The hazy lens, the sultry look, the half-smile looking back at you...  

This ad depicts those first moments when you wake up in bed with someone.  

It was not for Durex or Viagra, or even a luxury coffee brand like Nespresso, all things associated with those situations, but for the Labour party.  

And the person depicted – whoever dreamt up this scenario had Photoshopped Rishi Sunak’s face on to whoever was really lying in that bed that day.  

Or perhaps they had asked AI. You can imagine the request - “create a realistic picture of Rishi Sunak in bed in the morning looking sexily at the camera”...  

Labour adLabour ad (Image: Labour)

I hope Google is keeping a close eye on their search history if that’s what they are asking poor old Chat GPT or whatever picture AI software they are using to do.  

The ad’s slogan screams ‘Don't wake up to 5 more years of the Tories’ and then underneath ‘Vote Labour’.  

The picture is creepy. It’s meant to be. It certainly grabs your attention. But should it be allowed?  

This election campaign has seen many tactics, backbiting, swiping at other parties and false claims – but creating realistic mockups of real people? That’s low.  

So proud were Labour of this fake ad, they printed it on to a pillowcase and got Keir Starmer to pose with it, even though national media were already reporting on its creepiness.  

Despite the fact the Rishi Sunak was the prime minister and a raging Tory, whatever political allegiance you may have, he is still a real-life person. A dad, a son, a husband. Is this fair? Or nice?  

You can argue that he’s put himself in that position, by standing in that role, by representing that political party, but whatever terrible policies he’s brought in, or stood by, or even voted for, has he ever agreed that his face can be used in fake situations? I think not.  

Where does the campaign move to now, next time do we get Photoshopped/AI pictures of the next Prime Minister rising a horse in the mountains with a bare chest? Or even worse getting jiggy with a pig?  

As a newspaper, we pride ourselves on depicting reality, telling the truth and letting the reader decide. We do not accept doctored images – only on very rare occasions will you see a picture used with a filter (usually if there are no other images and it’s of vital importance to share the picture, say for a missing child).  

The uproar over Princess Kate who dared to tinker with a photograph of her family seems to have been forgotten. Or was it the fact that everyone got so angry at her Photoshop attempt BEFORE they realised that she had cancer and was just simply trying to make herself look a little bit less sick in front of the world.  

Throughout this latest election campaign, which thankfully by the time you read this will be almost over, my newspapers have run many political ads.  

Political parties have used my news titles – still the most effective way to reach the largest local audience - to communicate their messages.  

We have had ads inside the newspaper, on our websites, social media pages or as a “wrap” around the newspaper. They have all been clearly marked as advertising and all parties were given an equal opportunity to take the space. 

One of the best bits about working for Newsquest, is that advertising and editorial remains quite separate, so we can never be accused of being paid off or swayed by the person with the most amount of cash.  

While you may not agree with the policies of some parties, in an open democracy we believe it’s important to accept advertising from all election candidates.   

Many people are mistakenly under the assumption that newspapers have to abide by the same rules as the BBC or public authorities known as purdah. We are not funded by public money, so can make whatever editorial or advertising judgments that we like – however we will always be sensitive to the fact that we are here for the community and try to present a balanced view.  

In running political advertising, we make no endorsement of any political policy, party or candidates, who are all offered the same terms.  It would be inconsistent if we were in favour of free speech, but only selectively.   

Ultimately it is for you as the electorate to pass judgment on the candidates, not us.  Our role in the electoral process is to try and assist you in making your own fully informed decision on how to vote. 

However, for the record, I did object to Labour’s crass use of Rishi Sunak’s face in their latest ad – not that I hold any clout over advertising space.

The use of fake images, especially ones that some people might genuinely believe to be real, is a slippery slope – and we should all push back on this, because who knows – it could be your face being photoshopped next...