i Editor's Letter: Michael Gove's picture


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The Independent Online


You are a surprising lot. There are many things that might have got i’s lovely readers exercised over the weekend: the punishing fuel prices, the frankly scandalous increase in mortgage rates by some leading lenders (why aren’t you angrier?), Cardinal Keith O’B rien’s outspoken views on gay marriage, the desecration of Libyan war graves or even Vladimir Putin’s processional re-election.

Instead the lively i@independent.co.uk inbox was full of complaints about a photograph. Sadly, it was the one we ran on Saturday’s front page about Michael Gove to illustrate the emails story. We have run it before, to be sure. We have also decided in the past not to run it on occasion because it really does make him look like something from Scream, if not Psycho.

Some readers, like Ron Morris, of Beeston, Richard Bristowe, of Silver End, and Andrew Sherwood, of Reading, have scolded us for scaring them over the breakfast table. Others, like Mike Lavous, of Farnborough, and Redruth’s Sarah Ellis wrote in to say that the “somewhat demonic” photograph compromised our “much-vaunted independence”.

You may have a point. Well, certainly about upsetting the children over the breakfast table. To be fair, those of us whose mugshots make it into print rarely like the results. I am obviously much thinner, less-tired looking and nicer than the picture atop this column and my new Twitter account (@stefanohat – did I mention yet that I am now Tweeting?) would suggest. And you would not believe how many retakes some i columnists went through until we came to an acceptable compromise. No names. But you are right, there is an inference to be drawn from the use of such a photograph and it is loaded. Shame on us. To make amends, here’s a picture of that nice Mr Gove looking, um, nice.