David Cameron's airbrushed poster: part three

Labour HQ releases its own version as part of a new strategy

labour cameron

The poster, the poster, the poster. The poster just won't die.

It has a lot to do with this website, MyDavidCameron (click on it -- it's excellent), which has collated some of the best efforts at remodelling the Tory leader's 15-foot election poster, and provides a template that allows you to have your wicked way with it.

Childish? Perhaps. Funny? Definitely. Even Labour HQ has got in on the action, inspired by the viral success of this website and the plethora of sarcastic slogans sitting next to Cameron's eerily smooth face. (Here's a cracker: "I love the BBC so much, I want to cut it up into little pieces and give it to all my friends.")

In what is probably a slightly less controversial line of attack than the whole Eton thing, Gordon Brown went hard on the airbrushing today at PMQs. Some highlights:

"If you can't get your photo right, it's pretty difficult to get your policies right."

"He's getting even much redder than he is on his poster. What you see clearly is not what you get."

"His airbrushed poster had better lines on it than the lines he's giving today."

Labour's home page now features the party's very own version of the poster (see above). Possibly not as funny as the Elvis version (but then, I have a puerile sense of humour). Yet there's a serious point to be made here. James Kirkup, blogging at the Telegraph about Brown's comments, asks whether "Labour's strategists have decided that Mr Cameron's I-am-the-message campaign is vulnerable".

The presidential-style poster was, presumably, a response to the fact that the Cameron brand consistently leads over the Conservative one. The obvious airbrushing provides, for the opposition, a useful political metaphor for dissembling, concealing the truth. It will be interesting to see whether this line of attack has any real impact on voters.

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

 

 

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

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.