Newspaper astounded to discover that area woman has tits

With a general election coming up and 650 constituencies to choose from, why is the Mail on Sunday particularly preoccupied with the race in the Nottinghamshire constituency of Ashfield? I ask merely for information.

To be more precise, the Mail isn’t obsessed with the Ashfield constituency as such. It is obsessed with the candidate chosen by the Labour Party to succeed the retiring Geoff “Buff” Hoon. This is Bradford native Gloria de Piero, a party member since her teens, former party press officer, journalist and well-connected networker. There may be a little celebrity frisson here, as Gloria is coming off a stint as political editor of GMTV, which means that if you used to get up at six in the morning you could see her standing outside the Palace of Westminster in her duffel coat – in the dark, when nobody else was there – to do a “going live” piece to camera. But as celebrity goes… well, we’re not in Simon Cowell territory here.

I have to declare an interest as I knew Gloria slightly back in her days as a NOLS activist. What do I remember about her? She was bright, articulate and energetic; she was down to earth; and she came across as nice, which was memorable as NOLS at the time was defined by Jim Murphy, a man who will never run a charm school. Oh yes, and she had a couple of other outstanding attributes. Even from the other side of a conference hall, you couldn’t miss them.

As I mention, the Mail has had an interest in Gloria for a while, invariably stressing her glamorous image. (Well, relatively glamorous. Vide that duffel coat from the GMTV News Hour; and if she wants to be a Labour MP she’ll have to start dressing like an Avis Rent-a-Car girl. It’s the law.) But now, the Mail has got down to brass tacks. Yes, it’s run a front-page splash on a parliamentary candidate having big tits.

Seriously:

Brown star was a Page 3 girl aged 15: Yesterday she posed with PM, but 20 years ago she was topless model

That was the front-page headline, not of the Sunday Sport, but of the Mail on Sunday. Jesus wept.

Labour’s attempts to add glamour to their Election launch came under fire last night when it emerged that the candidate placed near Gordon Brown in a promotional photo posed topless when she was 15 years old.

The revelation reignites the row over the use of all-women shortlists, when carefully chosen, often glamorous, candidates are parachuted in to safe seats ahead of more qualified local activists.

The second paragraph is what’s technically known as “throat-clearing”, that is a transparent attempt to make it look like a real political story. But back to Gloria’s tits:

The Page Three-style pictures of television presenter Gloria De Piero were taken by a photographic agency in her native Bradford without her parents’ knowledge. Friends say Ms De Piero was seeking to earn some extra money when she posed for the photographs, thought to have been taken in 1988, before her 16th birthday.

So, Page Three “style” pictures. So, she wasn’t actually a Page Three girl then – we’re talking about a young woman who briefly considers modelling as a way of earning money, and poses for a few portfolio photos, one or two of which might have been a bit saucy. It happens all the time.

Such photographs would have been illegal, as she had not yet turned 16.

This may be true, and the age limit for glamour photography has since been raised to 18. But back in the 1980s the boundaries weren’t quite as stringently policed, and a lot of the Page Three phenomenon, then at its height, traded on a “barely legal” aesthetic. Samantha Fox, the biggest name in the business, started topless modelling at 16; one recalls Debee Ashby being expelled from school and unable to do her A-levels after appearing on Page Three.

But party officials deny former GMTV political correspondent Ms De Piero was picked for her looks.

‘Gloria has been a committed Labour supporter for many years,’ said one. ‘The idea that she needed help to become a candidate is nonsense. She is highly intelligent and commands great respect from colleagues in journalism as well as politics. What she did as a teenager is irrelevant. So what if she posed for a few risqué photos?’

Yes, and these photos – assuming they exist, because they haven’t surfaced yet – date from 22 years ago. There is, I’ll grant you, something of an argument about the parachuting of photogenic candidates into safe seats, something that was a huge issue in Labour around 1997 and is a huge issue for “Dave” Cameron’s New Tories today. But the Mail seems more interested in the tits angle:

The revelation will also be an embarrassment to staunch feminist Ms Harman, who has championed all-women shortlists as well as trying to ban semi-naked Page Three girls from newspapers.

Well, one assumes Harriet Harman is a woman of the world. And what of Glenda Jackson’s parliamentary record – she’s not beyond criticism to be sure, but the voters of Hampstead never seemed too perturbed by her having stripped off in Ken Russell films twenty years earlier.

A source close to Ms De Piero confirmed yesterday that she had posed for the topless pictures without her parents’ knowledge when she was 15 years old. The source said: ‘She just decided to do it to earn a bit of money. It was a photographic agency and she knew that the topless pictures could be put out to newspapers.’

Maybe I’m being cynical, but there may just possibly be a bit of damage limitation from Gloria’s side to pre-empt the possibility of those photos suddenly surfacing during the campaign. Certainly, the latter third of the article is complimentary towards her, and could almost come from her own campaign leaflets.

But at the end of the day, we’re still talking about a national newspaper running a front-page splash – with two more pages inside – on “parliamentary candidate has big tits”. One expects this sort of thing on a satirical blog. One even expects it on the Daily Mail website, with its endless stories about top-heavy American celebutante Kim Kardashian – someone virtually unheard of in Britain, but who would generate lots of web traffic from the States – going shopping, eating a salad etc. The 200-plus comments on the Mail website, many of them variations on “phwoar”, would indicate something similar. But all the same, this is a pretty blatant example of Googlejuice churnalism seeping through into the print edition.

And can someone remind me why enormous numbers of women read the Mail? Is it some kind of a masochism kick?

13 Comments

  1. Mark P said,

    March 29, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Why do huge numbers of women read the Mail?

    You may as well ask why so many women, from a very different demographic to Mail readers, read Heat, Now and all of the other magazines chiefly dedicated to sorting the female half of the world’s population into those who are too fat and those who are too thin. Or for that matter why huge number of public sector workers continue to read any Irish newspaper.

  2. Dave said,

    March 29, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Yes, the reliable sexism of the Mail is disgraceful. But the real story is that the selection for a relatively safe Labour seat was stitched up to put in some Nu-Lab friend of the great and mighty. I have no problem with having a women only shortlist. A large number of applications were received; many of them excellent. There were several well qualified left-wingers amongst whom was a local woman Christine Shawcroft – a long serving member of the NEC with a fine role in Nottinghamshire politics. A shortlist of three was arrived at. It consisted of Gloria and two of the weakest applicants. The hustings was like Snow White and the two dwarves. If Gloria was such a good candidate, why did they have to nobble the other talented women? Already a number of local LP members are discussing whether to resign from the Party, because what is the use of being in a Party where you cannot even have an effective democratic say in the PPC you will be expected to work for.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      March 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      Quite. There’s a genuine issue there re parachutists that the Mail identifies and then proceeds to completely ignore. And no, if you’ve a good candidate you shouldn’t need to nobble the selection. It just annoys the activists you’re going to need in the campaign.

  3. James Connolly said,

    March 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    What happened to John Knight?

  4. Madam Miaow said,

    March 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Mark P, I read the Mail online because it has the best sensationalist sleb stories which are good at soothing my tired brow when I’ve had a hard day reading Das Kapital. It puts all my clever bits to sleep better than a slug of gin or a toke. Shame is that there aren’t enough grade A stars to keep me entertained. If only Diana were still alive. (See? Thats what happens when you read accursed organ.)

  5. robert said,

    March 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Reminds me of the Yes Minister analysis of the press. The Times is read by those who run the country. The Telegraph and the Guardian are read by those who think they ought to run the country. The Financial Times is read by those who own the country. The Morning Star is read by those who think the country should be run by another country. And the Sun/Mail is read by those who don’t care who runs the country provided she has big tits.

    • andyinswindon said,

      March 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      Which itself reminds me of a political essay written by William Brown, aged 11, via Richmal Crompton explaining politics in ther 1920s.

      Everyone wants to make the world better, the Conservatives want to make the world better by changing nothing, the Liberals want to make the world better by changing everything, and the Bolsheviks wane to make the world better by killing everybody.

  6. March 29, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    [...] Also at the Daily Mail: Newspaper astounded to discover that area woman has tits. [...]

  7. Dave O said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    one recalls Debee Ashby being expelled from school and unable to do her A-levels after appearing on Page Three.

    You weren’t always as obsessed with Lukacs as you sometimes like to make out, were you, Splinty?

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      March 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

      Pleasurable as it is to bury your head in a volume of Henri de Lubac, there are alternatives.

  8. ejh said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:28 am

    And now it’s Tristram

  9. April 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    [...] that story, but as with previous coverage, our press seem to be fixated on the candidate having massive norks. Yes, we’d noticed them. Gloria’s tits may be hard to miss, but do they really justify [...]

  10. yarm hotels said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I think she has done really well and she is holding her own..well done Gloria


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