From Walpole's Bottom to Major's Underpants

Kenneth Baker argues that cartoonists have let recent Prime Ministers off lightly compared with their eighteenth-century predecessors.

Political cartoons and the office of Prime Minister both became established in the 1720s. They grew alongside each other and established a strange relationship which was to show itself in mutual interdependence. Michael Cummings, the contemporary cartoonist, has said that a Prime Minister to a cartoonist is as bricks to a builder – 'Without Prime Ministers we'd all be redundant'. It was so from the very start. Similarly, politicians need cartoonists, for to be caricatured is a sign that they have arrived.

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