And so, after 39 years of taunting the right on both sides of the pond it has come to an end. Steve Bell the Guardian’s fixated cartoonist has been given the bum’s rush. His contract is not to be renewed and he, and his crayons are out the door.
He had been great. Once. Back in the day. His best times were with Thatcher and Regan and the Falklands War (yes that long ago), and thereafter……well he slid into a pastich of himself. He failed to realise that parody works best when it attacks all sides. Sadly, he became the Guardian’s mascot, a fitting reflection of the rag’s decline, spiteful, sneering divisive, childish. Oh, the skill was still there, (albeit he was never a Gerald Scarf, nor a Trog) but in our reduced days he remains the most accomplished draftsmen in cartooning today, but his aim went off. Naïve, lefty, but yes he could draw. But that is never enough in cartooning.
He went off the boil big time, recently being given to endlessly featuring men’s behinds a la Cruikshank, and being both anti-semitic and anti-Indian was never going to be a long term position. Never a great double act if you draw for the Guardian!
As someone (and a cartoonist) with anglo indian heritage I emailed the Guardian my concerns about the cartoon. No reply has yet been received!
What finally did for bold boy was the cartoon of Home Secretary Priti Patel at the top of the page. Both racist, and sexist as well as managing to be culturally and religiously offensive. All in one frame! Brilliant. But dumb.
British Tamils called the cartoon “ anti-Hindu. It portrays the Home Secretary, of Hindu origin, as a cow. A sacred symbol for Hindus. It’s racist and misogynist. It’s plainly unacceptable! It may constitute a hate crime.”
Add in the fact that earlier the paper had to pull one set of cartoons because even they recognised they were anti-semitic, and he just had to go.
Copyright David Macadam 2020