A sight for sore eyes? Nudity expert calls for naked parliament

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Shocking sights within the Palace of Westminster
Shocking sights within the Palace of Westminster

MPs should take inspiration from Whitehall's naked man protest by holding a parliamentary sitting without clothes, a nudity expert has said.

Philip Carr-Gomm, author of A Brief History Of Nakedness, made the eyebrow-raising suggestion in an interview with politics.co.uk after Whitehall was partially closed off by a naked protest.

"I think they should have at least one day in the Houses of Parliament where all the politicians are symbolically naked to demonstrate they have nothing to hide up their sleeves," he said.

Carr-Gomm said he doubted whether such an event would ever happen - and warned that the result could be offputting to voters.


But he argued that such a move held merit because it would help break the impression of politicians as "conniving" and "not up front".

Some politicians in predominantly Catholic countries like Spain and Poland have embraced nudity as a way of making similar points, Carr-Gomm claimed.

His proposal came as the naked man whose actions resulted in the closure of part of Whitehall today ended his three-hour vigil on top of a statue of the first Duke of Cambridge.

"It's too early to tell whether he's nutty," Carr Gomm said. He suggested that the naked man may have been motivated by a psychiatric phenomenon in which mentally disturbed people take their clothes off.

The alternative motives are either streaking, which is not usually prompted by political motives, or an outright protest.

"Nakedness as a wave of protest has a long and noble lineage, going back to an event that is not even real - Lady Godiva," he added.

Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish essayist and satirist, originally suggested a naked Westminster in 1833, during another period of political reform and frustration with the status quo in politics.

The proposal was also put to the US House of Representatives in 1986 as "the ultimate in transparency". It was rejected.

Nudity is not a complete stranger to parliaments around the world.

In April, a session of the Thai parliament was suspended when an image of a naked women appeared on monitors.

In September, a group of women demonstrated against abortion while leaving their clothes at home.

And back in May 2010, campaigner Alison Jackson succeeded in projecting a doctored image of former prime minister Gordon Brown on to Big Ben.

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