Why those grinning people on election posters look nothing like real-life pollies

Small feet. Big earlobes. Weak handshake. Big bum. No wonder we find our politicians so disappointing once we elect them, writes Rebecca Levingston

Mar 13, 2024, updated Mar 13, 2024
Why do election candidates rarely look like the people on their corflutes. (File image).

Why do election candidates rarely look like the people on their corflutes. (File image).

The world’s gone bonkers over a phony photo.

Princess Catherine’s family pic has become farcical. Whether it’s fake, fixed or fraudulent, I’m not sure I care.

But I do have another photo faux pas I wish to ventilate.

The ugly pollie pic.

You see them pop up every time there’s an election. A jump scare political style.

Double chinned, black and white or grey, often eyes akimbo. It’s the unflattering political headshot that slips into social media, billboards or TV ads to show a candidate in evil colour tones. Such a juvenile tactic. Does it work?

It must.

Are we really so easily swayed by a bad photo that it could decide a vote? I guess it’s the vibe of the thing.

Let me list the superficial descriptions of politicians in recent years that people have told me impact their political choices. Her earlobes are too big. He walks like he’s been riding a horse. Her voice is too nasally. He looks small. She seems like a princess. His eyes are too close together. He’s got little feet. A deep voice. A weak R sound. A weak handshake. A big bum.

How do you decide who’ll get your vote?

I wonder if it’s the corflutes in front yard. At election time they stand out for a few weeks and everybody knows who that household supports. I admire the dedication. Stick your neck out.

We are a society who still hasn’t really evolved from the idea that you don’t talk about politics, sex or religion yet we could probably do with some more upfront conversations. Maybe we’d tackle some of the more challenging problems if we did talk candidly and constructively about stuff that matters.

Sometimes it seems no words are needed, just waves.

You’ve seen the placard people waving on the side of the road whose gesticulations might play a role in your personal democracy. They’re also out in force ahead of the council elections. Sometimes they’re more subtle. Just a person in a camping chair on a main road with an a-frame sign. Vibe and visibility. Does that win votes?

What about policy? I’d love to know how many people know their councillor or the alternative candidates. In smaller towns across Queensland chances are you know your local rep better. I confess I really appreciate that regional mayors often list their direct mobile phone numbers on their website. You call – they answer. It’s a breeze compared to the world of state and federal politics where you need to get past several media advisors.

I called a regional mayor recently about a big fish in New South Wales. Chris Hanna is the Mayor of Snowy Monary Regional Council and he’s got a problem with the Big Trout in town.

Locals in the city of Adaminaby are unhappy with the council’s fresh paint job on their 10 metre, 2.5 tonne rainbow trout sculpture. Pride of the city. The biggest trout in the world apparently – but the colours aren’t true.

The red, green and pink are wrong and the pearly white underbelly isn’t right. The Mayor is onto it and assures the fishing fans he’ll fix it.

Now that’s democracy in action.

There’ll be plenty of blue, red, green and other coloured cards handed out across 77 Queensland councils this weekend.

Wonder which bait works to get the fish, I mean voters, biting.

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