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The photoshop fails of your favourite politicians

13 January 2019

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Australian PM Scott Morrison is no stranger to controversy, but this time it would be wrong to accuse him of putting his foot in it: in a bizarre instance of image manipulation, someone else appears to have done that for him. This week, a heartwarming photograph of Morrison and his family went viral for all the wrong reasons. The image, taken from Morrison’s official website, depicted the politician posing alongside his wife, children and dog, beaming into the camera against a backdrop of sunlit greenery. Innocent enough, you might think – until you looked at his feet.

Morrison’s gleaming white shoes were not only improbably clean, but appeared to have been carelessly jammed on to his legs with the aid of digital retouching – giving the impression that the prime minister had two left feet. To his credit, Morrison was quick to respond, tweeting a photo of his actual, less than sparkling sneakers.

Morrison joins an illustrious list of politicians who have sacrificed their dignity at the altar of Photoshop. Emmanuel Macron, for instance, received flack for the extensive retouching of his official presidential portrait; in 2007, then UK culture secretary James Purnell was pasted into pictures of the opening of a new development at a hospital, having turned up late to the actual event.

But none of these gaffes quite eclipses the efforts of Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey, who in the run up to the  2017 General Election had her Liberal Democrat challenger George Turner erased from a photograph of the candidates together at an event. A clever ploy indeed – or it would have been, had the digital whizz-kids not forgotten to get rid of Turner’s legs. Say what you like about Stalin, but at least he knew how to supervise an airbrushing job.

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