I think I’ve been dressing down, and I must raise my game.
I know that we have much bigger fish to fry, and that there are enormous issues facing the nation, but I confess to seething in silence, as the Speaker gave his ruling last week: That now one might as well be naked in the Commons chamber -certainly as far as the neck is concerned.
I know that standards of dress change. There was a time when members would have sat fully hatted and cloaked, which would inappropriate nowadays, and ties, after all, are a relatively recent invention.
As members are elected, and speak as representatives of their constituents, I suppose they must have that right to speak, irrespective of how they have dressed for the occasion.
I do wonder however, how many of these iconoclasts dressed in ‘scruff order’ when they were campaigning for the votes of their constituents.
Are they showing due respect to their constituents by seeking to represent them whilst dressed in a fashion that lowers the tone in our institutions, and the respect in which they are held?
I think that dress codes remain important. Maintaining standards says something important about us. The impression that is created does still count.
It was whilst reflecting on my anger at the Speaker’s ruling that I suddenly recognised my own offence: I have been going to church on Sunday casually dressed, relaxed at not wearing the suit and stiff collars I have had on all the rest of the week. I may have even, on occasion, been in short sleeves. Now, that might be fine in evangelical churches where the liturgy is itself informal, but I am C of E, or -to use the appropriate cricketing metaphor- ‘middle and leg Christianity’. The Chairman of the Parish Council attends and is very properly turned out as one would expect of an English country gentleman. The Choir and Clergy make a tremendous effort, swathed as they are in quantities of haberdashery.
I wonder how much offence have my slack standards given over recent years?
I am resolved to reform, and dress smartly in future, but perhaps not the stiff collar.