LOOK at the recent low turnout for the local elections and you might think politics is one great big yawn for most people, so dull and uninteresting that it’s not worth prising ourselves away from Emmerdale and getting off the sofa to vote.
Who would think that the dreary day-to-day squabbles between Labour and SNP, the dwindling Scottish Tories’ fight for survival and the Lib Dems casting policies aside for the thrill of power could ever raise the slightest smile?
Greens with their wind power and recycling, the city council’s miserable trams debacle and the to and fro debate over the wording of the independence question. Inflated expenses claims, politicians courting publicity from national newspaper editors when they’re not brawling in Westminster bars. Not many laughs there. Surely . . .
Of course loyal followers of Edinburgh Evening News’ award-winning cartoonist, Frank Boyle, know otherwise. Boyling Point – Frank’s daily cartoon offering – has kept a satirical watch on the comings and goings of the city’s councillors, MSPs and MPs, down the years, spearing all with his wicked sense of humour.
Whether it’s a larger-than-life Alex Salmond – who once playfully chided Frank for drawing him a little too chunkily – the Jenny and Steve double act (now defunct) or Finance Secretary John Swinney’s elongated chrome dome, politics has fuelled many a chuckle courtesy of Boyling Point’s acidic wit.
Now the very best of Frank’s political cartoons have been gathered together for a new exhibition at The Scottish Storytelling Centre in the High Street, providing a unique reflection on the characters – some perhaps portrayed less flatteringly than others – and the events that have shaped the nation down recent years.
It follows an exhibition of Frank’s sporting cartoons, also featured in the Evening News.
It’s certainly timely. For the changing face of the city’s political scene courtesy of last week’s council election means he’s now confronted with a wealth of new characters.
“Jenny Dawe and Steve Cardownie were a good double act,” reflects Frank, 59, who once lampooned the council deputy leader as a Colonel “Cardaffi” and now ex-leader Dawe as his AK47 touting sidekick, pledging to fight to keep their grip of the City Chambers to the bitter end. “Then again,” he shrugs, “it’s good to have a change.”
It means Labour leader Andrew Burns can now brace himself for future appearances. “With the name Burns and the bald head, it’s hard not to draw him as Mr Burns from The Simpsons,” grins Frank. “Unfortunately Steve Cardownie isn’t exactly a ‘Smithers’, so I’m going to have to get thinking of what to do with him.
“It can take a while to get their character right. And some I quite miss – Annabel Goldie, Tavish Scott and Stewart Stevenson, the Transport Minister who resigned after telling everyone the Scottish Government was prepared for snow only to find they weren’t.”
His cartoons are funny but quite often come with a serious message attached. “Luckily I’ve always been interested in politics,” says Frank. “I could write a letter or comment on the internet about it, but this is my way of getting back at them.”