Conservative chairman Grant Shapps — a purveyor of online get-rich-quick schemes who bragged about the number of planes he owned — is using populist internet marketing techniques to attack the unemployed. A new advert to be run in marginal constituencies contrasts “people who don’t work” with “hardworking families”.

But the Tories’ “hardworking family” is actually posed by models who are thought to be either Danish or Australian. Along with adverts for building firms, insurance and dentists, the stock image has also been used to promote home schooling by fundamentalist Christians.

Tory happy family stock photo


Full Time Parenting

The book Full Time Parenting contains chapters entitled “How I taught my children to sit still and be quiet” and “Hospitality: it’s not just about women anymore!”.

Update: It looks like the family have been working especially hard this morning – they’ve now got their very own hard-working Tory family tumblr.

Scrapbook wonders what this incarnation of Shapps’ idealised family unit would think about Cameron’s gay marriage plans?

  1. This website really has gone down hill. So the Tories use stock photos? So what – so does Labour (they were available on the Labour print pages before the last election).

    So what’s your point? Ooooohhh, Christians have also used it. For a start, the two chapters – one on how to get kids to behave and another on how to get men involved in helping around the house – are probably quite welcome in most households. Secondly, you seem to be trying to embarass Tories by their association with Christianity – which seems fundamentally a nasty and intolerant position to be in.

  2. This piece is mainly poking fun. There is a serious side to this, though: that the tax credit changes will actually affect more working families than ones on beenfit.

    And whatever the religion, isolating your family from the rest of society by removing children from school is not healthy. Here are two workshops run by that book’s author, Israel Wayne:

    Homeschooling: Preference or Conviction – Israel Wayne
    Why do you homeschool? What will define success for you when your children are grown? What is a Biblical philosophy of education? This keynote session focuses on what is really important. Israel will share what has helped his family avoid burnout and frustration in their many years of homeschooling.

    The Biblical Basis of Parental Rights – Israel Wayne
    Who owns the children? Does the state have a compelling interest in your child’s education? What are your rights as a homeschooling parent? Do you know what to do if a social worker shows up for an unexpected visit? Israel shares personal stories and insights from the early days of the homeschooling movement when many parents faced jail and the removal of their children from the home if they chose to home educate. Learn how to equip yourself to stand against opposition.

  3. Edward Mccrilby says:

    Strange position to be trying to associate the Tories with as they are just licensed stock images. Anybody could uses them for a fee as well you know and probably many others have in addition to the Tories and the Christian fundies. Does that mean whoever uses the stock image is somehow tarnished and responsible for it’s next use by different licensee?

  4. I don’t deny any of that. But if you wanted to make a stance against the tax credit or homeschooling in general then make the argument for it. No problems with that at all. It’s just you didn’t do that.

    From the title, and your tweets, it looks like you’re making an attack on the Tories by associating them with Christianity – which in turn makes it look like being a Christian is something to be attacked for.

  5. @Jonathan

    “fundamentally a nasty and intolerant position to be in”

    As opposed to, say, trying to demonise “people who won’t work”?

  6. I don’t think it’s an either or. You can criticise the Government legitimately for its position without making cheap silly comments about religion

  7. “isolating your family from the rest of society by removing children from school is not healthy”

    thus spake Political Scrapbook! Homes-schooling is hardly isolating from society. If anyone is fundamentalist it’s your dogmatic assertions about what is healthy and not.
    Yes there is a serious point in this article, but as usual you’ve lost it by pointing out a scandal that isn’t.

  8. I think the important point is that this is a manufactured campaign which can *only* use stock photography to lend the gloss of reality. These caricatures are works of fiction and are not to be found in the wild. Yeah, other parties may be just as likely to be this crass. And yeah they’ll look just as silly when they do, and I’m sure confident they’ll get an outing here.

    Keep up the laughs, Political Scrapbook, cos god knows we can all use a few.

  9. The fact that the same picture is used for a Christian home schooling website isn’t really the salient point here. What seems more significant is the sheer, naff phoneyness of using a stock photo to represent what’s supposed to be a typical hard working family.

    Unlike Jonathan, I think it’s a good thing to highlight this – and the tumblr of all the other products that this photo also adorns is pretty hilarious.

    The Tory advert itself is revolting, and has been condemned even on ConservativeHome for demonising the unemployed and lumping them all together as if they’re all feckless scroungers. Most people know that this is most certainly not the case, particularly during a severe recession.

  10. Well, they don’t look like they’re working very hard to me. We should go back to Victorian values, when the whole family would be working down the mines. That’s a hard-working family!

  11. Laurence, I agree with you that this piece is just poking fun. Many of us who publish stuff either physically or online use stock images, it is certainly cheaper than hiring a photographer, scouting a set, dressing a set, sorting out the props etc etc. I don’t think that it is a really serious dig at a party just because they use stock images.

    Where I will disagree with you is on the subject home schooling. Although I don’t currently have a need to home school, I would certainly consider it if my local schools were bad, or were riddled with ideologues or were just not suitable for my children. It is unfair of you to lump all home schooler’s as ‘isolating your family’ from the world. Not every home schooling family are doing it for religious reasons and the state should not have a a monopoly on education.

    Many parents examine the UK education system and realise that home schooling has a lot going for it.

  12. the thing about home schooling as in that advert is that it usually relies on the parents being on benefits as you can’t be a “full time parent” if you have a full time job

  13. Funny that they call others ‘shirkers’ when they’re taking already published photos to use for their propaganda – very lazy Tories, and a missed opportunity to hire some unemployed people to pose instead. Oh but that’s right isn’t it, the Tories are happy for people to be unemployed because it gives them a scapegoat. Why solve a problem when it can be used to your advantage?
    And as for home schooling – I was home educated and I was NEVER ‘socially isolated’ NOR brought up to follow a religion but that sort of crap propaganda DID make people prejudiced against me and my family. Maybe the school system is the one in the wrong if that is the sort of small minded attitude about differences it instills in people.

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