THE SEASON of goodwill may be well and truly upon us, but with a general election just six months away, Westminster’s political leaders clearly have more on their minds than tinsel and tradition.
A preview of the Christmas cards being sent out by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband semed to signal that the vying for the affections of voters has begun in earnest, with the cards offering clues as to how the party leaders want to be perceived ahead of May’s poll.
The trio seem to be playing it safe in the wake of widespread ridicule of Tony Blair’s festive effort this year and Nigel Farage’s typically provocative effort to curry favour with the electorate.
The Conservative leader has gone for the statesmanlike approach, with a picture of him and wife Samantha outside No10 Downing Street which shuns anything festive in favour of a group of Chelsea Pensioners.
Mr Miliband got the family together for a festive craft session and, in contrast with Mr Cameron’s suit, the Labour leader opted for the informality denoted by a comfortable jumper and roped in his sons Daniel and Samuel, as well as wife Justine, for the rather earnest portrait.
Mr Clegg and his wife Miriam took the most lighthearted approach, and on their card are seen larking about with a Santa hat in a series of retro photobooth-style pictures. Mrs Clegg, seen sporting a Christmas jumper alongside the Liberal Democrat leader, is said to have been inspired by the number of photobooths she has seen at weddings recently.
The trio seem to have avoided the pitfalls of seasonal missives for politicians, which were painfully highlighted by the reaction to the latest offering from Tony and Cherie Blair.
The image, which showed the ex-prime minister and his wife smiling awkwardly, was derided on social media for the distinct lack of festive cheer displayed by Mr Blair in particular, who appeared to be baring his teeth.
Mr Farage also came under fire after it emerged he was planning to use a cartoon of a “white van man” driving over the other three party leaders.
Clinical psychologist Ronald Bracey said Mr Cameron’s card showed he wanted to be “right in the middle of things”.
He added: “It’s quite telling that Downing Street’s number 10 appears almost like a halo above his head. In fact it’s not really a Christmas card at all. It’s more of a portrait of power – a statement about how he sees his role in the country and the world.”
He said of Mr Miliband’s card: “It’s quite sweet, but it’s not the kind of strong image you would associate with a leader. It’s quite childlike, actually.”
Of Mr Clegg’s offering he said: “He’s saying, ‘What will be, will be,’ and that there is more to life than politics.
“Rather than looking too serious, he’s being playful and he’s not too bothered whether people like it or not.”
Former First Minister Alex Salmond made a habit of using artists such as Jack Vettriano and Alasdair Gray for his Christmas cards, which were then auctioned off for charity, raising more than £150,000 to date.
The Scottish Government said it would announce plans for this year’s festive greeting from new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a later date.