In Depth

James ‘four ovens’ Brokenshire and other failed photo-ops

From bacon butties and bananas to a poorly timed Mexican wave

james_brokenshire.jpg

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire is facing a public roasting following an at-home photo-op for The Sunday Times that revealed the Tory MP has not one but four ovens in his kitchen.

The newspaper ran a story on the back of the images, noting that the politician’s wife, Cathy, had explained: “I hate it when, come Christmas, there’s not enough room in the oven.” 

As jokes and memes began circulating on social media, Brokenshire tried to make light of the situation, and repeated his claims that, in fact, he has “two double-ovens”. 

He will not be the first politician to regret a carefully staged PR shot. “No good ever comes of it. And yet they can’t help themselves,” notes The Times’ Matt Chorley. 

Here are images from other photo-ops that didn’t go entirely to plan:

Ed Miliband outdid Brokenshire with his domestic mishap back in 2015, when the then-Labour leader and his wife, Justine, were interviewed by the BBC in an small, austere-looking kitchen at their north London home. Critics were quick to sneer when it subsequently emerged that this was by far the more modest of two kitchens in the £2m property.

But that photo-op paled in comparison to Miliband’s bacon butty disaster the previous year. The MP was on the campaign trail at London’s New Covent Garden flower market ahead of the local elections when he was snapped struggling to chew on the sandwich - triggering widespread derision that, the HuffPost suggests, helped to derail his political career.

Miliband’s politician brother, David, had suffered a similar gaffe years earlier. As foreign secretary, he was snapped clutching a banana and grinning awkwardly at the 2008 Labour conference. 

Tory spin-doctors made the most of his humiliation, ordering life-size cardboard cut-outs of the photo to display at the Conservative conference - a move that left Miliband with the nickname Banana Man for years to come.

Gordon Brown was another Labour bigwig to fall foul of photographers. As prime minister, in April 2010, Brown and his wife, Sarah, were pictured walking through an NHS health centre near Leeds.

Unfortunately for them, one photographer panned out to reveal two Labour officials on the floor, holding the doors open, so the couple could stride through. “Hail, Your Majesty,” quipped The Guardian.

Brown’s successor, David Cameron, was no stranger to photo-op disasters either. Ahead of the 2015 election, the Tory leader attended a lunch in Dorset with people who had benefited from his tax and pension changes.

But Cameron’s attempt to further his man-of-the-people image went awry when he decided to eat a hotdog using a knife and fork.

They say don’t work with animals and children, but politicans rarely listen. Then-chancellor George Osborne probably wished he had following a visit to a London nursery in 2013, when he was snapped alongside one future voter who clearly had little interest in the Tory MP’s childcare vouchers announcement.

Last but not least, Theresa May’s efforts to join in with the crowds at a France vs. England friendly in 2017 backfired when she got the timing wrong. The prime minister stood and raised her hands with great enthusiasm - as everyone around her, including French President Emmanuel Macron, remained uncomfortably in their seats.

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