General Election 2015: The photo of a tree that proves the Tories have an image problem

The same bucolic image is being used in different constituencies

Alexander Ward
Saturday 25 April 2015 22:42
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The original field in High Wycombe, which is used as the banner image on a number of websites belonging to local Tory associations
The original field in High Wycombe, which is used as the banner image on a number of websites belonging to local Tory associations

If the photograph at the top of Lucy Frazer’s constituency website is any guide, south-east Cambridgeshire is a lovely place to live. The picture shows a magnificent chestnut tree and a sweep of fields. It appears to be a perfect vision of England’s green and pleasant land.

Derbyshire and the New Forest could give Ms Frazer’s corner of Cambridgeshire a run for its money in terms of natural beauty, however. The banner image on the websites belonging to local Tory associations in those constituencies shows a magnificent chestnut tree and a sweep of green... oh, hang on.

On closer inspection, exactly the same photograph of the same tree and the same fields appears in the banner of Tory websites as far afield as Essex, Bosworth, Norfolk and Suffolk. In each case, the name of the constituency is emblazoned on the photograph, suggesting, one might reasonably think, that the field is a local attraction.

The photograph of the same tree and the same fields appears in the banner of numerous Tory websites

So, where is the Tories’ hallowed ground, exactly? Peter Elvidge, the photographer who snapped the picture nine years ago, told The Independent on Sunday the field is part of National Trust land in High Wycombe.

It’s “a pleasant area of open parkland” on the Hughenden Manor estate that belonged to Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th century, he said. The park and woodlands, which cover almost 1,500 acres, include the manor house used in the Second World War by agents planning the Dambusters raid.


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“I had no idea the Conservatives were using that one – it is quite an old [photo] and not one that I would consider one of my best from Hughenden Park,” said Mr Elvidge. “But I guess that it works OK in the context.”

Mr Elvidge sells his work, including the High Wycombe field, via a stock image library. He isn’t the only one surprised at its popularity among Conservatives.

Debbie Clark, organising secretary of the south-east Cambridgeshire Conservatives, said she had thought the picture showed a local beauty spot. “It does look remarkably like Cherry Hill in Ely, so I would imagine that it was that,” she said.

Ms Clark said the image would be replaced by a more suitable image taken in the constituency, adding: “I don’t think anyone had noticed.”

Several other associations contacted by The IoS confirmed the image was a stock photograph and said they would update their sites with images that better reflected their constituency.

A spokesman for Heather Wheeler, the Conservative candidate for South Derbyshire, said: “We’re very thankful that it has been pointed out and we have changed it to a lovely picture of the south Derbyshire rolling fields, which Mrs Wheeler actually took herself. It is no longer High Wycombe. We weren’t aware we were allowed to change it.”

The image of the field has also been replaced with a picture of someone posting a ballot paper into a post box in West Suffolk, South West Norfolk, North West Cambridgeshire, East of England and New Forest West.

Oddly, the website operated by the Conservatives’ Wycombe association has also replaced the image of the field.


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