Sunday, September 30, 2007

Purnell: seeing is not believing

It's not the crime of the century but James Purnell (the Blairite Culture Secretary - as in Tony Blair, remember him?) has been caught with his pants down. It seems he turned up late for a photo-op at Tameside Hospital and so agreed to "merging" a photo of himself with that of three other MP's who visited the hospital. The cack-handed result can be seen here. Purnell claims he thought "merging" meant that the two photos would be run side-by-side (sorry, James old chap, that's not what merging means). To clinch it, Purnell put the doctored photo on his own web-site for all the world as if it was the genuine article. Bang to rights, I'd say. A little embarrassing for the boy wonder since he has recently been criticising TV broadcasters over various phone-in scandals, et al (The most egregious of these obviously involved the misnaming of the Blue Peter cat. Callers voted to call it "Cookie" but this apparently is slang for the female genitalia, so they named the pussy Socks). Of course, this sort of thing is by no means new. During the last US Presidential election campaign a doctored photo showing John Kerry apparently speaking at an anti-Vietnam war rally alongside "Hanoi" Jane Fonda was widely published. And of course there is the infamous case of Trotsky, erased from history, as shown here. I think the main point here is that it shows Purnell lacking in the most elementary media-savvy (OK it shows he is a liar as well); he has been tipped as a future Labour Leader, but on this showing he is as dim as a 40-watt bulb (then again, there was Kinnock...)


Blogger yankunian said...

Hello. I've tried to email you but your address doesn't seem to be working? Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you knew you were nominated for "Best political blog" at this year's Manchester Blog Awards.

We hope you can come to the event next wednesday night at seven pm at Matt and Phred's on Tib Street in manchester. If you have any questions, please email me at themanchizzle at gmail dot com.

All best wishes, and keep up the great work!


11:51 am  
Blogger skipper said...

According to Peter Hain on Any Questions, it was not Purnell but the hospital trust which posted the pic. and it really does seem a minor mis-demeanor compared with some.

8:40 pm  
Blogger Politaholic said...

Skipper, You may be right but I understood Purnell agreed to it. If I'm wrong I hold my hands up (but Peter Hain...a reliable source for this...?

Thanks for that. It's undeserved I think. There are quite a few much better Manchester blogs than mine. Maybe I will go to Matt and Phebs. Don't know what the problem with the e-mail address is; I'll look into it.

7:03 pm  
Blogger Politaholic said...

Skipper, further to this, the Guardian reported on Friday September 28 that: “A spokesman for the NHS trust claimed the addition of Mr Purnell's photo had been made with his permission. However, a spokesman for Mr Purnell said the minister had not agreed to the move…“ The Berwick Advertiser on September 30 also quoted a “spokeswoman for Mr. Purnell” who “…denied claims by the hospital that the Stalybridge and Hyde MP had agreed to the publicity still being "faked"…” A web-search shows numerous other papers reporting a denial by the Purnell people.
But then the Telegraph on October 1 reported: “A spokesman for the Trust said: "We decided to take a photograph of Mr Purnell in the same spot very shortly after and merge it with the earlier photograph, to which Mr Purnell kindly consented…A spokesman for Mr Purnell, who was promoted to the Cabinet in Gordon Brown's first reshuffle, said: "He knew they were going to merge those two photographs together but he thought it was for internal NHS use only. He didn't realise it was being sent to the local press. In retrospect it wasn't a great idea to photoshop the images but he didn't want to let anyone down."
Assuming these reports to be accurate, the Purnell team first denied that they knew about it, then decided to admit that they did know about it (which means the earlier denial was probably a lie). Note that in the later Telegraph report the Purnell spokesman explicitly says that Purnell himself knew about it (i.e. it wasn't just a team member acting without his knowledge). Presumably Purnell also authorised the subsequent denial, and later admission. As I say, it’s not the crime of the century…but the word “weasel” springs to mind…

9:09 am  

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