September 3, 2010
[books] Digested read: Tony Blair A Journey‘You know, I had a tear in my eye when I entered No10 for the first time in 1997, though it wasn’t, as the Daily Mail tried to claim, because I was choked with emotion at how far I had come since I was a young, ordinary boy standing on the terraces of St James’ Park, watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle. It was because Gordon had hit me. Ah, Gordon! He meant well, I suppose, in his funny little emotionally inarticulate way.’
May 11, 2007
[comics] Getting Blair — Steve Bell on Drawing Tony Blair … ‘I was on the top deck of a Blackpool tram when I bumped into George Pope, a Labour party stalwart I’d not seen for some years. “I don’t think much of your Blair,” he said. “You haven’t got him yet, have you?” Moments like these are difficult for the sensitive professional. While I have no right to expect the world to fall at my feet, chortling gratefully at each new offering, this was impugning my professional integrity, which is like laughing at my penis, only worse. The trouble was he was right. Cartooning is a kind of performance art for furtive exhibitionists, and you’re only ever as good as your last performance.’
October 27, 2006
[politics] Sketch The Naked Truth of a Leader at Bay — another sketch from Simon Hoggart watching Tony Blair at Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday … ‘Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, said to Mr Blair, “you will be aware that at this precise moment I have one hundred rather attractive naked men outside my front door.” I wish I could have bottled the look on his face. It was the mien of one who has no idea how he is supposed to react. Shock? Bafflement? Good humour? What bothered him was the fact that he had no idea where the question was going; there was nothing in his fat fact file that could possibly help…’
September 27, 2006
[politics] I’m right, you’re wrong, and the voters know it… — Simon Hoggart on Tony Blair’s last speech at the Labour Conference … ‘The organisers tried to whip up a frenzy which was almost, but not quite there. Before he arrived there was a “spontaneous” demonstration in which members of the audience held up hand-written posters: “We love you, yeah, yeah, yeah”, “Too young to retire” and simply “Thank you”. It was like waiting for a very cuddly version of Stalin. We saw a video in which ordinary folk and celebrities gave thanks for the existence of Blair. One old lady said: “I’m grateful for the £200 fuel allowance – it’s better than a woolly hat.” And they claim the British have a poverty of ambition! Then he arrived…’
April 29, 2005
[election] In the Eye of the Storm, it’s Blinking Tricky — Simon Hoggart watching Tony Blair and Gordon Brown: ‘[Nick Robinson of ITN] asked “Are you saying that you would have behaved in an identical way to Tony Blair if faced with the same circumstances?” There was a pause which might have lasted two seconds, but seemed to go on forever. [Tony Blair’s] right eye turned to stare malevolently at Mr Brown, like some Oriental jewel that has the power to turn men’s minds. The eyebrow above it arched in a V-shape. Finally the chancellor spoke, or rather barked: “Yes!” The right eye suddenly relaxed and even seemed, just for a moment, to gaze fondly on Mr Brown. Applause broke out from the businesspersons. “Well done!” said Patricia Hewitt, sounding, as always, like a doctor congratulating a small child on surviving a jab without crying.’
November 25, 2004
[politics] Impeach Tony Blair? Not this Crazy Gang — Simon Hoggart on the attempt to impeach Tony Blair … ‘Some of us had gone along in the hopes of hearing Harold Pinter, a keen supporter of the move to impeach the prime minister. Perhaps he would read one of his poems: “‘ Bombs hurtle down. They split open the skulls of babies. George Bush fills the skulls with shit, the shit of shitty shit-covered damnation’. Thank you.” Or words to that effect. Sadly, Mr Pinter was not able to attend…’
September 29, 2004
[politics] Brimming Certainty gives way to Painful Humility — Jonathan Freedland sketch of Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference Speech. ‘…he uttered two sentences that must have caused physical pain to his throat: “The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong. I acknowledge that and accept it.” That brought some unscripted applause, a sense of relief that at last he had said what so many had longed to hear. He didn’t give the full “sorry,” but like the liberal parent who does not demand complete humiliation from a remorseful child, the Labour tribe took what they could get. The language was lawyerly – “I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong,” he said, rather than I do apologise – but he seemed to get away with it.’
March 11, 2004
[politics] Playing with Pretty-Straight-Kinda-Guy Bat — another Simon Hoggart Parliamentary Sketch. On Anne Widdecombe: ‘…the fascination for us came from watching Ms Widdecombe while [Tony Blair] failed to answer her question. Her brain appeared to lose all motor control over her body. Head, arms and legs began to fly off in wildly different directions, like a marionette manipulated by four drunken puppeteers. Weird growlings, rumblings and squeaks started to emerge. They became louder and more alarming. Imagine you were at a traction engine rally and the engine running towards you started to shake and shudder, while steam hissed out of the boiler. Suddenly the driver leaps off the seat and yells: “Save yourselves! It’s too late for me!” The Speaker had to interrupt, in the interests of public safety. “When you ask a question, it is polite to get the answer – even if you consider it not to be an answer.” This is the equivalent of fire safety officers dowsing her with foam.’
January 29, 2004
[politics] PM Revels In Gloating – And Subconscious It Isn’t — another Simon Hoggart Sketch of Tony Blair. ‘…How he gloated! He didn’t just declare that he had been vindicated, washed clean, shriven like the lamb, proved utterly moist, fragrant, and smelling of roses, but he pranced and limbo danced on the graves of his enemies. As we prepared for the blizzard outside, Mr Blair was the new Captain Gloats: “Gentlemen, I am staying here. I may be some time.” He was triumphant….’
January 27, 2004
[politics] What if? — worst-case-scenario for Tony Blair as he enters his toughest week in government … ‘Mr Blair is more likely to fall in the style of Margaret Thatcher, with his cabinet colleagues insisting he go after deciding he has lost his electoral value and is now a liability. That’s what happened to Mrs Thatcher – the last prime minister to be viewed as invincible – after she failed to beat Michael Heseltine by a big enough margin to avoid another leadership ballot.’ [via The Daily Chump]
January 23, 2004
[blogs] A couple of Simon Hoggart’s Sketches caught my eye …

  • As Morticians Gather, Blair Turns To The Cheese‘[Blair] always walks out in front of us with a great big cheesy smile on his face. I know that smile. It means: “I hate the lot of you bastards” – and who can blame him? We’re all on deathwatch. He must feel like a man in hospital who gets a visit from a polite but inquisitive class of trainee morticians.’
  • Bouncing Ken Brings The House Down‘You could ever call Mr Clarke white. His face and hands were the colour of brick, a terrific testimony to the preservative powers of pints of ale, cigarillos, and late night sessions in Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. More than a decade ago Alan Clark called him “a puffball … that pudgy life-insurance risk,” but Clark died in 1999 and Ken remains with us, pudgier than ever but still defying the actuaries. He didn’t so much approach the dispatch box as bounce up, like a space hopper in a collar and tie.’

August 29, 2003
[politics] Forever a dull moment in the very busy life of Honest Tony — Simon Hoggart on Tony Blair at the Hutton Enquiry‘What did the rest of us expect? That he would break down? “I killed Dr Kelly as surely as if it had been my hand on the knife!” But Tony Blair doesn’t do sobbing, or rueful contrition. What he does well is calm, factual, reasonable. This week we heard that Dr Kelly had been greatly stressed by the oral exam for his PhD. Tony Blair would have turned up with a ring binder, a Caffe Nero and a welcoming smile for the examiners.’
July 31, 2003
[politics] Don’t Mention The Whatever-It-Is — Simon Hoggart sketch of the press conference Tony Blair gave yesterday … ‘Outside in Downing Street it was drizzling gently, but inside it was hot and sticky. My ideal “top-down incentivised improvement” would have been to take my shirt off. We began to nod gently.’ [Related: Simon Hoggart on Byliner]
[politics] Tony Blair for President! — Blair 2004! … ‘Between the babbling of George W. Bush on the right, the blathering of the anti-war left, and the cluck-clucking of media hens everywhere, stands Tony Blair, articulate and principled. Many Americans understand and support Iraqi Freedom because of the leadership provided by Mr. Blair, and many of us would feel much safer if Mr. Blair occupied the White House.’ [via Guardian Weblog]
May 14, 2003
[politics] Blair’s Rule by Diktat — Cartoon from the Guardian by Steve Bell … ‘THE . MAS-TER . DOES . NOT . RULE . BY . DIK . TAT’
April 3, 2003
[politics] Unfazed Passenger on a Dizzying Ride — Simon Hoggart on Tony Blair … ‘Tony Blair arrived for prime minister’s questions looking quite unflustered. This is something of a feat for a man who must feel he’s in the back of a truck which is hurtling up a mountain side at 70mph, through a dozen hairpin bends, a dizzying drop first on the right, then to the left – and who is at the wheel? Donald Rumsfeld! Aaargh!’
March 20, 2003
[war] Steve Bell’s Iraq Cartoons (so far) …

Single-handedly, Jim lad! by Steve Bell.

June 7, 2001
[politics] True Colours — Joe Klien on Tony Blair… How to describe Tony Blair to a Martian: ‘On a train to Newcastle, where she was to stump for various Labour hopefuls, Mo Mowlam did a rather funny parody of how one might actually speak to a Martian: “Tony Blair is the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He is our political leader. He is young, thin, losing his hair. He is a good leader, a good family man, religious, a lawyer. He cares – and he wanted the job. He cannot be stereotyped.”‘