Bernard Trafford: Time to keep saucy snaps under wraps to avoid Internet embarrassment

Royal Grammar School headmaster Bernard Trafford believes those in the public eye need to wise up to stop their intimate pictures being splashed across the internet

PA Wire Cabinet Office Minister Brooks Newmark who has resigned as Minister for Civil Society
Cabinet Office Minister Brooks Newmark who has resigned as Minister for Civil Society

Here’s an announcement to put everyone’s mind at rest. No nude or even saucy pictures of the Traffords will appear on the Internet, let alone on Facebook or splashed across the media.

No, really. For a start, we don’t take such pictures! More to the point, if we did, we wouldn’t be daft enough to upload them to the Cloud.

You may think I am, once again, stating the “bleedin’ obvious”. But the obviousness doesn’t seem to have struck celebrities in whose lives or, rather, in whose physical attributes there’s rather more public interest, particularly of a prurient nature.

A number of curvaceous Hollywood starlets, for example, were outraged back in August when naked pictures of them appeared on the web, apparently hacked from where they’d been safely stored in the Cloud.

Safely? Look, I don’t understand how my phone and MacBook seem to share pictures between them, but they do. It means I never lose snaps: but I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume.

I live with the fact that I’m not really in control of my photos. That’s OK with me because I’m careful not to take pictures that might later embarrass me or lay me open to blackmail.

And I’m not in the public eye! Apparently, though, those who are put themselves at risk nonetheless. They still Tweet compromising pictures and then complain when they go viral.

First actresses: next a Tory minister. Brooks Newmark (father of five) sent explicit photos of himself (including, as one paper put it, “a photograph of his genitals”) to an undercover journalist posing as a model.

We teachers seem to spend our lives warning boys and girls against messaging explicit or compromising pictures of themselves even to their closest, most intimate friends: because, when they do, they lose control of them.

I just about remember being a teenager: I was as unwilling as any other to listen to advice. In this harsh modern world, when young people find themselves on the receiving end of cyber-bullying, with humiliating or obscene pictures circulating, irreparable damage is done. They emerge from the episode very much sadder, but a little wiser.

Doing crazy things is part of being young. Sometimes kids have to learn the hard way. But how a grown man and politician can make such a fool of himself baffles me. It was so daft and stupid that I actually feel sorry for the guy.

While I can’t imagine any circumstance under which I would want to send a picture of the Trafford crown jewels to anyone, I feel a little sympathy for someone whose stupidity’s so harshly punished.

One might also feel sorry for his boss, Prime Minister David Cameron. Newmark resigned on the eve of the Tory Conference: it was embarrassing to both party and leader to lose an admittedly minor minister in that way.

A bigger headline was caused by the defection of the appropriately named Mark Reckless to UKIP. Banner headlines about the party “reeling” were an inevitable consequence.

Do the Tories really need to reel?

I’ve no brief for any political party, but I can’t help feeling that they might be better off without both characters.

One committed an act of extreme folly, while the other… You guessed it: he made a spectacle of himself by sexting to a Mirror journalist.

Reckless lost friends through a resignation calculated to inflict maximum PR damage: but his former party is surely better off without someone at its nasty end (in a week where it just got nastier, in several conference speeches) who sought to shaft it by joining a still nastier party that embraces intolerance and xenophobia.

As delegates wend their way home from the Tory conference, I hope they’ll have learned two pieces of wisdom: keep your kit on when wielding a camera; and turn your phone off when unclothed.

To expect to derive any more wisdom from a party conference is, I fear, too much to hope for.

@bernardtrafford

  • Dr Bernard Trafford is Headmaster of Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School. The views expressed here are personal.

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