'Succumb to my revolutionary allure,' say Nicola Sturgeon's extremities
You might think today’s Daily Mail headline — ‘Never mind Brexit, who won legs-it!’ — is simply cheap, misogynistic posturing from a cheap, misogynistic newspaper.
But to Sarah Vine this is the stuff of serious journalism. And her 500-word article inside today’s Mail is, somehow, even worse than the front page it inspired.
Vine believes that yesterday’s meeting between the Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon was ‘a knockout victory for the PM’, but not because of the quality of her arguments, her resolve, or her politics. Rather, May is ‘stateswomanlike’ because of her ‘stylish navy jacket’, ‘patterned dress’ and ‘trademark leopard-print heels’ and ‘classic red nails’.
Oh, and her legs of course.
In Vineworld, what stands out about this meeting between two of the most powerful people in the country ‘are the legs — and the vast expanse on show.’
“There is no doubt that both women consider their pins to be the finest weapon in their physical arsenal. Consequently, both have been unsheathed.
“May’s famously long extremities are demurely arranged in her customary finishing-school stance – knees tightly together, calves at a flattering diagonal, feet neatly aligned. It’s a studied pose that reminds us that for all her confidence, she is ever the vicar’s daughter, always respectful and anxious not to put a foot wrong.”
So far, so vacuously offensive. The real rollercoaster begins when Vine moves on to the Sturgeon limbs, which rapidly morph into a strange metaphor for Scotland itself.
“Sturgeon’s shorter but undeniably more shapely shanks are altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed, with the dominant leg pointing towards her audience.
It’s a direct attempt at seduction: her stiletto is not quite dangling off her foot, but it could be. ‘Come, succumb to my revolutionary allure,’ she seems to be saying. ‘You know you want to.’
And there Sturgeon thought she was just sitting on a chair while having legs and wearing shoes.
Vine concludes that the entire debate over Scottish independence — the cut and thrust of economic argument, the appeal to conflicting national sentiments — has in fact been rendered unnecessary by this one photo.
The message to the Scottish electorate is clear. They have a simple choice: on the one hand the reliable, measured, considerate and cautious politics of Mrs May and the safety of a Union that has endured for 300 years – on the other a wild, dangerous leap into the unknown, a glorious moment of rebellion which could all too easily lead to a lifetime of regrets.”
Might as well call the referendum now. The Scottish people have all the information they need.
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.