Posting my 'daily cartoon' the next day is the worst part of drawing them. Firstly, it's a mark that you're finished with one and that you have to start another. Secondly, you hope for feedback saying it's the best cartoon you've ever drawn when the reality is that it's barely looked at and, even when it is looked at, it's often passed over with a shrug of the shoulders. This feels particularly bad when you do happen to think that it is the best cartoon you've ever drawn...
Last night's was one of those rare cartoons when I thought I'd ticked my personal boxes. Perhaps I'm just pleased because my cross hatching worked out and that the cartoon tried to say something. I don't know if I can judge. The left side could do with more work and I'm not satisfied with colour. It looked good in black and white but colour, for me, distracts. Yet colour is expected so I needed to add some...
I've been providing some cartoons for Tim Marshall's new venture over at The What and the Why. Because the focus is on international affairs, I've been trying to spot cartoons with a world theme. It's not always easy but it's helpful to me because it forces me to draw things and people I wouldn't normally be drawn to satirise or even think about. Today's cartoon was different. A vain president jailing cartoonists would always draw my attention. Apparently Turkey's Erdogan doesn't like to be ridiculed (explanatory BBC news report in the link), which seems like an eminently good reason to ridicule him. My first attempt was probably a stretch too far. I started drawing jowls and, naturally, I thought I'd see how far I could take them. By 11pm last night, I realised I'd probably taken them too far so I tried again.
As I redrew the majority of the cartoon, I watched the challenger's debate from earlier in the evening, followed by hours of analysis. Some of it made sense. Much of it didn't. The parties were engaged in their typical spin operations and sometimes even the strongest will struggles to avoid following their bad logic down the rabbit hole of political bias.
I thought the biggest loser of the evening was (surprisingly) David Cameron. I hadn't expected the Prime Minister's absence to hurt him so bad. Yet listening to him claiming credit for the debate earlier in the day was simply nauseating. He spoke of unblocking the logjam when he'd been the cause of the logjam in the beginning. It made the resulting debate feel like justice in that it was an hour and a half of solid government bashing. No having somebody on the stage to defend their record might well be one of the biggest miscalculations of the election. It was bruising stuff.
Of the participants, my verdict was as follows.
Miliband didn't need to do much and just stay clear of trouble. He'd won the evening by simply turning up. What followed was, to use a cricket metaphor, a display of playing every ball with straight bat. He never looked like edging a ball to slip but, then, his opponents were hardly steaming in with their fastest deliveries. He ensured his victory at the end by challenging Cameron to a debate. It was a win-win move. If Cameron refuses, he looks week and undemocratic. If he accepts, Miliband gets to debate with Cameron who seems singularly uninterested into entering into any democratic process. From Cameron's point of view, he can't win either way but I think he stands more of a chance by debating.
I can't explain why I have a soft spot for Bennett. Everything should go against her: that accent, those policies, a few woeful performances in various media spotlights. Yet each time she stands up to speak, I find myself surprised by how much I both like her and how much I agree with her. She was the only person to speak up for people who are too sick to be considered 'hardworking'. That, for me, spoke volumes. I know the Green manifesto is filled with risible nonsense. Andew Neil has done enough this election to prove that. However, Bennett has a knack of speaking about things which the other parties don't address. Not sure any of that makes sense but I'm not sure I can explain why Bennett keeps impressing me.
Wood attempted to relive her success of the opening leader's debate and she probably suffered for that. She seemed eager to lay into Farage, no doubt knowing it was the thing that she was praised for the last time they met. Beyond that, she spoke to her audience in Wales and about that I'm not really qualified to comment. She doesn't have that connection to English voters that Sturgeon has oddly seemed to have fashioned.
People have constantly praised her performance throughout the campaign's debates but last night was the first time I sat up and thought she was something special. She repeatedly had the best answers on the night, though perhaps too few hard questions were directed her way. I can see why she appeals to so many. She has become the face of the election and has replaced Farage as the fashionable outsider that non-voters would like to vote for if they're in England and will vote for if they're north of the border.
Nigel 'Nige' Farage
Not so much a one-trick pony as a pony who has learned a few good tricks which he performs every time he's trotted out onto the national stage. Last night was more of the same from Nige. His tactic is clear. He wants to lose the studio but win the living room. Turning on the audience was probably a masterstroke. He obviously needed the boos to make his point. He wanted to portray himself as the man who speaks for the common folk who never get their opinions aired on TV. He summed it up with his line about 'I say what many of you are probably thinking'. He effectively acknowledged that ninety percent of the people in the room would dislike him and never vote UKIP. He took that fact and turned it to his advantage, reaching out to his core voters to remind them why UKIP is different to the rest.