Politicians’ Christmas cards

7 12 2010

For politicians, Christmas normally provides a welcome respite from their official duties. A brief period away from Westminster and their constituents to spend quality time with their families. However, the flipside of this is that they also have to send a small mountain of Christmas cards to their supporters. In most cases they all have to be signed by hand, as nothing causes offence more than a photocopied signature (you might as well send an email).

Politicians send these cards to show that they care and are in touch with their followers. Therefore, the image they put on the front is of vital importance and is tailored to convey a particular message.  There are several strategies adopted by politicians to do this.

A religious image
This is good for showing off your faith. However it’s best avoided if you represent a large multi-faith constituency as it might cause offence. Increasingly, political leaders tend to avoid religious themed cards for fear of upsetting people. Instead, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have both opted for generic winter scenes in the past. 

A picture of your family
Good for showing off your credentials as a family minded individual. Probably best avoided if you’ve suffered any recent sex scandals though, as it might be seen as hypocritical.  In the gallery below, you’ll see a previous card from the Speaker of the House, John Bercow.

A child’s drawing
This is always a good choice as constituents often find it endearing and it’s difficult for comedians to mock you for it. Nick Clegg went down this path last year.  In this particular case it was drawn by one of his sons and also shows his family, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

The political statement
This is a more difficult tactic, for fear of accusations of politicising a religious festival. Alex Salmond the Scottish Nationalist leader ran into this difficulty last year when he decided to use a Christmas card that prominently featured St Andrew’s flag.  His opponents possibly went over-the-top though, when they accused the design of being Stalinist. [The Herald -Row on the cards as Salmond's Saltire girl is branded stalinist]

Finally, there are some political Christmas cards that really make you wonder about the mind of sender.  The Californian Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez has become notorious in recent years for hers. They rarely feature anything you’d typically associate with Christmas, but always show Loretta, and usually her cat Gretzky. The cards have actually become collectors items in political circles, but goodness knows why.

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