctor would never allow. The media frenzy around his silver mullet suggests otherwise. His family should really stage an intervention, something you’d think Blair would welcome.