The man is in the bag
Yup, you read it correctly. I am going to be voting for Britain's Next Top Model, sorry I mean Prime Minister, based on his association (real or fictional, this is politics remember?) with manbags. I know, a big part of the problem with manbags is the term, somehow sounding oddly testicular, although it is better than mixing "man" and "purse" and getting "murse." And as with most fashion movements, gay and Continental men march in the vanguard and have played a big part in bringing manbags in from the cold. But please do not confuse our intent: we are not looking to subvert the uber-male world of politics by instituting female criterion; rather, we are merely exposing the underbelly of what has become a male London fashion craze.
Not simply to be seen within trendier locations of Brixton or Belsize Park, the manbag is here and highly visible. Remember the World Cup and that Gucci bag worn onto the plane by Becks? Although it must be said, the man who popularised "manbag" is Joey from Friends. It was the episode where Joey splurges on a unisex handbag, gets mocked by Ross and Chandler and, fatally for manbags, the moral of the story is: carry a bag and you will not get the job. Joey's devotion to his "man bag" ended up costing him an audition because he is so reluctant to put it down that the director believes he is a bag salesman.
But that was 1999 and this is 2006, can we apply the same principles to the job of Prime Minister? I would (not) hesitate to say yes. But mind you this is pure speculation as I have seen neither Brown nor Cameron touting a manbag. Well, unless you consider Gordon's phone-box red, Budget Day briefcase. Ah yes, and herein lies the female (and alpha male) prejudice towards manbags: they are never worn equally.
Which is why I believe there is no longer any doubt: Brown will be the next PM. Why such centainty, you ask? Because it is all too easy to picture crunchy conservative Cameron cycling in from Notting Hell touting an over the shoulder canvassed wash messenger bag. And that hypothetical image is, I am afraid, as close to political suicide as fashion can ever bring a man. Perhaps David Beckham can just about get away with it - perhaps - but he is an avowed metrosexual international icon, and he lives in Madrid. Cameron is none of the above. And, more importantly, Gordon Brown would never try to be.
And there is also a more fundamental reason behind why I can't envision Gordon Brown carrying a manbag. This may seem sexist but there is a natural biological male aversion to carrying manbags. And it's not because they end up leaving them in the pub. It's because they make them feel more vulnerable. (Just think the pain experienced when the vital 'manbags' get hurt and you can understand why men want to limit external baggage). So call Gordon boring, call him staid, or just leave it at Scottish. To me, he is one manbag free and in this age of political muckraking: strength is where it is at.
But, men, if you are still confused about the manbag dilemna, let us decode it female style here :
1) Rucksack. Passable. Provided you are in school, in a trade, in the public sector (see we can extend our charity if need be), or just need somewhere to stash your trainers, sandwiches and copy of The Sun.
2) Briefcases, laptops, courier bags. Acceptable. They do a stated thing.
3) Any satchel with a canvas strap worn across the shoulder. Now I know I may be demonised for this but please men, 'Just Say No' to messenger manbags. We expect to look down and see you in flip flops, which we have already said is a menaissance menace. Only Santa can get away with the over shoulder look; well, and any blokes wearing cargos and part of an organised military regiment.
But if you absolutely must, we can just about tolerate (because we want one ourselves) Mulberry's Alfie bag. Topman does cheaper imitations.