Weekend: Watching Me, Watching You; What's the Connection between Robbie Williams and Marilyn Monroe? and Just How Far Does Tony Blair Follow George W Bush? Paul Groves and Graham Kibble-White Find the Answers in the Subtle Art of Body Language on Page 44

The Birmingham Post (England), November 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Weekend: Watching Me, Watching You; What's the Connection between Robbie Williams and Marilyn Monroe? and Just How Far Does Tony Blair Follow George W Bush? Paul Groves and Graham Kibble-White Find the Answers in the Subtle Art of Body Language on Page 44


Byline: Paul Groves and Graham Kibble-White

Forget the ideology for a moment. Ignore the apparent blind faith in policies which many have long since been discredited.

Put aside, even, their fondness for looking to the heavens in search of a spot of divine guidance in times of trouble.

Instead, just focus on the way Tony Blair and George W Bush walk. Or, rather, watch the way in which the Prime Minister has copied the powerwalk of the US President.

Hands firmly to the side, arms swinging slowly, a purposeful and commanding stride, head held high, a determined and yet engaging smile. The message is clear - we are in control.

Watching them strolling side-by-side, it becomes more apparent how Mr Blair has changed his walking style to mirror Mr Bush.

But where did Mr Bush learn to walk in such a robust manner?

Contrary to some claims, it wasn't from a certain television advert featuring the loveable Duracell bunny - although there are some noticeable similarities in the way the clockwork rabbit powerwalks his way passed the opposition and the vigorous gait of the leader of the free world.

Rather the answer lies in body language. More specifically, it lurks with the experts who earn a healthy living advising the great and the good on how to carry themselves when they are in the public eye.

Policy advisers, economic and environment specialists, speech writers and fashion stylists all play a part in grooming politicians. But it is the body language aficionados who supply the icing on the cake.

Psychologist Simon Hammersley says it is clear that many politicians, Mr Blair included, have taken special notice of what President Bush does in public. Previous US presidents, particularly Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, have also been adept at using body language.

"Tony Blair has always given off this relaxed, confident demeanour and it was undoubtedly a big plus point for him when he was leader of the Opposition," says Simon.

"More recently, however, it is possible to see a change and when he is alongside President Bush that different approach is even more evident.

"The powerwalk is the obvious example. But there are also similarities in facial expressions and the use of hands when talking.

"It can be quite amusing because they are clearly attempting to get the upper hand and there are various gestures you can pick up when watching them that show how they are competing to be the most powerful, or most in control.

"That distinctive walk is one. Always facing the camera and getting the other person to turn side on is another.

"Also, at the end of press conferences, watch carefully when they leave the room as the dominant character will manoeuvre themselves to ensure they can guide the other person out by placing their hand on the other's back - it is almost as if they are pushing them out of the way and saying: 'I'm in charge, don't forget it.' "This isn't just about Mr Blair though because most senior politicians now work hard on their body language skills because they are virtually in the spotlight 24/7 these days."

There are some notable exceptions. Is it really possible that our snarling, pitbull of a Deputy Prime Minister has been counselled on his body language?

Politicians are merely playing catch-up with those who inhabit the superficial world of celebrity. Actors, television presenters, reality TV stars and manufactured pop performers have all taken lessons on how to sit, stand, walk, wave, smile, laugh, shake hands, get into a car, get out of a car, pose on a red carpet and manipulated us all into thinking they are the Beautiful People.

Which is where that seemingly unlikely link between pop star Robbie Williams and Marilyn Monroe emerges. Model turned body-language expert Judi James has the answer. As she prepares to return to our screens with a new series of Naked Celebrity, on Five from Thursday, she's getting excited about what's in store for viewers.

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Weekend: Watching Me, Watching You; What's the Connection between Robbie Williams and Marilyn Monroe? and Just How Far Does Tony Blair Follow George W Bush? Paul Groves and Graham Kibble-White Find the Answers in the Subtle Art of Body Language on Page 44
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