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Cartoon: UK Tax Premiership Pro!

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons

Caricature: Stephen Green of HSBC

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons

Stephen Green, Baron of Hurstpierpoint and former Group Executive Chairman of  theHSBC Banking Group is being widely questioned about his remarkable lack of  managerial or executive oversight of its Swiss private banking arm before, during and after the financial crash of 2007/08.

This follows global public disclosure of information about opaque tax policies for high net worth individuals and the bank’s repeated business connections with money launders, terrorists and drug runners. Much of this results from a leak or whistleblower from within HSBC. You can watch an interview with the man concerned conducted by Faisal islam of Sky News here.

Thus far Stephen Green (aka the ‘ethical banker’) has avoided answering any questions at all.

Naturally after retiring from the financial industry in 2010, the present UK Prime Minister appointed him a Trade Minister. He served three years.

It seems likely that is all he will serve, despite his avowed faith because hilariously, Green is also a ordained priest in the Church of England. He is also author of a notable book called ‘Serving God, Serving Mammon’.

The cartoon owes something to the old game of Cluedo.

Updated: 15th February 2015.

Jon Snow on Stephen Green- 15th February 2015

Cartoon: Genetic engineering in the UK

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The UK parliament has voted on and approved so-called third parent genetic donation to help prevent inherited disease caused by genetic malfunction outside the cell nucleus of the human body. This long sought approval has been extremely controversial.

Following the Scottish Independence referendum, the conservative part of the government has also proposed its promised plan for ‘English votes for English laws’. It looks a botch and seems guaranteed to please almost no one.

This pithy piece of analysis puts it into context.

The coming coalition government will be debatably-modified as well.

Cartoon: The Sorcerer’s apprentice

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons

Mario Draghi, Governor of the European Central Bank is this week expected to announce massive program of government bond buying using something that looks almost exactly like ‘Quantitative easing’. This is a practice of increasing  ‘liquidity’ in the financial markets already followed the US Federal Reserve, the UK Bank of England and the Bank of Japan since the global financial crash of 2007/08.

In so far as anyone can tell, its major effect so far has been to devalue currencies, boost asset prices for the truly wealthy and delay a reckoning that the bankrupt private financial institutions are, arguably, overdue.

Cartoon: Everything is awesome

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© Matt Buck Hack cartoons

Here comes the election of 2015. – and here’s the splendid song from the Lego movie to help you keep your morale up during what is likely to be a trying period.

Cartoon: This is not the prophet

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The Charlie Hebdo magazine has announced the cover for its first published issue since the murders at its offices in Paris.

Cartoon: Paris twinned with London

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons

Some words written after the multiple murders at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Cartoon: Being a cartoonist

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Before and after Charlie Hebdo

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Words constructed after news of the murders at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, 7th January 2015.

It is a cartoonist’s blessing and curse to be at the point of pen and pain when matters of free speech and offence come to town.

The murders at the the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are as grotesque an act of zealotry as that any group can carry out.

But there is no reason for society in general, or cartoonists in particular, to beat themselves up unnecessarily about the acts of these criminals.

There was no obvious change in the long-term behaviour of cartoonists in Europe after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published its Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2006. Despite the horror of what has happened in Paris today, I do not think this will or should change.

This is because, despite its healthy subversive streak, the drawing of opinion cartoons has always operated under the laws of the land – and specifically under the hand of the editors who guard the publications for which we work.

All cartoonists who publish in print work under the system of checks and balances that is the editor. Control in our niche of journalism is just the same as written or broadcast journalism. Any cartoonist can tell that you that the experience of negotiation with an editor can be as blunt as a “No” or as joyful as “Publish and be damned”.

Charlie Hebdo knew all this when they republished the Muhammad cartoons. And in law, in France, they were able to publish just as they did.

In doing so, they deliberately challenged a convention in European and US publishing after the Danish controversy that the less that was said, the sooner all would be mended. They also knew that their act or republication would be global in a way that it wasn’t when Jyllands-Posten published the original work of the 12 freelance cartoonists more than eight years ago.

When provocations like this are easily read and shared – liked and retweeted across the globe – you have a vehicle for stoking a controversy of unparalleled power.

I am as as fond of the Voltaire quote about defending the right to offend as the next cartoonist, and there was and is a strong case to be made for the publication of the Danish cartoons as a statement or expression of free speech. But it did also potentially antagonise many millions of Muslims and it certainly highlighted Charlie Hebdo as a soft target. The publishers have been horribly caught out by their own boldness, at a great and bloody cost.

Distribution of information across the globe has killed comfortable assumptions and the cosy clichés of shared experience that allow the consequence-free poking of fun at subjects about which people can care deeply.

Every image matters when you have a global audience. The internet, that great invention of humanity, is very easily put to a purpose that does not aid humans.

Unmediated distribution of images in social media has been accompanied by the spread of tools to manipulate and edit other people’s photographs and cartoons. This has opened up a Pandora’s box of opportunity for misunderstanding, theft, outrage and offence – again, on a global scale.

At this awful moment I would like to send my deepest condolences and best wishes to all colleagues in France.

In spite of all today’s horror, I know we shall shortly be raising a merrier hell with them all, making well-timed drawings about the lives we all lead in one shared and ever more connected world.

En avant!

Updated 12th Jan 2015: A version of this piece appears on the procartoonists.org blog belonging to the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation.

Cartoon review of 2014 – Hack Cartoons

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A selection of political cartoons about the year of 2014 in the UK.

This site and all content upon it is © Matthew Buck at Hack Cartoons and Multimedia unless otherwise stated.