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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 07:42 GMT
Festive Blairs choose celeb snapper

By Nick Assinder
Political Correspondent, BBC News website

Tony and Cherie Blair
The Blair's Christmas card

He is famous for his ever-so-slightly risqué black and white nudes and fashion photography.

Now John Swannell has turned his lens on Tony and Cherie Blair - for their entirely non-controversial Christmas card.

The world-renowned snapper, favoured by many celebrities, has the couple posing in relaxed, smart-but-casual mode under one of Chequers' Gothic-style arches.

Last year the Blairs had two cards - one official and one for family and close friends - but that has been dropped in favour of one simple card featuring just the two of them.

But this year's is notable for the fact it carries no greeting whatsoever.

Like one of those all-purpose ones you buy in the High Street, it is fit for any occasion. Just add your own message.

Michael Howard's Christmas card
Michael Howard opted for penguins in support of charity
The prime minister's official spokesman later clarified the situation, by pointing out some of the cards would have "Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year" while others would just say "Best Wishes for the New Year".

"It has been standard diplomatic practice followed by all prime ministers for the last 20 years that the Christmas greetings are left out (of some cards) because of the religious symbolism," he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and his wife Sarah, who are expecting their first child in April, have opted for a card showing a snow-covered croft near Inverness.

Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy's Christmas card scene
Kennedy favours a seasonal landscape

The charity card produced in aid of the Highland Hospice in his constituency reads "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" in both English and Gaelic.

As for Conservative leader Michael Howard, he picked penguins on a card which - like Charles Kennedy - supports a good cause.

Mr Howard chose Addaction, a drug and alcohol charity supported by his wife Sandra.

Commons Confidential
06 Dec 04 |  UK Politics

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