What is the status of the 12-year-old Samantha Cameron photo shoot that’s been sashaying its way across the news agenda over the last 24 hours? Has an enemy found something new to embarrass the Tories with or is this just another shot across the bows of the upcoming election by the party’s spin doctors? Have these photos really been in an attic all this time?
I’d say not. It strikes me, looking at this morning’s excitable ruminations on SamCam’s modelling “past” in the press, that this is a sure-fire PR distraction from Lord Ashcroft and other pre-electoral woes, that the Tories will revel in the “slightly racy” past of SamCam at the expense of having to worry about her husband’s policies and his party’s veracity.
The Mail’s Amanda Platell doesn’t think that it will hurt. The Mail’s subs may have suggested, at the top of her comment this morning on the story the Mail on Sunday broke, that the photo shoot would get the Tory old guard spluttering, but Platell’s prose purples to the point that you would imagine that all they’ll really be doing is salivating.
“The resulting look is more flirtatious than outright raunchy,” writes Platell. “Think Sharon Maughan in her Gold Blend coffee advert days – with hair piled high and outfits that are part dinner party minx, part Boden Barbie. And those legs… dear God, those legs! Thoroughbred filly that she is, Sam’s are a fine-fetlocked pair that would not look out of place passing the Cheltenham finishing post. Jealous? Moi? You bet.”
“These pictures are an excellent mix of glamour and politics in the run-up to the election,” Sam Barcroft, of the Barcroft Media agency, told the Times. “It is an opportunity for picture editors to turn politics, which is often slightly dull, into something slightly more fragrant.”
My issue with all of this is that we need to be voting for politicians and policies, not the spouses of the party leaders. However sharp, alluring or glossily packaged they may be, if they’re not actually standing for parliament they should not be occupying the front pages in a bid to turn the tide of an election. Image has been all in politics for too long – what we actually need is substance.