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The nats are our misfortune

Posted on January 28, 2013 by

We don’t look at British political cartoons very much, mainly because we can’t think of a consistently good one. It seems to be a lost art since the long-gone days of Angus Og, devoted less to cutting insightful and acutely-observed satirical commentary than to the altogether baser pursuit of grotesque caricature.

Even the Guardian’s much-vaunted Steve Bell leaves us stone-cold 99% of the time, and often desperately scouring the news pages to work out what the joke is supposed to be about, let alone whether it’s funny. (He’s been drawing David Cameron with a condom on his head for a fair few years now, and we still have no idea why.)

But half-awake this morning, we clicked on a link in a tweet that led us to The Scotsman’s latest effort, and it’s a sort of masterpiece, in much the same sense that while murder is a terrible thing, Harold Shipman was undeniably really good at it.

We’re going to take the unusual and unpleasant step of reproducing the image here for the purposes of discussion, because it really doesn’t deserve the traffic. This is it:

Let’s just quickly walk through the most obvious bits, shall we?

1. It’s pretty insulting to Andy Murray, on at least a couple of levels.

2. Um, what’s it actually illustrating? While Murray did at least lose a match, what terrible travails did Alex Salmond suffer last week to leave him battered and bruised and broken? We’re having some trouble bringing them to mind – the consensus of opinion right across the political spectrum was that if anyone had a tough week last week it was David Cameron and the No campaign.

3. What’s the line about “the economy” supposed to mean? Has there been some dramatic new revelation about the diastrous effects of independence on the Scottish economy that we missed? (Again, it was David Cameron who was last week being lambasted for casting businesses and investors into five years of damaging uncertainty about Europe.) Is the implication that Alex Salmond has somehow lost a tennis match against the economy? We honestly haven’t a clue what it’s getting at. Can anyone help?

4. The image notes the “latest” opinion polling as showing 34% Yes to 47% No – a deficit of 13 points. But wait a minute – didn’t the same newspaper just three days earlier report figures of 23 to 61, a gap of 38 points? If we’re to take only Scotsman articles as our guide, between the last two Mr Salmond’s cause has gained a colossal 25 points in less than half a week. Blimey, if that’s got him weeping on the floor, how many would he win in a GOOD week?

Doubtless any Unionist purchasers of the Scotsman (ie presumably all of them) will be hooting with mirth at the cartoon anyway, because of its unflattering portrayal of the First Minister. But then, that rather reinforces our original point.

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    37 to “The nats are our misfortune”

    1. muttley79 says:

      @Rev Stu
      Bell would be referring to the Coalition Government at Westminster would he not?  Con for Conservative, Dem for L Democrats.  ConDem is another name for the coalition.  Condem becomes Condom.  Maybe means Conservative dominated, and as a means of humour?

    2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      No. He was drawing Cameron as a condom long before the coalition, IIRC. (EDIT: Yeah, here he is explaining it.)

    3. Keef says:

      Well spotted with the ConDem Muttley. If you see Cameron as a ‘ned’ though you get ConDemned. Which just about sums them up.

    4. Stuart Black says:

      Martin Rowson is to my mind far better than Bell, and he also has a refreshing take on Scottish Independence (Bell is predictably against). Here’s a couple of Mr. Rowson’s efforts featuring Alex Salmond. As ever with Rowson, there are lots of things going on, keep looking.

    5. Ally says:

      Could he be referring to the ***k Head???

    6. James McLaren says:


      or Bellend if we are being all medical 

    7. domhnall dods says:

      no no no, David Cameron had a good week, I just heard them say so on the Daily Politics – must be true. 
      My only excuse is I work from home and I watch it at lunch time – it’s mildly diverting. 


    8. Stephen Boswell says:

      is the condom there to say that Cameron is a d##khead? and perhaps the economy reference has something to do with their slant on the Irish meeting?

    9. Seanair says:

      When I used to read the Scotsman I thought its 2 alleged cartoonists were the worst I’ve ever come across. Cartoonists are supposed to bring a fresh view of events, but in the Scotsman you could get a “news” story, a Leader and a cartoon all on the same day and theme–no collusion there then!
      What also amazed me was that these 2 characters seemed to win awards for “Best cartoonist”!
      Still crap I see from your example.

    10. TheGreatBaldo says:

      I think I read Bell saying somewhere he thought Cameron looked like Nemo (fae Disney’s ‘Finding Nemo’) in a condom…..

      As I recall when he originally unveiled his ‘Cameron’ it did indeed look like Nemo in a condom…..

      As always ‘The Day Today’ summed the woefulness of Political cartoons brilliantly….

      Meet ‘Brant’ and his pomposity pistol….

    11. FreddieThreepwood says:

      My memory is that Bell started doing Cameron with a condom on his head as soon as the then leader of the opposition began selling himself as the ‘safe’, ‘unthreatening’ face of conservatism.

    12. Yesitis says:

      Och well, at least the the BBC in Scotland is allowing comments on an issue of great importance to all Scots.

    13. cadgers says:

      I alway though it was because Cameron is a wanker (may I say that?)

    14. Alex Grant says:

      I thought it was ‘dickhead’?

    15. Seasick Dave says:

      We all love Scotland, you know.

      Can’t you take a joke? 

      No really, the Scotch are great people, its just that Salmond is a fat dictator blah, blah… 

      Better together, that’s what I say.

    16. Seasick Dave says:

      Every time I go to Edinburgh Airport, I always put any freebie Scotsman newspapers in the bin.

      Just to keep the place tidy you understand. 

      I’ll be there tomorrow so will make a special effort 🙂

    17. Training Day says:


      Worrying news.  I’m concerned that if hedges are not allowed to grow above a certain height then cats might not get stuck in them, thus depriving Reporting Scotland of its main headline.

    18. Semus says:

      I have to thank Mgt Thatcher I was drawing cartoons,I still am for three Czech magazines, (I drew Schwarzenberg as Brettschneider…Czech joke)  but Thatcher made me into a bitter caricaturist.No body wanted my work except the Cork Examiner of Haughey Fitzgerald 3 elections in 18 months with caption of “I stepped in and I stepped out again.” under the headline. from the ed .”It is often said a country gets the government it deserves.Well Ireland thinks she doesn’t deserve either of them”.
      Maybe I should come out of hibernation.You have my Czech e mail address.This can be explained.I think I may be able to find some , yes I can send you some work to see if you would like.I do not know how to contact you.I am the bastard that hates football

    19. Yesitis says:

      @Training Day
      Yes, it is a major concern. I knew this story was going to break big this morning; I had a restless night worrying about it 🙂

      Technically, I would say it is a case of the BBC in Scotland taking the piss.

    20. M4rkyboy says:

      It’s because he’s a posh wank

    21. Seasick Dave says:

      Re hedges, this is a serious business dontcha know?

      Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Leylandii…

      The plant’s rapid growth (up to a metre per year), great potential height, often over 20 metres (66 ft) tall in garden conditions, they can reach at least 35 metres (115 ft), and heavy shade can make them a problem.

      In 2005 in the United Kingdom, an estimated 17,000 people were at loggerheads over high hedges, which led to violence and in at least one case murder, when in 2001, retired Environment Agency officer Llandis Burdon, 57, was shot dead after an alleged dispute over a leylandii hedge in Talybont-on-Usk, Powys.

      The Scotsman headline will be NAT ATTACK ON BRITISH LEYLANDII

    22. Chic McGregor says:

      Don’t get the relevance of the headline or the Nazi cartoon.  Has this actually been produced somewhere else in connection with independence?

    23. Craig M says:

      Well thank goodness that I don’t buy the Scotsman.
      I’m still supporting Independence and I still think that Mr Salmond, along with the SNP Government, is a breath of fresh air in the dreary world of UK politics. 
      The Scotsman can’t influence me with it’s poor journalistic standards.
      I wonder how their sales figures are going?


    24. Boorach says:

      Completely ot but I would reccomend the play currently on radio 4 ‘Orwell in Burma’ for a complete explanation for why westminster is so comitted to fighting against  the ‘yes’ campaign.

    25. James McLaren says:

      Nice one Craig

    26. Training Day says:

      @Seasick Dave

      “The Scotsman headline will be NAT ATTACK ON BRITISH LEYLANDII”

      I’ll go for “Salmond deforestation programme ‘worse than Agent Orange’ “

    27. Yesitis says:

      @Rev Stu
      I just had a keek at the new Sealand Gazette; a very necessary evil. A worthy but thoroughly depressing read.
      It hits the spot.

    28. BillDunblane says:

      I have always found the Scotsman cartoons singularly unfunny – at least if there is some humour involved, we can laugh at ourselves. – Maybe there is something in them that I just don’t get? – And as Seanair posted, how they won awards is totally beyond belief.

      I would post a comment rarely asking pretty much the same questions you have, but as often as not, mine would be the only comment, or be joined only by the infamous ‘Charles L*******’ – not a good position to be in!

      Up until a couple of months ago, the Independent had by far (to me at least) the sharpest and funniest, occasionally saddest, cartoons, even the odd time they poked fun at Alex, it was funny. – But they seem to have changed slightly, and are mixing various cartoonists, and only keeping some of them available full size.

    29. The Rough Bounds. says:

      That cartoon just isn’t funny. It’s neither sardonic nor satirical. It’s simply crap.
      What it does do is insult Andy Murray, Scotland, Alex Salmond and all the people who voted SNP at the last Scottish general election.
      So by extension this guy’s cartoon insults me and my family. I am not amused!

    30. BillyBigBaws says:


      BBC Scotland are basically trolling us at this point, and pretty flagrantly too. I genuinely find this upsetting. They are supposed to provide a public service, which we all pay good money for on pain of arrest. And yet, they have the barefaced cheek to allow public comments on one single political thread in the last six months – and it is about high hedges? What are they playing at? Who is this supposed to amuse?

      Recently, Atos told a disabled woman with double incontinence that she should go to work wearing a nappy. Just yesterday a Tory think-tank proposed that the relatives of hospital patients should be made responsible for bathing them and ensuring they have water to drink – and that this should be mandatory. Another Tory councillor tells us that we shouldn’t donate to food banks as it will only give the poor more money to spend on “cigarettes and alcohol.” What is going on here?

      Not only is the UK government acting like a band of internet trolls, but so is our national state broadcaster. Time to sell the TV I reckon.

    31. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      To whoever keeps posting “test” posts containing only the letter “d”, can you please stop? None of them will get through. If you’ve got something to post, post it. Thanks.

    32. Cameron says:

      @ BillyBigBaws
      What you just described is the natural consequence of neoliberalism. An ideology that protects the banks, first and always. As to the TV, I got rid of mine over 20 years ago. Best thing I have ever done.

    33. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Don’t get the relevance of the headline or the Nazi cartoon.”

      “The Jews Are Our Misfortune” was a fairly famous Nazi propaganda slogan. The cartoon is from Der Sturmer, the vile Nazi propaganda paper which regularly ran cartoons portraying Jewish people as grotesque caricatures in order to demonise them, and in which the visual depiction was far more important than the ostensible topic of the individual cartoon.

    34. thejourneyman says:

      This is the Scotsman’s way of reporting the latest polling figures without having to draw attention to the lower figures they made so much noise about only days before. The result is, their cartoon is redundant as AS has already bounced back by 11 points in the same period?

    35. BillyBigbaws says:

      @ Cameron, I agree, this is neoliberalism in action. I’ve payed my protection money to the BBC for this year, but they can whistle for it in 2014.

      Just occurred to me what BBC Scotland’s motivation might be in opening that one, single, High Hedges Bill story for comments, while simultaneously barring us from discussing the referendum or the Edinburgh Agreement on their site. It may be calculated to enrage us, in hopes we will lodge many official complaints (as I intend to do). Then they can spin it as a bunch of laughable paranoid CyberNats getting angry over a story about hedges. It might help them in portraying our (well-founded) worries over ongoing BBC censorship and bias as being fundamentally non-serious. “Look at them all, howling over a story on overgrown privets!”

      Nevertheless, complaint is necessary. This could only have been a deliberate, calculated insult to every license fee payer in the country.

    36. Derick says:

      BBB nah, it’s just to show us what a pretendy wee parliament we have that gets all het up over hedges while IMPORTANT STUFF happens elsewhere. 

    37. Stocky Al says:

      Let’s look at Adcock’s building blocks.

      1.  High-profile Scottish person is defeated.
      2.  A poll, the results of which suit the unionists and their house journal.
      3.  The “economy” is apparently more important to pollees than independence. 
      4.  This week’s unionist ploy is to pretend that the Yes campaign has disintegrated.

      I don’t think that Brian Adcock has any strong Scottish political views – in fact, I’m not sure he’s even Scottish.  I seem to remember reading something about Great Yarmouth, although I can’t Google anything about this just now.  

      He’s just a competent draughtsman with a mortgage who has studied what his customer wants and is happy to accept cash for some hackwork cartooning-by-numbers.  Who the hell cares?  Not my money, because I don’t buy the Scotsman.  We’ll all have forgotten this by this time next week.

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