Imagery in politics is hugely important. It communicates values, shifts perceptions and can be the downfall of a political career. The UK General Election of 2010 has, with four days left until the polls open, seen a seismic shift in the UK political landscape as a result of the national TV broadcasts of the leader debates.
Substance aside, it is the first time many people will have heard of Nick Clegg, letalone seen him or heard him speak.
The TV stations which have screened the debates have done their best to remain impartial. Our newspapers however, have declared their allegiances and are now in a propaganda war against each other and the support of their rival organisations.
Can you guess which party a leading national newspaper is supporting, from the image below?
The Observer has follwed in the steps of it’s sister paper the Guardian by openly declaring it’s support for the Liberal Democrats – can you tell?
The image of Gordon Brown makes him look tired but prepared to fight on, David Cameron as if he’s going to jump out of the page and sink his teeth into your neck, whilst Nick Clegg has a humble smile, eyes open and engaging.
This bias is of course an old art and something that any good history or journalism student is aware of. It’s also something that, no joke, people outside of the media are aware of. Really? Yes…. i’m afraid so.
People can see through the specific use of specific images identified for a specific agenda.
Political preferences aside, the use of imagery over the past three weeks has been a guide to the way that people perceive the politicians in front of them. As we move into the final hurdle, this will intensify, but what is important is the context within which these pictures will sit.