Downing Street today released a set of photos of Prime Minister Gordon Brown enjoying a series of vigorous outdoors activities while on a family break during the parliamentary recess, in a move which has drawn comparisons with Vladimir Putin’s latest outdoor adventure photoshoot.
In Russia, shots of Putin, stripped to the waist, riding a stallion through scenic Russian countryside, and swimming powerfully in icy cold rivers, led to a supportive press running glowing commentaries suggesting he was the politician many men aspire to be, and women to be with. ‘Who’s to say these spontaneous photos of Gordon, string-vest bared for all to see, masterfully trotting a donkey down Blackpool beach won’t inspire similar feelings?’ asked a Number 10 insider.
In the candid collection of snaps, a clear message emerges of a Prime Minister who considers himself destined to lead, and more than a match for the challenges ahead. And it has already inspired many in his cabinet to rally to the cause: “The shot of Gordon in his fly-fishing waders, striding out into the water with the sun in the background is very poignant — here is a man alone with his thoughts, in harmony with nature and yet taming its awesome power,’ commented an admiring Alistair Darling. ‘I knew then he was the right man to guide our party and this country through our current hardships, as surely as he skilfully netted those tadpoles and guided them into that jam jar.’
Not all the shots have been a success however, with a representative of the Prime Minister forced to clarify that the inflatable armbands in the photo of Brown in the wave pool at Center Parcs, ‘were for insurance and health and safety purposes only’ and that the PM ‘is clearly waving happily in these pictures not, y’know, the other thing.’
Meanwhile, Brown is not the only international leader to follow in the footsteps of Putin by allowing a camera to demonstrate to their voters the qualities that make them natural leaders. In a moody black and white video, President Sarkozy of France was recently seen on stage dueting with his wife Carla Bruni to Serge Gainsbourg’s classic, Je T’Aime, while Silvio Berlusconi released an extensive portfolio of pictures from his vacation at his villa in Sardinia. However, these photos of the 73-year-old Italian Prime Minister and his youthful companions have so far only been made available in ‘specialist’ shops in areas of Amsterdam.