The Art Of Politics: April Showers… Of Sleaze

by Richard Bruton

The Art Of Politics – looking at this insane world through the lenses of the world’s best political cartoonists… this month – infections, vaccinations, lockdowns easing, a return to the Troubles, more political sleaze and corruption, and the death of a Prince dominated the headlines.

Okay, from the beginning of the month, here in Britain we saw vaccination numbers go up and the infections go down, mostly because of the efficiencies of the vaccine production and the NHS in making and delivering the vaccine.

Meanwhile, each week seemed to bring a new idea from the government: there was talk of Covid vaccine passports being trialled and the prospect of free Covid tests for everyone in England – millions of them, twice a week! The trouble was, each new policy suggestion just reinforced the idea that there was no way Boris and the gang had any clear plan – it all rather seemed like more of a put it out there and see what sticks.

Ben Jennings

Brian Adcock

Speaking of dumb new ideas from the Government – as the public calls for an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic grow louder (and a mural goes up opposite parliament commemorating the Covid dead), Boris is busy putting up the flags – quite literally, with a new rule requiring government buildings to fly the Union Jack 24/7.

It’s not so much that there’s a problem with the idea in itself, after all there are plenty of countries that do the same. It’s just that there are, I would suggest, some slightly more important things to concentrate on right now.

Ben Jennings on that –

As we moved through the month, lockdown in the UK eased – shops were opened up again and restaurants & bars could serve food and drink outside (cue the idiots queuing up to have a pint in the freezing cold one minute past midnight on opening day).

Peter Schrank on lockdown easing (and the Northern Ireland troubles)…

Ah, yes, the escalating violence and disturbances in Northern Ireland – this CNN piece summarises it nicely.

Again, something that’s happening that so many knowledgeable people said could well happen in the wake of Brexit. The creation of a customs border, either between Ireland and Northern Ireland or in the North Sea was always going to seriously piss off people, something that every politician should have, would have known. But, like so much else to do with Brexit, the government have simply ignored all the smart people warning against this exact thing happening.

Peter Brookes

Steve Bell


Martin Rowson on NI and on the increasing firestorm over the evidence of those very rare blood clots in AstraZeneca vaccine patients…

Talking of the risks of blood clots with the AstraZeneca (and Johnson & Johnson) vaccine… obviously, it’s terrible that people have become ill and even died from the side effects of the vaccines, but it’s still worth pausing a moment to look at the incidence of the side effects. And there will always be side effects from any medicine.

Now, the reported incidence is somewhere in the region of five-in-one million for blood clots with the vaccine (according to the BMJ & EMA). Just to give you an idea of just how rare that is: I have to take Thyroxine for my underactive Thyroid (in lockdown the rest of my body has followed my Thyroid’s example). And Thyroxine has reported rare side effects of heart attacks and seizures, where a rare side effect is classed as an incidence of between one-in-one thousand and one-in-ten thousand people.

Brian Adcock

And more from Brian Adcock

Okay, moving on to something completely unexpected and an absolute shock to everyone who heard the news; it would appear that politicians are venal things.

Yes, first we had ex-Prime Minister and architect of everything bad that’s happening with Brexit, David Cameron. He’s had a busy time since leaving the country in the post-referendum lurch – mostly making loads and loads of money sort of busy. Except now it also seems that he may have pushed things a little too hard in lobbying Chancellor Rishi Sunak for a now-bankrupt financing company. (BBC News)

As the month wore on, the sleaze crisis ate up more and more of the news, although those of us who are old and cynical will just think it’s all just the common politician thing of having their snouts in the trough as always and nothing will happen this time to change it either.

Lorna Miller

Brian Adcock

Steve Bell

Martin Rowson – also commenting on the news that human cells have been grown in monkey embryos –

Ben Jennings

Chris Riddell

And then we had dear old Boris, who’s refused to change phones on getting to be Prime Minister, all the better to have various people phone him up or text him to lobby for their own little bit of the trough. Case in point, James Dyson, billionaire maker of hoovers, failed maker of ventilators during the Covid crisis in 2020. Allegedly Boris promised Dyson that he’d fix various tax issues for Dyson to be making the ventilators…

Peter Brookes

Nicola Jennings

Seamus Jennings

And then there was the whole decorating of Downing Street problem. Reportedly costing up to £300,000 to do up the 11 Downing Street flat (where the Prime Minister and his fiancée Carrie Symonds live), questions are being asked about where the money came from, seeing as there’s only (ONLY?) £30,000 per year from public funds to spend on the flat.

So, how did it get paid for? News reports accusing Johnson of using funds from a Conservative Party donor, Johnson saying he repaid it, and an investigation by Britain’s Electoral Commission – although Johnson has already said that he’ll have the final say on the investigation investigating him. Yes, because that’s exactly how fair, transparent politics works, isn’t it?

Nicola Jennings

Brian Adcock

And whilst we’re on the subject of ridiculously rich people looking to make themselves richer in a shameless display of greed – time for football.

Yes, the proposed European Super League that was announced Sunday 18 April and had all fallen apart within three days. Yet, the shockwaves of it all will be felt through football for a long time to come. Football fans have long, long memories after all.

The idea of the Super League was that a self-determined set of fifteen teams would play in a league, with 5 teams invited. No relegation, no threat, and therefore no real sense of achievement either, completely doing away with the basis of all football competitions since the sport began. Six English clubs, Manchester United, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal announced they’d signed contracts. Six clubs with foreign, billionaire owners who’d seen the promised extra monies and could just taste the monied pigswill in the troughs they never get their noses out of.

The fans, the pundits, the other fourteen Premier League clubs, even some of the players from those six teams, they all spoke out. Many words were thrown around, including disgraceful, shameful, greed, self-serving, snakes, and phrases such as “the rich stealing what the people created.” None of them were wrong.

It took a whole 72 hours before all six clubs withdrew. The outrage had actually worked. Many people pointed out, quite rightly, that it would be nice if football as a whole got as agitated and angry about things like the racism in the game.

Steve Bell

Two from Morten Morland

David Squires

And finally in UK news…

9th April, Prince Phillip died at the age of 99. The Queen’s husband for 73 years and the longest-serving consort in British history.

Martin Rowson

Chris Riddell

Brian Adcock

Morten Morland




Now… over in the USA…

Whilst the US is still struggling with the pandemic, life goes on… which means there’s been more mass shootings (of course – just these tend not to make more than third in the news rundown)…

Ann Telnaes

Nick Anderson

There’s been weeks of the George Floyd trial… a seemingly open and shut case of police killing a man by kneeling on his neck, followed by the news of the killing of Duante Wright by a police officer confusing their taser for a gun…

Nick Anderson again –

Pia Guerra


And even though George Floyd’s murderer was found guilty, the problems persist…

Peter Brookes

Biden’s presidency faltered early, with trouble getting bills passed and increasing problems across the Southern border meaning that it’s seen as a surge in migrants coming into the US. Well, that’s one way to look at it – another way (Washington Post) is that it’s a combination of seasonal effects and the influence on crossings due to the pandemic.

Either way, the obvious human tragedy involved is being lost in the media coverage somewhat. For example, look at this CBS news piece on a 10-year-old boy from Nicaragua asking a U.S. Border Patrol officer for help after he says he was abandoned in Texas by a group of migrants he was traveling with.

PX Molina on that…

Biden instead turned his attention to Russia, laying down the law. Hmmm…

Peter Schrank

And then announced US troops would be withdrawn from the 20 years of war in Afghanistan –

Mike Peters

The announcement led to some agitation amongst politicians, with Republican Senator Lindsay Graham suggesting that keeping troops there would avert another 9/11. Oh, politicians and their facts, eh?

Ann Telnaes – pointing out that 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers on that day were Saudi nationals…



Meanwhile, far from the troubles in the US, some would say blindly ignoring the issues, we have Washington DC politics…

Republican Matt Gaetz, member of the House of Representatives, is facing multiple allegations (NPR), including being connected, in some way, to sex trafficking, and that he ‘may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct.’ Yes, lovely.

KAL on the Republican parties issues in question…

As for Covid, the country is doing well with the vaccine, but still struggles with the concept of what the hell they’re doing all of this restricting normal life stuff for.

Case in point – The Supreme Court ruled to strike down California Covid restrictions, saying limits on home-based Bible study and prayer sessions violate constitutional rights.

Ann Telnaes on that one…

Nick Anderson

FINALLY… Something positive (well, a little bit positive at least) as Simone Lia‘s cartoon looks to the future and sees it all slowly getting better… honestly…

%d bloggers like this: