The Joy of Satire, part three: David Low

As we finished the last post with David Low, let’s look at him in a little more depth. He was, undoubtedly in my humble opinion, the greatest political cartoonist of them all.

Low was a Kiwi, who first made his name in Australia. At length, he ended up agreeing to work for Lord Beaverbrook’s Evening Standard, the smaller of London’s evening papers, despite the fact that his political views were hardly in accord with his boss. Perhaps surprisingly, by and large, Beaverbrook gave him free rein. In particular, at the Standard, Low became a fierce critic of the dictators.

This was one of his greatest, and much used in textbooks, cartoons, on the Night of the Long Knives.

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This was his brilliant comment on the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

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Low was also a fierce critic of his own government, and those like them.

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In criticising his own government, even in annoying Beaverbrook, Low was by and large left alone. However, his virulent critique of the dictators had diplomatic ramifications, at a time when Britain was still trying to appease.
When Lord Halifax visited Germany in 1937, he was told that the Führer was deeply offended by Low’s cartoons of him. Low was told that his cartoons damaging the policy of appeasement. Low, for a while, toned down.

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But not for long.

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His criticism of Chamberlain aroused the ire of Asquith’s widow:


I thought your cartoon… both cruel and mischievous. I know the P.M. – do you? He is a man of iron courage, calm and resolution. Neville is doing the only right, wise, thing, unless you want war.

Low would, like appeasement’s opponents, win out, if in the worst of circumstances. This cartoon summed up the spirit of 1940.

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Back to 1925. Anyone who knows their cricket history will love this cartoon. Why did it get Low, not for the last time, in trouble?

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Current, or what?

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