Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘John Prescott’

Peter Brookes: The Best of Times

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 21st August, 2011

There are many good reasons not to read the Times, Rupert Murdoch being the most obvious. But one of that newspaper’s best features for some years now has been the output of political cartoonist Peter Brookes. Like all the best of his breed, he is topical, irreverent and puts the boot in where it’s needed. Unlike some cartoonists, however, he draws charicatures that are clearly identifiable, no matter how far-fetched the distortion. I think particularly of his Nature Notes, which have, for example, featured Harriet Harman as a praying mantis, Nicolas Sarkozy as a cockerel on stilts and Hazel Blears as a snail. No-one of any political party or natonality is free from his humorous barbs. Fortunately, every so often his very best cartoons appear in beautifully reproduced full-colour collections such as the one I have been savouring this afternoon: The Best of Times… (JR Books, London, 2009; £15.99). Peter Brookes holds no-one sacred, be it the Pope, the Queen or Barack Obama. Moreover, his willingness to get right to the bone prompts outright guffaws, such as his drawing of a very smug Bill Clinton declaring: ‘Fellow Democrats, trust me! Would I ever leave a sour taste in you mouth?!’ Because the volume covers the final years of the last Labour government, both Tony Blair (over Iraq) and Gordon Brown (portrayed naked on a sofa, in a pastiche of Lucian Freud’s ‘Benefit Supervisor Sleeping’) get it in the neck. I particularly love the image of a manic Cherie Blair, with terrifying grin, typing her autobiography on an old-fashioned cash register. And there is an unfogettable image of John Prescott impaled by a croquet hoop on a croquet lawn while Peter Mandelson aims a ball straight between his legs. As Liberal Democrats were not yet in government, they don’t fgure very much in this collection, apart from poor old Ming Campbell drawn alongside a Thora Hird-style stair-lift and Nick Clegg as a bird called the Great Shag. But I am sure there will be lots for LibDems to groan and giggle over by the time the next collection of Peter Brookes’s work comes out.


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John Sharkey and Yes2AV at the LibDems English Council

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 27th November, 2010

The Campaign Director of the Yes to Fairer Votes Campaign, John Sharkey — who was recently announced as one of the Liberal Democrats’ new working peers — was a guest speaker today at the meeting in London of the LibDems English Council, the body which looks at English party matters and brings together elected representatives from all the English regions. London is unique as a region in that we do not have any planned elections next year, so the May referendum on switching Britain’s electoral system from First Past the Post to the Alternative Vote will be the main focus of campaigning activity in the capital (while keeping the 2012 GLA/London Mayoral elections in mind). As John Sharkey pointed out, London will be a crucial battleground, not just because there are over five million voters in the capital, but also because of media interest and the fact that there is a substantial body of progressive Labour opinion in London as well as Liberal Democrats. That means that there is much room for cooperation between the LibDems (overwhelmingly in favour of electoral reform) and many reasonable Labour supporters (plus the Greens, of course, and even UKIP; coalitions can sometimes entail strange bedfellows). Yesterday, a lineup of No2AV Labour figures was produced, notably Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett, John Precott and John Reid — a herd of political dynosaurs, basically. Of course, there will be some pro-Reform Tories who need to be brought on board, as well as people who have no firm political alleigance but who believe that Britain’s rotten political system requires a big shake-up. The national Fairer Votes campaign will be organising hustings (many in churches) at which the arguments can be thrashed out. And while it is important that the Yes campaign is not seen to be merely ‘Liberal Democrats and Friends’, the LibDems must be very active in it, locally and regionally, not just in London but nationwide.

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