The Enfield and Southgate Conservative Association stands accused of photoshopping former MP David Burrowes and his dog Cholmeley into photo of a community rally to support road safety measures. Spotted by eagle-eyed readers of the local newspaper the photo was submitted to, party officials so far remain silent on what has inevitably been dubbed “doggate.”
Doggate: A man and his dog photoshop fail
With crucial local elections being held across the UK tomorrow, local party groups have been trying their best to get positive stories about their agenda in local newspapers. One such attempt was made by the Enfield & Southgate Conservative Association when they sent a story to the Enfield Independent about a rally to improve pedestrian safety at a junction in Southgate. It worked – on 25 April the Independent ran a story entitled “Enfield Labour under fire over ‘unsafe’ junction” alongside a photo. Sent in from the event by Southgate Ward Conservative candidate Jasmine Storry, the image included local Conservative dignitary, former MP David Burrowes, and his dog Cholmeley.
It now turns out that David Burrowes was not actually in the photo that was sent in to the Independent. The two had been photoshopped in, which is clearly evident from the feet of Burrowes’ dog appearing to float in midair.
Any doubt about the fraudulence of the photo was dispelled when the original photo (sans David Burrowes and pooch) was produced by the local Conservative group under pressure (which the Independent inserted into the original story instead of the faked photo).
Was David Burrowes even at the event?
Despite repeated appeals for an explanation, the Conservatives have so far refused any attempt to justify the doctored image. Instead they have produced images of David Burrowes and his dog also taken at the same event. The unspoken excuse seems to be that Burrowes simply missed the group photo and he was added in later as a truer reflection of those in attendence.
This possible explanation, however, ignores the political sensitivities of those in the photo – sensitivities that it seems unlikely the Conservatives would not be aware of. Those who did not wish to be publicly photographed with Burrowes are furious.
According to local campaigner Hal Haines of “Better Streets for Enfield,” he had been invited to speak to local residents about traffic issues. He agreed to come, but stipulated that he would not support any Conservative party campaigning.
Speaking to the Independent he explained, “I said I would come but would not be in a photo for publicity for the Conservatives. They were taking photographs with all the Tory banners – I was not part of that. Then they took photos with just the residents and I reluctantly joined in.
“Then David Burrowes turned up. He is against everything I stand for. We walked off, and as far as I know they took more photos. They wanted David Burrowes in as big a shot as possible. It might seem like a small thing, but for me it is a big thing. I am campaigning against them [the Conservatives]. I specifically said I do not want to appear in Conservative literature.”
So rather than being just an innocent, more accurate reflection of the rally, the photo was possibly an attempt to bolster the political fortunes of the local Conservative party by associating the group with community activists.
Who stands to gain from the fake David Burrowes image?
But who exactly photoshopped David Burrowes into the image? With party leaders remaining silent, it is not at all clear that the doctoring was done with the former MP’s knowledge or permission.
One self-identified fan of Burrowes and his dog is the candidate who submitted the photo to the Independent in the first place, Jasmine Storry. She has tweeted about the two joining her on the campaign trail in recent weeks.
— Jasmine Storry (@JasmineStorry) April 21, 2018
However adorable Cholmeley is, Hal Haines remains furious about the doctored image.
“We want to engage with residents. That is why I turned up – to engage with residents, not to be with the Conservative Party.
“I don’t even believe the [Conservatives] are interested in improving traffic problems at that junction. The only reason they were there is to make a political point against the Labour council. I do support what the Labour administration is doing on transport.”