johnminnion.com

Politics in the Times

Illustrations for Anthony Howard’s column

Tony Howard was one of the most respected political pundits of newspaper journalism. I appreciated his depth of perspective, and found his detachment more comfortable to work with than some of the more jaundiced eyes of New Statesman writers.

Centre ground parties wait in perpetual hope for the arrival of PR – proportional representation – their only hope of attaining power. Roy Jenkins officiates, Paddy Ashdown stands impatiently with tearful bride Charles Kennedy. I gave the original of this to Tony Howard when our association ended. It appealed to him partly because his father had been a clergyman.
It was Willie Whitelaw who complained about Harold Wilson ‘going around the country stirring up apathy’. We had plenty of it in the later Blair years. Here with the 2001 election coming up it looks as if this suited Hague more than it suited Blair. Turnout was below 60% for the first time since the war.
I was delighted when Tony Howard occasionally gave me the chance to draw characters from earlier times. Here, he argues, William Hague is Harold Wilson in Tory clothing. Not just in their (deceptive) blunt Yorkshireman personas, but their shared conviction that provided you look after the tactics, the strategy will take care of itself.
Tories launch their election campaign with little faith in Hague or themselves.
Blair, Kennedy and Hague try to use television in the 2001 Election campaign. But does television control them? Tony Howard comments, ‘Far from TV giving British politics the kiss of life, it has over the last 40 years virtually drained the lifeblood out of the domestic political process.’
Mo Mowlam is handed the Black Spot and has to fight for her ministerial career.
The rabbit warren that is No.10 Downing Street
Michael Portillo attends to his image.
David Owen and Roy Jenkins stake rival claims for being the original Blairite.