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


Twickenham canvassing-2   Twickenham canvassing-3   Twickenham canvassing

Sunday 12th April 2015 , Twickenham.

Lib Dem canvassing afternoon with Vince Cable.

Vince Cable is running again as the Lib Dem candidate in the family friendly seat of Twickenham. He has represented the constituency as its MP since 1997.

I’m told by staff at his constituency office that he and a group of Liberal Democrat volunteers will be mustering at Fulwell station before meeting local people on the doorsteps of 4 nearby streets.

Canvassing is a carefully coordinated process which identifies the correct doorbells to ring, specific voters who might need a prod on the 7th May and ‘the holy grail’, constituents with placard worthy gardens.

There are enough members of the Twickenham Lib Dem team to facilitate a fast paced door stepping operation . I find myself making a lot of sketches of Mr Cable’s back as he races up pretty, tree lined streets or stands expectantly under front porches.

Within a gated driveway I make a sketch of Mr Cable seen from over the soft top of a brand new Mini Cooper as he receives words of support from the vehicles’ well heeled driver. I notice the ‘Vince’s canvassing bag ‘ luggage label hanging from his yellow rucksack. He canvasses most days.

Mr Cable tells me that speaking directly to the voters, face to face, is still the best way to win support for when Election Day comes around.

Canvassing with Vince Cable


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


UKIP Launch Smith Square 30th March-1    line up UKIP Launch St Margaret's Bay Tues 31st March 2015   UKIP Launch St Margaret's Bay Tues 31st March 2015

UKIP posters unveiled in Smith Sq London, Mon 30th March and the Coastguard Pub , St Catherine’s Bay, Dover.

UKIP’s poster launch events present my first opportunity to sketch a proper ‘media scrum’. This peculiar amorphous organism forms once Nigel Farage, the party leader, has unveiled the UKIP campaign posters and made a short speech.

The tangle of photographers cameramen sound operators, notebook clutching hacks, step ladders and boom microphones pulsates like a kind of outdoor-wear clad jellyfish. Drawing this number of flapping arms, legs and heads in a few seconds is a bit tricky. A photographer in a bobble hat helps to give this fleece lined mass a bit of personality. The long microphone booms arched over Farage with the church of St John in Smith Sq behind him make the scene look like a crazed wedding ceremony.

In the car park of ‘the Coastguard ‘pub, St Margaret’s Dover UKIP candidates and supporters stand in front of the covered advertising van, posters turned crotch-wards like the line up of a political balloon dance troupe.

The best thing to draw about Nigel Farage are his clothes. Waxed jacket, cotton hunting shirt, mustard cords. The rabbits on his tie are too tiny a detail to make apparent in my quick sketches.

I don’t get to draw Nigel with his trademark pint of bitter in the coastguard pub afterwards  as he orders a coffee.

UKIP events


East London Mosque 28th March-2 East London Mosque 28th March ' guided tour of the religion' East London Mosque 28th March ' bereaved cousins' 

Saturday 28th March 2015

Whilst  the East London Mosque has no particular political affiliation, many political figures have made special visits to Whitechapel High St to address the 7,000 constituency of individual voters who worship at the mosque each Friday. During Ramadan numbers double.

Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Prince Charles have all visited.

George Galloway MP for Bethnal Green and Bow  prior to the 2010 election found much support amongst the East London Sylheti Muslim population. His party office was next to my home. During canvassing I’d often open the curtains to be greeted by him standing smoking a cigar on the upper deck of his open top ‘Respect’ bus.

The East London Mosque open day was a good opportunity for me to speak to representatives of the Mosque about local and national political issues and to comfortably make some drawings of members of the mosque’s community en masse.

East London Mosque Open Day


 3.Labour  Launch 'steeled sinews'    2. Labour  Launch ' Dynamic lecturn-craft'    1. Labour  Launch 'Student send-off'

Friday 27th March 2015

The Labour Campaign Launch : Queen Elizabeth I Olympic Park , Stratford , London.

The Labour Party launch their election campaign at the Olympic Park , Stratford . It’s a very good location , not just because it’s near my studio.

The wide pedestrian avenues that lead from Stratford shopping centre to the ArcelorMittal tower are deserted though there’s possibly someone in the ‘Top Gear Experience’ simulator. It’s ‘Stig’ adorned cabin jerks back and forth .

There are a couple of chaps carrying heavy tripods in the distance, a good sign that a ‘media-event’ is nearby.

At the top of the tower an impressive panorama of London is the backdrop to the Labour leader’s lectern. The members of the opposition are to enter  through a well ordered phalanx of casually dressed  students.

I have time to make a few sketches of the labour supporters getting in position. In my sketch I try  to include  the white lines on the floor that have been laid out to help choreograph the event. The viewing gallery is not a huge space and is soon packed.

Ed Milliband is introduced by an NHS nurse, Agnes Brown. She is wearing a flattering rose coloured  chiffon scarf which will stand out nicely in the middle of my sketch when I come to add colour. Even more so will Tessa Jowell in vivid tangerine.

I draw Ed Milliband in his characteristic forward jutting , lectern hugging pose and include  a yellow crane behind him.

The red steel of the Mittal tower appears in the window behind the leader of the opposition like a big red cross, a mark on the ballot paper or symbol of something else?

I meet a labour supporter outside called Simeon. I’d drawn him earlier in his smart blue tailored suit and tweed cap, alone on the canal side.

I show him the drawing, he says he looks lonely so I draw him again as part of the band of banner wavers who, under the big red oxide cloche at the base of the tower, cheer the members of the shadow cabinet onto their windowless battle bus and into the yellow crane lined electioneering battlefield.

The Labour Party Campaign Launch