David Cameron: supermodel

Was the giant poster of the Tory leader airbrushed?

I'm sorry to bring up The Poster again, I really am, but bear with me (click here to see it in all its glory). The first thing that struck me when I saw it was not the pointedly presidential tone of the personal pronoun in "I'll cut the deficit", not the echoes of Margaret Thatcher in "We can't go on like this", not even the sheer size of it. I was utterly distracted by something else: David Cameron appears to be wearing foundation -- lots of it.

But it turns out I underestimated things. Today's Daily Mail gives us this nugget:

Tories denied suggestions that the photograph -- which will feature on hundreds of 15ft-wide posters as part of a £500,000 nationwide advertising campaign -- had undergone major airbrushing to enhance Mr Cameron's appearance.

But an official conceded there may have been minor touching up.

The accusations are flying thick and fast -- were his cheekbones enhanced? His colour changed? Some excess pounds shaved off? Sunder Katwala casts doubt on whether that bouncy black hair is au naturel, while Sam Coates calls for the original photo to be released in the interests of transparency, though he quotes a spokeswoman as saying: "I can confirm that nothing fiddled around with cheekbones, Adam's apple or slimming him down." (I love it -- so hard-hitting. I bet that wasn't what she thought working in politics would involve.)

But don't worry, Dave, you're not alone -- other politicians have been busted succumbing to the tempation of airbrushing, too.

Tony Blair appeared to have undergone the magic Photoshop treatment (or found the formula for eternal youth -- anything is possible) when he appeared on the cover of Men's Vogue in 2007 (picked up, again, by the airbrushing vigilantes at the Daily Mail):

blairMS1108_468x630 

And spot the difference here -- a photo of Nicolas Sarkozy sans love handles was printed in a magazine, coincidentally owned by one of his friends.

news-graphics-2007-_643745a

I must point out, though, that neither of these photos was actually used for election material. So I'll add my voice to the calls for the real photo. Come on, Dave, show us your Adam's apple!

 

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Boris Johnson's "juddering climax"? Don't let it distract you from his record as mayor

As Johnson finishes his term as mayor of London, his own parting shot leaves this mole feeling cold.

Initially, the feeling down here in the Mole townhouse was that Boris Johnson's "Operation Juddering Climax" tweet wasn't worth giving airtime to.
 

After all: it's an attention-seeking device as old as the hills. Sex sells; unfortunately, so does the soon-to-be-former Mayor's brand of weird bombast. So it's not surprising some press officer realised if you can get the voters to imagine Johnson in gaudens (see, Boris, bit of Latin for you there!), they'll get distracted. At the very least, it'll rechannel their disgust so they're not thinking about the fact he's a man whose past achievements include such gems as calling black people “picanninies” and, recently, suggesting “part-Kenyan” Barack Obama may have an “ancestral dislike” of the British empire.

Like a dead cat, once the possibility of an active penis is on the table people tend to get distracted.

So yes, reading Johnson's account yesterday did feel a little like supervising a class of fourth-formers who have just discovered euphemism and can't stop slipping it into their answers in class, continuing long after it stops being funny, massive shit-eating grins on their faces all the time. The temptation is always to ignore it, in the hope they'll get bored with their own supposed cleverness.

But it's actually more sinister than that. Because when Boris pulls this sort of sniggering schoolboy rhetoric out about the "climax" of his mayoralty, what he's actually doing is urging you to forget the stray pube of his water cannon, the crumpled tissue of his awful, boiling buses and the crusty sock which is his environmental legacy.

Well, here at the NS we believe a gentleman should always offer to sleep in the wet patch. So here, as a parting gift of sorts, is a short selection of some things you might remember Boris for:

The bus stock whose internal temperature “breaches legal limits for livestock”

Championed the contentious Garden Bridge

Installed a cable car that is used by fewer passengers than London’s, er, 400 busiest bus routes

Abused his planning power in the mayoral office in what the Guardian called “an assault on democracy”

Spend over £200,000 on two second hand water cannon from Germany – which he’s not allowed to use

That's that done. This mole's off for a cigarette.

I'm a mole, innit.