Cancel culture cartoon


A cartoon about cancel culture and historical thought crimes.

This cartoon is about the current (2020) phenomenon of cancel culture. This is the concept by which a person is ostracized or shunned if they are judged to hold unapproved views or have attitudes that run counter to those of the arbiters of what are acceptable views. It is a subsection of woke culture.

Cancel culture is responsible for such phenomena as no platforming, where people with proscribed views are denied the ability to put their views forward for debate, particularly in universities.
It is often applied to people based on attitudes that they held in the past. By this criterium practically everyone on the planet should be cancelled, which is one of the points of this cartoon. The saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” comes to mind.
Cancel culture is often applied to historical figures from several centuries ago, particularly (at the moment) to those involved in some way in the transatlantic slave trade, and is manifested in the current campaigns to remove statues.
Cancel culture can be viewed as having a stifling effect on culture and debate, with its, to me, zealously censorious woke attitudes and its Orwellian implications.

Drawn: 7th July 2020

Cartoon reference: a815
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Erasing the offensive past, followed by erasing the offensive present.

Erase the attitudes of the past cartoon

A cartoon about erasing the past because of its flaws, then erasing the present because of its flaws.

This cartoon is about the current trend (2020) for some groups to want to erase evidence of the parts of the past that they find offensive. This is manifested in the pulling down of statues of people who had links to the slave trade.
The point of the cartoon is that I think that such attitudes and approaches are misguided, as they require a (selective) moral purity that is impossible in a complex world full of complex people. The wish to erase the moral imperfections of the past would lead to the wish to erase the moral imperfections of the present, and in an imperfect world full of imperfect people the consequences of that could be a form of repression not dissimilar to some of the religious and political repressions of the past. Bear in mind that people are still capable of creating repressive societies in the misguided belief that they are doing a good thing – people don’t change, just their situation.
The imagery in the cartoon is based on the Bonfire of the Vanities – the burning of objects that the church considered sinful, such as books, art and mirrors which happened in Florence, Italy in 1497. It also relates to book burning by the nazis in Germany and the destruction of degenerate or subversive objects in other states ranging from communist regimes to the Taliban.

Drawn: 3rd July 2020
Cartoon reference: a813
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Boris Johnson losing control

Boris Johnson control government cliff edge cartoon

Cartoon showing Boris Johnson losing control of the country and the government

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sitting in a go-cart hurtling over the edge of a cliff.
Johnson is holding a steering wheel as though he is steering the cart, but the steering wheel isn’t attached.
He is sounding very optimistic and up-beat all the same. Delusional optimism.
The cartoon plays on Boris Johnson’s jokey, boyish, playful personna.

Original (Brexit) version drawn: March 2017
This version drawn: 2nd July 2020
Cartoon reference: a812
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

The danger of declining to take a knee – cartoon

Take a knee cartoon

A cartoon about the possible danger of refusing to take a knee

Taking a knee is a gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Some people, while sympathetic to the cause of tackling racism, feel that they wouldn’t want to take a knee themselves, either because they don’t agree with all of the aims of BLM or because they feel uncomfortable with there being any obligation to enact the gesture, especially because they feel that the gesture contains some elements of supplication (or that if it doesn’t actually contain those elements now, it may well evolve so that it does in the future). Supplication implies adherence to the cause or a pledge of allegiance rather than simple recognition of it or solidarity with it.
The British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, today (18th June 2020) expressed opinions along these lines, stating that he thought the act contained elements of submission. He has been criticised quite widely for this attitude.
The cartoon shows someone being hit in the face by a custard pie, a metaphor for being ridiculed or humiliated.

Drawn: 18th June 2020
Cartoon reference: a809
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

The campaign for the removal of controversial statues – cartoon

Taliban guide to statue destruction cartoon

A cartoon about the campaigns to remove statues of controversial figures (which I call the Down with Statues campaign).

The cartoon is a comment on the righteous zeal of the protesters who are demanding that statues of controversial figures, especially (or maybe exclusively?) those with links to the slave trade, colonialism and imperialism, be removed from public spaces because the statues are judged to be offensive.
The cartoon questions the implications of an excess of righteous zeal, as it can be used to justify extreme acts and extremism in general.
The cartoon draws attention to the destruction of the Buddhas of Banyam by the Taliban in 2001 and the destruction of artefacts in Iraqi museums by ISIS in 2003, both acts that were motivated at least partly by righteous zeal aimed at objects that the perpetrators deemed offensive. Parallels can also be made with other iconoclastic movements.
A cartoon about intolerance, self-righteousness, iconoclasm,

Drawn:18th June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a808
How to search for cartoons by subject

Offensive and approved terms in politically correct and woke language – cartoon

politically correct and woke culture cartoon

A cartoon about the concept that the use of any term that is not politically correct or woke-approved to define race or gender is offensive.

This cartoon is about the tendency within woke culture for the use of unapproved terms to describe people, especially in the spheres of race and gender politics, to be viewed as offensive and open to condemnation, even if used innocently.
The terms that are approved and disapproved sometimes change quite regularly, so it can be hard to keep up.
Notice that I’m not giving any examples of approved or disapproved terms here, in case I inadvertently get it wrong. Also, as the cartoon states, to merely mention a disapproved term as an example is viewed as offensive itself.
At the time of drawing this cartoon the tendency to police language for political purity seems to be on the rise, however it’s been there for as long as I remember. In fact I drew my first cartoon about it in the 1980s.
A cartoon about woke language, political correctness, linguistic purity, Orwellian language, political purity.

Drawn:16th June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a807
How to search for cartoons by subject

Judging historical figures by contemporary standards

statue toppling cartoon

A cartoon about toppling statues.

This cartoon is about the judging of historical figures by modern standards of ethics and morality.
The cartoon was drawn during a campaign of statue toppling in 2020 that started with the toppling of a statue of Edward Colston in Bristol. Colston made money in the slave trade. His statue was erected to celebrate his later philanthropic donations.
The cartoon attempts to illustrate the problem of judging historical figures by the moral and ethical standards of today by showing the absurd (and hopefully comic) situation of a statue being toppled because the person represented by the statue was not a vegan. Veganism is generally speaking a very modern lifestyle choice that would be unknown to historical figures.
It is also about the phenomenon of people sometimes committing disproportionately excessive acts if they hold their views with a high degree of righteous zeal.
It is also about mission creep – the current campaigns about statue toppling began with racism but may extend to other areas.

Drawn:11th June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a806
How to search for cartoons by subject

Edward Colston statue cartoon

Colston statue cartoon

A cartoon about the irony that Edward Colston’s money was used to benefit worthwhile institutions in Bristol (and London).

This cartoon is about the complex and messy nature of financial and social endeavour, and the complex and messy nature of people.
It is about the broader issue of how money is generated to finance society in general, especially its more worthy aspects.
This is not a cartoon defending the statue of Colston (as I’m generally against the concept of statues of prominent people anyway, although I wouldn’t get rid of the either).

Drawn:8th June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a804
How to search for cartoons by subject

Coronavirus rules on the number of people attending different events

coronavirus covid-19 lockdown rules for funerals and demonstrations cartoon

Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown rules cartoon regarding funerals and political demonstrations.

A cartoon pointing out the problem that thousands of people were allowed to gather for political protests over the weekend with only mild criticism over the fact that it broke the coronavirus lockdown rules (justifiably or not, depending on your viewpoint), while the rules state that, for instance, only ten people can gather for a funeral.
I’m sure that in the near future funeral-goers will ignore the lockdown rules and will attend in larger numbers on the grounds that their reason for attending is justifiable.

Drawn: June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a803
How to search for cartoons by subject

Coronavirus cartoon – lockdown breaking political demonstrations and Dominic Cummings

coronavirus covid-19 lockdown breaking demonstration Dominic Cummings cartoon

Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown breaking cartoon.

Last week Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s adviser, was in hot water because he chose to defy the lockdown rules relating to cover-19.
This week thousands of demonstrators chose to defy the lockdown too.
Does that take the pressure off Cummings, as the demonstrators are potentially much more likely to spread the coronavirus, yet they haven’t come in for the same criticism (justifiably or not, depending on your point of view).

Drawn: June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a802
How to search for cartoons by subject

Covid 19 coronavirus – the dilemma concerning social distancing and political demonstrations

coronavirus covid-19 black lives matter demonstration cartoon

Covid-19 coronavirus, social distancing and political demonstrations.

A cartoon about the tension between the need for social distancing and the right to attend political demonstrations – as highlighted by the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations linked to the death of George Floyd.
The dilemma is not linked to the cause advocated by the demonstrations, and would apply no matter what the cause.

Drawn: June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a801
How to search for cartoons by subject

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year 2020 father time tripping

Happy New Year 2020 cartoon.

The cartoon shows the old year 2019 (Father Time) pushing the baby New Year 2020 in a baby buggy. Father Time is tripping over the base of a Happy New Year sign, sending the new year rushing forwards out of control towards a cliff edge.

Cartoon reference number: a770

How to search for cartoons by subject

Notre-Dame Fire Restoration Fund/Sackler boycott cartoon

Notre Dame fire restoration fund cartoon

Notre-Dame fire restoration fund/Sackler boycott cartoon.
(Drawn on the night of the fire, before the actual donations controversy that followed.)

15 April 2019.
This is a cartoon that deliberately links two current news stories: the restoration of Notre-Dame cathedral following the devastating fire and the boycotting of funding from the Sackler family charitable trusts.
The cartoon was drawn on the evening of the fire, and predates the controversy about the donations from large businesses that developed in the following days.
The cartoon is primarily about the current controversy in some western societies concerning the assumed ethical standards of the donors who contribute funds to institutions such as art galleries and religious buildings.

The Sackler family are major benefactors to many institutions. Only a week ago I was in Westminster Abbey in London where I noticed their name on a recently restored stained glass window to which I assume they had contributed funding.
However, the Sackler family own Purdue Pharma, a company that produces the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is said to be addictive. Thus there are calls to boycott any charitable funding offered by the Sackler family.
Of course the Sackler family are far from being the only donors to charitable causes who may be involved in supposedly tainted money. It could possibly be argued that any organisation that had enough money to distribute in such lavish ways must have come about it by somewhat dubious means, depending on one’s standards.
Cartoon reference number: a769

How to search for cartoons by subject

The “post truth” society

Cartoon about ignoring the truth in favour of prejudice

Post truth cartoon.
Truth and facts being ignored in favour of emotional or prejudiced viewpoints.

The concept of ignoring the facts when reaching a decision about something, and letting the heart rather than the head rule, seems to be a phenomenon that’s on the rise. It has recently been labelled ‘post truth’.
In the cartoon I’ve linked it to the phenomenon of conspiracy theories, which are frequently used as a way of justifying irrational or unproven ideas.
The rise of post truth tendencies is said to be linked to people’s increasing use of social media via phones and electronic media and the tendency for internet algorithms to send people only information that they already agree with – however the tendency has always been there in the way that people purchase newspapers that agree with their political and other views.
It may also be linked to the current mistrust of experts.

Cartoon reference number: a756

How to search for cartoons by subject

Donald Trump elected president of the United States – the future looks grim.

do you remember where you were when trump was first elected?

“Do you remember where you were when trump was first elected?”

A cartoon showing two people in a devastated landscape, with a tattered stars and stripes flag.
One of the people is asking the other if he remembers the time when Donald Trump was first elected as president of the United States (implying that the degraded landscape in which they are sitting is a result of the Trump presidency).

Cartoon reference number: a753

How to search for cartoons by subject

How did you vote in the Brexit referendum, Daddy?

Brexit cartoon - How did you vote daddy?

A cartoon showing a man who is regretting voting for Britain to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

The image is partly a comment on the extreme criticism of ‘leave’ voters by those who voted to stay in the EU.

Based on the WW1 recruitment poster “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?”
Ref a746
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Brexit referendum cartoon – Britain votes to leave the EU

Brexit cartoon Union flag in person's face

Brexit cartoon – the winds of change.

The cartoon shows a British person with a British flag (union jack) blown into his face so that he can’t see where he’s going.

The image may show a person who can’t see the future ahead now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, with the flag representing Britain.
Alternatively, it may show a person who was blinded by patriotism before the referendum and thus voted to leave the EU on those grounds. This doesn’t imply that everyone who voted to leave the EU in the referendum are blinkered nationalists, just that blinkered nationalists probably voted for Brexit and thus managed to get many other Leave voters tarred with the same brush.
Cartoon reference number: a742b
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Cartoon – climate change refugees

Cartoon - climate change refugees

Cartoon – climate change refugees.

The cartoon shows the possible increase in mass migration that may be caused by global warming and climate change.
The cartoon compares the current (2015) crisis of mass migration to Europe caused by political instability in the middle east with the possible crisis of mass migration that may occur due to climate change.

A cartoon about mass migration, climate change refugees, impact of global warming.

Drawn: 2015

Ref a712
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Global warming cartoon

Global warming cartoon - the end is nigh crank

A global warming cartoon, showing a man with an “End is Nigh” placard.

A passing woman is saying “There was a time when I’d have dismissed him as a crank”.

A cartoon about the current feeling of pessimism about the state of the world and about its future.
This refers to climate change and global warming, but could equally refer to the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA!

Original version: 2010

Ref a709
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

“No Platforming” – the banning of speakers in debates

Cartoon - no platforming debates

“No platforming” – the movement to deny a debating voice to speakers who’s views may be offensive to some of the audience.

This cartoon is about the phenomenon of denying a platform in debates for speakers who’s views may be found offensive by some of the audience.
The phenomenon is particularly prevalent in universities.

“No platforming” can be seen as a form of censorship masquerading as a virtue. It is built on the premise that people have the right not to be offended.
This may be a worthy aim, but it’s very much open to abuse, as the ‘right not to be offended’ can easily become a means of stifling debate.
Apart from anything else, the airing of controversial views are crucial to the health of democracy.
Ref a705
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

A chess board as a metaphor for conflict resolution – cartoon

Chess as a metaphor for conflict resolution

A chessboard on which the chess pieces are not only black and white but are also shades of grey.

The idea of the cartoon is that conflict occurs when things are seen in black and white or when people are polarised in outlook. With shades of gray or nuances of opinion conflict is less likely – specifically as on the chessboard in the illustration.

The cartoon is a comment on the fact that people tend to analyse things in black and white, as “either/or” or in binary.

Ref a701
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Egypt crisis cartoon

Egypt crisis - inverted pyramid

A political cartoon about the ongoing crisis in Egypt which was originally heralded by the arab spring

In this image the crisis in Egypt is symbolised by an Egyptian pyramid turned upside down (to symbolise the turning upside down of the political order)

This image was drawn at the time of the initial uprising in Tahrir Square, Cairo, which saw the overthrow of President Mubarak.
The inverted pyramid has been used as a metaphor for instability in Egypt in cartoons several times during the current crisis. The concept was conceived independently for this cartoon with no reference to other cartoons. I wouldn’t want to claim that it was the first use of the inverted pyramid though

Ref egy271

Scottish independence referendum – opening Pandora’s box?

Scottish independence vote cartoon

Scottish referendum cartoon – has the independence campaign opened a Pandora’s box of problems?

The cartoon shows a ballot box with “Scottish referendum” written on one side and “Pandora’s box” on another.

The idea is that the independence campaign and the vote may have created divisions within Scotland and between Scotland and England.
The aftermath of the campaign may also generate problems within England as the political parties struggle to reconcile the wishes of the Scots with the wishes of the English.
There may also be resentment within England of the perceived privileges that were offered to Scotland in the closing days of the independence campaign.
On top of this, the regions of England that feel marginalised by Westminster and the south east may start agitating for more autonomy.
The whole thing is a veritable Pandora’s box.
If I’d had a vote I’d probably have voted ‘Yes’ to independence, if only to avoid all of the disruptions and uncertainties that will follow the ‘No’ victory.
Finally, I don’t think that the ‘No’ victory will settle the Scottish independence issue. Before long the independence movement may start agitating again. Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, has already accused the UK government of lying in order to secure a victory for the pro-union campaign. A divided Scotland may find that while it’s in a state of agitation it will have difficulty attracting investment and jobs, which will only make things worse.


Scottish independence referendum logo

Scottish independence referendum logo

An illustration or logo about the Scottish independence referendum

The people of Scotland will vote in the Scottish independence referendum on 18th September 2014

This illustration can be used to accompany articles about the Scottish independence debate
Ref: a644

Alex Salmond caricature

Alex Salmond caricature

Alex Salmond caricature

Alex Salmond is the leader of the SNP, the Scottish Nationalist Party.
A referendum about independence of Scotland is taking place in September 2014.


Big Brother thought police cartoon

big brother thought police - cartoon

Big Brother thought police cartoon

The Thought Police from George Orwell’s 1984 using cctv surveillance cameras

A cartoon about repressive societies, state control, police states, repression, dictatorship
Cartoon reference number: a501

Egypt crisis cartoon – burning pyramid

Egypt - pyramid burning

The crisis in Egypt depicted as a pyramid on fire

An image showing one of the pyramids of Egypt in flames, as a symbol of the unrest and turmoil caused by the current conflict between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood (in August 2013). The cartoon was drawn in June 2012 in anticipation of future conflict.

A burning pyramid as a metaphor for civil and religious unrest in Egypt.
Ref a624

High Speed Rail cartoon – HS2

HS2 inquiry cartoon

HS2 cartoon

A comment on the proposed high speed rail service, HS2.
Inquiry into HS2 show different financial implications and differing conclusions about financial viability

The cartoon shows a government minister responsible for rail transport and trains looking at an inquiry report and thinking “My reputation’s on the line”
Cartoon reference number: a628

Royal Mail privatisation cartoon – removing a red pillar box

Royal Mail privatisation cartoon

The sell-off of Royal Mail – cartoon

A comment on the proposed sell-off or privatisation of the UK’s postal delivery service, the Royal Mail.

The cartoon shows person wanting to post a letter to complain about the decline in the postal service. However, the letter box (a traditional red pillar box) is being removed, thus making it difficult for him to send his complaint
Ref a627

Suffragette cartoon


Suffragette cartoon – votes for women

This image is about the common criticism that the suffragette movement was primarily concerned with campaigning for votes for middle class and upper class women, and weren’t interested in votes for working class women (At the time of the suffragettes working class men didn’t have the vote)

A cartoon about suffrage, suffragists, democracy

Ref a617
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Funny photo of Nigel Farage – or Nigel Farage caricature

Nigel Farage funny photo caricature

A humorous photo of Nigel Farage – click to enlarge

Nigel Farage caricature
Humorous photo of Nigel Farage

Following the success of UKIP in the local elections in the UK, the Guardian newspaper ran this front page, featuring a photo of Nigel Farage and some of the UKIP candidates who had won seats in the local election.

The fold in the paper distorted the photo of Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, inadvertently created a bizarre Nigel Farage caricature from a straight photograph.
The distortion makes it look like a photo of Nigel Farage with a strange expression on his face

Ref a599
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Margaret Thatcher cartoon – statue as Ozymandias

margaret thatcher statue ozymandias

Margaret Thatcher cartoon
Statue of Margaret Thatcher as Ozymandias
“Look upon my works and despair”

An obituary cartoon following the death of Margaret Thatcher

The phrase “Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair” comes from Ozymandias by Shelley

Ref a595
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Margaret Thatcher funeral cartoon

Margaret Thatcher funeral cartoon

Margaret Thatcher cartoon
Margaret Thatcher’s funeral

Margaret Thatcher was a divisive figure when in power. This cartoon shows the public lining the streets to watch her funeral, with a protester from the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) waving an anti-Thatcher placard.
The SWP actually used the headline ‘Rejoice!’ on the front page of their paper, Socialist Worker, when reporting Thatcher’s death – this cartoon was created independently of that headline,
This cartoon isn’t so much about Thatcher as about the SWP and their liking for demonstrations.
The joke is that, ironically, the SWP quite liked Thatcher because she gave them a hate figure. I think they’ll miss her

“Rejoice!” was the expression Margaret Thatcher used when Britain defeated Argentina in the Falklands conflict.
Here’s a caricature I drew of Margaret Thatcher as the Iron Lady or Mad Axewoman (used very extensively by the SWP as it happens::
Margaret Thatcher – Iron Lady cartoon

Ref a594
How to search for cartoons by subject
cartoon copyright matters

Margaret Thatcher caricature as the Iron Lady

Thatcher iron lady cartoon

Margaret Thatcher cartoon or caricature as the iron lady or mad axewoman

This cartoon of Margaret Thatcher was drawn during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership as a response to her policies.
Margaret Thatcher was known by the iron lady (because of her resolve) and the mad axewoman (because of the cuts that she made to the welfare state).
The cartoon was used widely in political campaigns and left wing publications. It featured in the 1981 Big Red Diary, published by Pluto Press, and was used by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in their newspaper, Socialist Worker. See the links below for these images.
A copy of the poster featured in the 2012 film The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep. The poster even features in the official UK trailer for the film

See this cartoon on a Mad Axewoman protest placard
See this cartoon on an anti-Thatcher political lapel badge
Cartoon reference number: a121