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24 December 2009

Top 10 Politicians’ Christmas cards

The Staggers verdict on cards sent from seats of power around the world

By Brenda Goh

It’s that time of the year again, when politicians carry out their festive duty.

Politicians being politicians, few shy away from such a valuable message-sending opportunity. The cards range from the political to the progressive, from those that double up to benefit charity to others that remain ambiguously open to interpretation.

Scroll down for a New Statesman look at politicians’ Christmas cards from Britain and abroad.

1. From the US president, Barack Obama, and the first lady, Michelle:

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Non-religious and stately. The message of the Obamas’ first Christmas card — “May your family have a joyous holiday season and a new year blessed with hope and happiness”, signed by Barack and Michelle Obama — was apparently important enough to be discussed in Congress. Well, at least now we know what they’ve really been doing with their time.

2. From the Canadian Liberal MP Scott Brison:

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From the sound of it, there really shouldn’t be that much fuss about this card, which Brison sent to 5,000 of his friends and constituents. Gorgeous landscape, adorable golden retriever, happy good-looking couple — but this is also known as the “Brokeback Brison” card because Brison is Canada’s first gay MP in a same-sex marriage. Since a story about the card ran, it has had an overwhelmingly homophobic response. The Globe and Mail news website, for one, had to shut down its comments section for the story.

Calling foul against critics is Brison, who protests: “I’m not the first politician to have a family picture on a Christmas card.”

Fair enough.

3. From the Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd:

kevinrudd1

Another one to stay away from religious references is Rudd’s. This does it in “good leftist style”, says a man who received the card, Jon Ray. Possibly the strangest of the lot, it makes no mention of Christmas but instead features one of Brisbane’s CityCat ferries, and the names of the city’s suburbs.

Psychologists and card scrutinisers, feel free to give your verdict on this one.

4. From Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

GBrown1

From 10 Downing Street comes this ambiguous card from Gordon Brown, who chose to feature a photograph taken by 19-year-old Jordan Mary, winner of the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year.

It hasn’t gone down that well with critics. David Breaker, who gave the card a 1/12 rating, writes:”Surely it’s never wise in politics to be involved with anything greatly diminished and hanging by a thread in a cold, frosty environment, populated only by prickly and poisonous things, all of which will be gone in the New Year?”

5. From the former prime minister Tony Blair:

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He may now “do God”, but Tony Blair chooses to steer clear of religion, going for the narcissist’s fallback option of printing one’s picture on the cover.

6. From the Commons Speaker, John Bercow:

Bercow

Another Godless card yet again, posted on Guido’s blog. Sweet kids, boring card.

7. From Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond:

ScotlandSalmond

The card’s cover, featuring a painting by the artist Gerard Burns titled A New Journey, has riled critics with its independence innuendo.

Said the Tory whip David McLetchie: “Alex Salmond is trying to politicise Christmas, having already attempted to politicise the Saltire, Scotland’s national days and our children’s education. His obsession with independence is blinding him to reality.”

But kudos to Salmond for managing to portray McLetchie and other critics as overworked grumps.

Replied a spokesperson for Salmond: “Messrs McLetchie and Rumbles should lighten up and get with the Christmas spirit — they are obviously badly in need of a festive break.”

At least proceeds from sales of the painting will be going to charity.

8. From the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg:

Clegg1

Smart move by Clegg to feature a innocently-sweet-and-all-things-nice drawing by his sons Antonio, eight, and Alberto, five.

“It is very sweet,” mused the clinical psychologist Mr Bracey to the Times. “It’s not conveying any political messages and is just simple and naive.”

To criticise Clegg’s card aesthetic quality would be Scrooge-like.

9. From the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson:

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Daredevil Johnson is the only one of the lot who has dared to say “Merry Christmas”. London bus users may disagree.

10. From the Conservative leader, David Cameron:

Cameron2

Sending a request to Santa here, Dave?

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