26th April Labour Almeida event-5 26th April Labour Almeida event 26th April Labour Almeida event-2 26th April Labour Almeida event-1

26th April 2015

Almeida Theatre , Islington, London / Labour Party International Development Event.

The London Borough of Islington will for me always remain synonymous with the birth of New Labour in the 1990’s.

The Almeida Theatre, todays venue for a Labour Party ‘International Development’ event’, has been at the centre of Islington cultural life since the early 80’s. The theatre with its dramatic red and yellow painted stucco balconies and pillars makes for a lively backdrop as I sketch the metropolitan audience of party supporters.

Prior to the appearance of the party leader, TV star Ross Kemp introduces a roster of special guests. Labour’s Secretary of State for International Development , Mary Creagh is followed by Baroness Amos and actresses Emily Berrington and Adjoa Andoh. With quite a lot of squinting I try to make some drawings of the speakers from a dark aisle in the stalls.

After Ed Milliband’s speech a small crowd wait in the foyer. I notice the former labour leader Neil Kinnock at the theatre bar and make a drawing of the scene. Ross Kemp is ordering a drink at the far end so I add him to the design as a quick crayon squiggle.

I try to make a picture of a fleeting moment when a young woman places her palm on the labour leaders chest as her and a friend speak with him. Like a lot of these rapid sketches it ends up looking not a lot like Ed Milliband but does capture the sentimental moment.



Labour party International Development Event


Boris Johnson at Lynch   Boris Johnson at Lynch-2   Boris Johnson at Lynch-3

24th April 2015

Boris Johnson, London Conservative Pledgecard launch at Lynch Plant Hire and walkabout in Stanmore.

When managing director Liam Lynch asked his staff to guess which special guest would be visiting the Lynch Plant Hire Warehouse in Stanmore, Boris Johnson was second on their list, The Queen was top.

The employees, who sat within the orange embrace of several huge mechanical digger arms, were shy at first in coming forward with questions. But as soon Mr Johnson had finished his old style, rousing, call and response style oratory they thronged around The Mayor of London to have him sign their ‘pledge cards’ and pose for mandatory campaign ‘selfies’.

Boris Johnson was visiting Stanmore to lend support to the local Consevative candidate Bob Blackman. Surrounded by placard wielding supporters, the pair greeted surprised shoppers in the Sainsbury’s before processing up the High street, a knot of bluster and activity. Trendy teenagers engaged the Mayor in some youthful banter whilst an elderly lady quizzed the local candidate as to when the new zebra crossing would appear.

I made some lightening speed sketches of Boris as he zipped in and out of several hairdressers, posed beneath heart shaped balloons in a party paraphernalia shop, had his photo taken in a local butchers and bought a bag of chips for the entourage. ‘Actually I can’t let you have these chips’ he joked ‘that would be a breach of electoral rules’.

The Mayor was keen to see my sketchbook, ‘Wow, You’ve got me there, and it was all happening so quickly ’ he remarked before jumping on the underground back to City Hall at the same whirlwind pace.

Conservative Pledge Card Launch


Brighton Green Party event-3  Brighton Green Party event-2  Brighton Green Party event-1

Monday 13th April 2015.

Green Party poster launch and photo call with Brian May.

Gently sloping North Street in Brighton’s North Lanes feels just like the heartland of Green party politics as painted by it’s pedestrian and commercial population.

Independent restaurants selling farm fresh breakfasts vastly outnumber the usual generic chains. The Green Party’s latest ‘ Vote Big, Vote Brave’ billboard hangs above a ‘pottery cafe’ where parents of ‘all ages and abilities’ can cast their babies feet in plaster. Big blue whales are painted on the outside wall and a good natured press call runs smoothly apart from the occasional polite disturbance of retro mustached Morris Minor drivers nudging their rusting vehicles through the tripods and green banners.

Caroline Lucas, hoping for re-election as the MP for Brighton pavilion hosts a visit by party leader Natalie Bennett. Both are good to sketch as they wear distinctive, smart and quite ‘individualistic’ outfits. Fairly unusual for political candidates.

I make a quick drawing of Natalie Bennett on her way back to Brighton Station as she is button-holed by a voter wanting confirmation about the Green’s immigration policy. Spotting her from his car, the chap puts on his hazard lights and joins the party leader on the pavement to describe his personal situation.

At lunchtime the beautifully restored Brighton Bandstand and Old Pier shrouded in freezing cold mist provide a traditional seaside backdrop for a speech on ‘Common Decency’ by guitarist of rock band Queen and animal rights campaigner Brian May. His hair is as good to sketch as I imagined it might be, though his other rock star trademark, the dark glasses he explains, are a post eye-op necessity rather than a badge of cool.

There is no more effective way of picturing distant seagulls than as the visually cliched ‘parenthesis’ of childhood seaside drawings. I realise this whilst adding a couple to my view of campaigning in Brighton in the absence of any visible seaside. Brian May dons a heavy overcoat and obligingly strikes numerous guitar hero/political enthusiast poses for the press and media.

Green Party poster launch


RUSI, Fallon defence speech-1   RUSI, Fallon defence speech-3   RUSI, Fallon defence speech-2

Friday 11th April 2015

Michael Fallon outlines the Conservative party view of defence at The Royal United Services Institute.

The RUSI was established in 1831 by The Duke of Wellington for the study of ‘the art of war’. His bust greets members of the ‘think tank’ and interested parties as they enter its splendid Whitehall headquarters.

I draw some of Michael Fallon’s hand gestures as he outlines the conservative view on defence. They are used sparingly and have a guarded quality.

Members of the RUSI ask pertinent questions and there is gravitas to this electioneering event which is not always so evident.

Michael Fallon at the Royal United Services Institute


National Grid event 9th April  National Grid event 9th April-1  National Grid event 9th April-3

 Thursday 9th April 2015

David Cameron at The National Grid Training Centre. Newark on Trent.

The apprentice training space in which The Conservative Party leader is due to speak today is dominated by the giant X805 circuit breaker and a tall tower of brown ceramic insulators.

David Cameron addresses the audience in the round after a brief introduction from business tsar Karen Brady, who looks after the PM’s jacket.

Drawing Cameron is made easier by the 360 degree format as he has to keep swivelling round to display emphatic hand gestures to all assembled.

Earlier, on a mezzanine walkway above the action I noticed 3 balding bespectacled chaps in wire framed specs and white lab coats. I’d tried to make a swift drawing of them thinking they looked like a trio of ‘Bunsen Honeydews’ the muppet chemist. Unfortunately I was ushered through a door  before I’d had a chance to do so but I did find a good view of the arrival of the ministerial car from the window of   the ‘media holding pen ‘.

Surveying the Nottinghamshire landscape I wondered if the distant Y shaped metal  tower might be an example of  the very latest in pylon design which had been reported on today by the ‘ Pylon Appreciation Society ‘.

David Cameron at the National Grid Training Centre


Scotland April 2015-7  Scotland April 2015-6  Scotland April 2015-9

Easter Monday 6th April 2015

Celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath, Arbroath Abbey.

The 6th of April is Tartan day in the Angus region of Scotland.

 I imagine that my coming to make some drawings at an event staged to commemorate the assertion of Scottish independence from England would be pertinent in the light of the SNP’s  present ambitions during the 2015 election campaign.

 I also  imagine that a stroll to the harbour to try the famous hot Arbroath ‘smokies’ is another good reason to visit this small East Coast fishing town.

There are no politicians in tartan or otherwise at the historic 11th Century Abbey today.

An historian dressed as a monk conducts a tour of the Abbey ruins, parts of which are hardly ruins at all. The re-enactment of  King Robert’s assertion of sovereignty and plea to Pope Pius XXll involves similar kinds of dress up.

 The costumes and funny hats are all very good to draw but the copy of the declaration of Arbroath is signed, sealed and flapped about at such a speed that it makes it difficult for me to get down on paper the passage of the document that is said to have been the model for the US Declaration of Independence.

The local SNP MP for Angus is Mike Weir. I look him up on twitter and find he’s just posted a photograph of a sparrow having a drink at a bird bath in his Angus garden.

Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath


Scotland April 2015  Scotland April 2015-2  Scotland April 2015-3

12.30 Saturday 4th April 2015

SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon addresses a ‘Scrap Trident ‘ demo in George Square, Glasgow.

Surrounded by civic architectural splendour, George Sq, Glasgow, is filled with a dedicated, enthusiastic, and huge number of ‘anti-trident missile’ protestors. They promote an imminent ‘blockade’ of the west coast, Faslane, nuclear missile base.

My train arrives at Queen St station opposite the square  just in time for me to see the Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon address the flag waving crowd. I draw a few of them. OAP’s with CND badges pinned to their woolly hats berate the members of the press pen, especially those from the BBC. ‘We’ll come to London and burn down your houses ‘ they shout.

Nicola Sturgeon has tiny hands. She uses pointy gestures, holds up single or double digits whilst delivering her message and  often clenches both fists with elbows held close to her well cut platinum-blue jacket. She is very popular with the nationalist crowd who wave saltires overlaid with the number 45.

I climb up onto the plinth of Prince Albert’s equestrian statue and make some drawings of Mrs Sturgeon surrounded by press photographers.

This is the first occasion during the 2015 election campaign period that  I’ve been able to witness and capture the phenomenon of a candidate creating any kind of ‘political fervour ‘. Members of the crowd who I speak to after the SNP leader has left refer to her as  ‘Oor Nicola ‘ and rail against negative representations of her in the press.

SNP in Glasgow