The eagerly awaited 2009 Government Charity Calendar went on sale yesterday sparking controversy in political circles about the decision to allow cabinet ministers to be photographed in the nude. The twelve images feature the major Labour ministers in ‘relaxed and artistic’ poses carrying out their ministerial duties completely in the buff.
One Tory MP said ‘This is yet another cynical bit of New Labour self-publicity if you ask me. The sight of Margaret Beckett is a challenge at the best of times, let alone when all she is wearing is a smile.’ But a Downing Street spokesman defended the Calendar saying ‘The shots are very tasteful. It was very courageous of members to pose naked for charity. We think that it shows our softer side.’
A particular favourite is Alistair Darling’s picture in which his modesty is protected by his famous budget briefcase, while the ensemble photograph for December, features the entire team sitting around the Cabinet Office table, taken only last week upon Gordon Brown‘s return from Afghanistan.
Husband and wife team Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper appear naked together in a ‘domestic setting’ while the shot of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith celebrating her stewardship of the police also stands out. A number of critics expressed their relief that at least John Prescott is no longer in the cabinet.
There was no word from Buckingham Palace on whether Her Majesty approved of the idea of her government being photographed in the nude. It is thought that the Queen might not mention the Government calendar because she did not want to give any publicity to the main rival to her ‘Royal Family Nude Calendar’ that goes on sale tomorrow.