The office of London Mayor maybe fairly young — by British standards — but it has spawned a huge array of satirical cartoons about the two mayors we have so far elected.


One selection is notable though, for being a semi-official collection of cartoons, by Martin Rowson, who did a deal with Ken Livingstone to become the Cartoonist Laureate for London.

Payment was one pint of London Pride, to be paid for by the Mayor out of his own pocket. Currently Ken is 6 pints in arrears on his debt.

Boris isn’t much better, having agreed to extend the contract, he is also now 6 pints in arrears on the payment as he has never paid for a pint since he became Mayor.

It seems that getting paid by government officials is as difficult as ever.


Payment aside, the collection is a good historic romp through the 14 years of the London Mayor, laid out chronologically.

I like political cartoons, as they often show a side of the news coverage that is harder to glean from simply looking at the news stories themselves. They add an air of public opinion about the news at the time and reflect more often how people feel about what is going on in the world.

While satirical cartoons often mock politicians, the best are the sort that so do with a slight wry grin and nod at the absurd situation. The worst are just plain nasty.

While this exhibition probably leans slightly to the right, as I suspect Ken/Labour government comes off worse than Boris/Coalition, it’s not that noticeable a tilt.

Obviously, as a train geek with a passion for political cartoons, my eye was drawn to the transport images, which are also one of the few areas of London where the Mayor’s office has any significant sway over matters.

Although the number of early cartoons reflect the real tussle between the new London Mayor and central government over how to fund the railway.


Frankly, it’s an excellent exhibition and should leave most people nodding and smiling at remembered incidents, and occasionally wondering how they forgot that scandal or that major news story.

Actually, I am a bit annoyed with myself that I am only writing about it now, as it closes this coming Saturday (12th July), so you don’t have much time to get along to see it. Sorry about that.

The exhibition, Satirical City is at the London Building Centre, just off Tottenham Court Road.





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