Monday 13 January 2014


In these hard, hard times when everyone is making sacrifices...when sick people are being made to work, when the English part of the UKOK government is contemplating rationing health care based on some arbitrary measure of useful you are as a person and when, regardless of how much work you have done at the age of 24 (it could be 8 years), you won't be entitled to benefits, it's nice to know that there is still loads of money to throw around on vanity projects for our betters.

There is a committee of the House of Commons which secretly meets and decides which among their colleagues should be honoured with a portrait or a statue.

And they spend hundreds of thousands of pound glorifying themselves for posterity, like they were important which of course they sincerely believe themselves to be.

Of course I could accept that, incompetent, inefficient and self serving though they may have been, ex prime ministers have always had a portrait down to hang in Downing Street, and Speakers have traditionally been painted for posterity; they form part of the history of the country. But the names of some of the subjects that have been painted leave you gasping for breath at the audacity of this committee wasting money while people go cold.

The subjects themselves are nominated by this committee, and only have to agree to be painted. They do not put themselves forward.
None the less I can't help but wonder at their vanity that they accept that your money be wasted on them.

It is a cross party affair too. The only person who comes out of this Daily Mail article with any credit, is Harriet harman, who originally agreed to be painted, but withdrew when she found out how much it would cost the taxpayer.

I thought you might like to see some of the daubs that you paid for, because stuck up here in "North Britain", and it being a day's journey to the grand imperial capital, you are unlikely to actually see the real things for yourself.

One of the things that amazed me was the difference in prices... This little beauty cost nearly £12,000

And one of the reptilian Iain Duncan Smith cost £10,000, possibly because it had to be done at night!

Bercow, the current Speaker, sometimes called Squeaker, for no reason that immediately springs to mind, except maybe his rodent like actions, apparently was afforded the amazing sum of £37,000 for this.

Ming the merciless was painted at £10,000 (why?), Ken Clarke at £8,000, Wee Willie Hague only cost £4,000, possibly because they didn't have to do hair.
Betty Boothroyd, who, as Speaker i would have accepted been immortalised once, was done three times, presumably incase they lost two of them. That cost us £18,000.

Some were much cheaper. Left wingers Dennis Skinner and Tony Benn came in at a much more reasonable £2,000, although I can't see why they were done at all.

For some reason beyond understanding Pete Wishart was only deemed to be worth a photograph, although why he was included, I simply don't know. 
Needless to say Bair was done (on one occasion, a portrait of him was criticised for showing an abnormally large head. I wonder why that occurred to the artist!)
And of course Thatcher was immortalised (ye gads) in a statue which cost £150,000 was decapitated, but another one was put in the House of Commons right opposite Churchill, whom she always called Winston, like they were mates or something! (It is likely that they met when she was a junior MP and he was PM, but highly unlikely that they were on first name terms. He would most likely have sent her to make a pot of tea, or get him a brandy!)

Munguin is hoping that he will be nect to have his portrait painted, or maybe, he was thinking, a statue in bronze. What do you think?

Some more portraits for your enjoyment...
Fat head?
What a shine on that ...
You made it Chic
The bird is prettier...
Another one Betty?
Mug of tea and a pipe...


  1. I don't know who the artist was or artists were but they were done is all I can say. What an utter waste of time not to mention waste of taxpayers money.

    The only pictures you have shown Tris that are, in my opinion, worth anything at all are the two of Betty Boothroyd. Like you though I'm bewildered as to why she had three portraits done.

    If I was to be pushed I might go as far as to say the portrait of Tony Benn might just be acceptable but as for the rest they are just a collection of very expensive firewood!

    Excuse my ignorance here Tris but just who the hell is that third portrait supposed to be, it is just gob smackingly awful in my opinion!

    I see the portrait of Major has Mrs Major sitting in the background, I assume it is Mrs Major,, no doubt making sure a certain Mrs Currie did not get her paw print in on the act!

    1. Third one was Diane Abbott. Not very flattering. You'd have thought for all that money they might have got her likeness a bit closer.

      I think mrs Major had to be there incase that silly old bag shinned up the drainpipe and laid in about him. She was desperate you see.

      Either that or she was there to make sure he didn't tuck his shirt into his undergarments

    2. Diane Abbott?


      Well all I can say is they were done when that picture was painted! At the very least you'd have thought the picture would have had a passing likeness to her, this, whatever it is, does not even come close!

      I think you may very well be right about Mrs. Major. LOL

    3. Whoever painted that Abbott picture should be prosecuted.

      Are you sure it's Mrs Major? It's a bit fuzzy. Could it be Edwina after all?

      The second Blair one - anybody remember Alfred E. Neuman?

    4. It is Abbott.

      It's a very bad painting. I was just saying over at Pa's place. Diane Abbott is actually a very pretty woman. This doesn't do her justice. I was also wondering why MPs get portraits which make them look as if they are naked. Ok for film stars. MPs are supposed to have a bit more gravitas (I did say supposed).

      I wonder if the next thing we are going to get is the Eton spiv in his underpants...

      Maybe it's not Mrs major. Maybe it was his nurse....?

  2. None of them worthy of anything but contempt.


  3. A waste of good paint and canvass.

    I wonder if Braveheart was proud of his work here.

    Over 110 students from across Ayrshire were asked to vote at the start of the event. Fifty per cent voted to remain part of the UK, 33% thought the best opportunities lay in an independent Scotland and 17% were undecided. At the end of the debate they were asked to vote again and the results showed 46% voting yes, 43% voting no and 11% undecided.

    Panel members were:

    Councilor Alex Gallacher (Labour - North Coast and Cumbraes)

    Councilor Tom Marshall (Conservative - North Coast and Cumbraes)

    Councilor Mathew Brown (SNP - Irvine West)

    Councilor Marie Burns (SNP - Irvine East)

    1. You can be a good debater, and I don't know whether he is or not. But if the content of your debate runs like this:

      Well sometimes you'll get Tories, for up to maybe 18 years at a time, but sometimes you'll get what you vote for, Labour, although, I have to admit you can forget all this namby pamby stuff about poor and needy. As Tom Harris said, we're not about that kind of crap.

      So you will get less money, but you’ll be fine because have the English suffered from having a privatised health and education system and no welfare… no wait, don’t answer that. I know there are some people who have dies, and some who have lost their homes or had to move to Blackpool or whatever, and there are quite a lot who have committed suicide…

      Yes you will get all these jobs. Tens of millions that comes from having the WMDs only 25 miles up the road…well tens of thousands…well a thousand…well a few anyway.

      Eu…who needs it? English people don’t like being told what to by a bunch of foreigners.

      Anyway, stop asking me what it will be like in Britain. It will be wonderful. One day Lady Lamont and lord Alexander and I may come down your street to take tea with you…

      But you realise that if you let Alex Salmond in he’ll eat your children and poison the water, and as Mr Smart says within days you’ll all have turned in to rabid foreigner hating people and beat up the Pakistanis and the Poles and you’ll be made to use the Euro and be thrown out of the EU and be made to use the Zimbabwean dollar and Alex Salmond will take your wives and you pets and tax you at 99% to give SNP supporters free whisky.

      God save David Cameron.

    2. I think what this debate proves, as all other comparable debates have done, is that if you give the people the facts then they do indeed vote YES!

      Just as a wee aside.

      I was at the hospital today for a regular check up and the Doctor noticed my YES wristband. She says "no need to ask which way you're voting then!"

      Apparently her husband will be voting YES and she has been giving this some thought. After a wee discussion about the independence of Scottish N.H.S. and what is happening to the N.H.S. South of the border I think we now have another YES voter on board! :-)

    3. Bravo. Every time you do that they lose a vote and we gain a vote.

      In this way we shall win.

      As people know more about it they come over to YES.

      Among my friends the brighter ones who have bothered to look into it are saying yes. I have some neighbours who are still going to vote no, but they are old old Labour people who still think that Mrs Lamont is going to deliver them from Tory rule...

    4. In fact my partner was helping one of our neighbours out with her new T.V. and Scotland's independence came up. Our neighbours mum asked the questions to which my partner was able to answer without batting an eyelid. In fact as the mum had said her neighbours kept popping into her house and obviously asking questions she couldn't answer we have offered our "services" suitably armed with our copy of the White Paper in hand. :-)

      In fact one of our other neighbours is a die hard Labour voter but even he is sick up to the back teeth of Labour and will probably be voting YES in September.

      What I think is most obvious is when I talk to regular Labour voters, they are all sick to the back teeth of Lamont et al so I fully expect a significant number of local Labour voters down here to vote YES in September. I think the media, BBC, SKY etc put far too much into all these poll results about Independence. What they all forget is that none of these polling organisations are able to correctly predict this referendum, they have never covered one before. All these pollsters can do is use their calculations from past General Elections and even these figures are skewed because they are all set up for a Westminster G.E. and as we all know Scots vote differently between WM and Holyrood.

    5. Yes, the polling is probably all wrong.

      Firstly most people who commission these polls don't (as Stuart did), contact a professor of politics to get him to look over them for fairness and balance.

      They are looking for a certain result to buoy their supporters and they aim their questions in that way.

      They then have to weigh the results according to people who historically voted in a particular way. Well, the only history on this is the referendum in the 70s and the one in the 90s. Even the most recent one has an entirely different electorate from today, with entirely different experiences.

      The battle may mainly be won by people like Nicola and Alex debating on tv and in parliament, but people like us can hep by persuading one person here and one there.

      I tell you something though. If I were BT I'd stop Gordon Brown going out and promising that we'll have more powers and we will be able to create a fairer more decent Scotland with them.

      The man was chancellor and prime minister for over 13 years. If we were going to get a more equitable Scotland, surely the time for it would have been when HE had all the powers to deliver that.

      Not when the Tories rule the roost and have one seat in the country.

      He's making himself a laughing stock. Surely only the most gullible will believe that crap.

    6. I've got to admit Broon the Loon isn't the only one making absolutely ridiculous statements, Alistair "cry baby" Carmichael is following suit.

      Did anyone acutally READ broon's statement before allowing him to blurt it out the other day? I mean "stick with the union and get control of the Health service! As I recall OUR National Health service was up and running BEFORE Nye Bevin created his National Health Service.

      Then we had cry baby pop up yesterday with his "intellectual" input. Stick with the union to remain part of the British and IRISH Lions. As far as I can remember EIRE is an independent country and has been so since the 1920's so I'm curious, when exactly did Eire become part of the UK again?

      Nice of cry baby to also remind us of another great reason for sticking with the broken union, DEVOLUTION! So, according to Carmichael, one of his top 20 reasons for sticking with Westminster control is so that we can get MORE powers from Westminster! For gawds sake the man is a complete Muppet!

  4. The one I was most surprised and disappointed with was Dennis Skinner I cannot buy into his self justification that he was helping someone get some work

    1. I'd agree with that.

      If there's £2000 knocking about, pay someone for a month or two to tidy your garden or paint your lobby, not some already highly paid artist.

  5. The vanity of those mediocre Westminster politicians (mediocre being favourable) knows no bounds. £250.000 quid spent painting those clueless buffoons just to boost their flagging egos, is at best disturbing.

    Using the gambit of the need to paint those punchinellos for posterity reasons, just doesn't wash with the increasingly disgruntled public.
    Westminster politicians have indeed lost touch with reality, and to see some of those drastic looking portraits, you could say that IDS and Co's Picassoesque faces would give you the boak if you gave them a second glance.

    1. If we need to be reminded of them... BIG IF... Munguin could pop round with his cell phone and take a snap of two for posterity.

      I'm willing to bet that he wouldn't charge nearly as much.

  6. Tris.....Very interesting post! While you know about the mediocrity of your politicians, I can sure spot mediocre portraits when I see them. There are some really awful pictures there. So while I can appreciate your preference that very little public money be spent on such things, I fear that you only get what you pay for. And i'd say that a few thousand pounds doesn't seem to buy you much of a picture these days. So what are you to do? As usual, we Americans have shown you the way, if you'll just pay attention. ;-))

    The solution is that you make the politicians pay for their own pictures. American Presidents by modern custom pay for their own (and their wives) portraits, which they then present as gifts to the White House collection when they leave office. (Rich friends probably help pay the bill.) BTW, Presidents also are expected to spring for a whoppingly expensive set of china for the White House, suitable for state dinners and such.

    When you visit the White House, it's interesting to see the presidential portrait collection hanging on the walls. The styles reflect more than two centuries of artistic tastes, but modern pictures lean toward presidents sitting or standing among flags, or with some iconic image like the US Capitol in the background. The pictures of FDR and Harry Truman (who followed FDR) are typical of the traditional style.

    On the White House tour, you may hear the story of the striking John F. Kennedy portrait. Kennedy was told by the White House Curator that his portrait should be traditional in style to fit in with the others. But the portrait that Jacqueline Kennedy ultimately presented was dramatically NON-traditional in style, and is by far the most impressive of the modern pictures.

    1. Ah, where would we be without a pointer from Washington, Danny? :)

      I suppose these rich friends who contribute don't expect anything in return for their generosity... rather like all these people...Lords I suppose we should call them...who clearly don't expect anything for the money they throw at the British ones.

      I remember you showed me a while ago some of the dinner sets that previous presidents had left in the White House... and I remember thinking that some of the colourings would have left me feeling decidedly bilious by the time I'd eaten what was served...

      I was pretty unimpressed with the portraits, although I rather did like the Kennedy one. He looks a lot slimmer there than the photographs of him, so I'm guessing the artist was trying to flatter a bit.

      Munguin has a spare set of tableware in the cupboard in the Munguin Towers kitchen. He got it free after saving up coupons on some soap powder packets.

      if Mr obama is looking for a suitable set to leave in the White House, perhaps he should give Munguin a ring. I'm sure the furry one would let them go quite cheaply.

      One thought though... If every president leaves a set of dishware, suitable for banquets... where the hell do they keep them? I mean are they right now building an extension out the back?

  7. PS: I thought that Prime Ministers were more modest sorts who didn't go in for big painted portraits very much. I was thinking of these photographs and etchings along the stairway at No. 10 I guess.

    1. Yes. That was interesting. I don't think I should pay too much attention to the fact that Downing Street isn't as grand as the White House. After all, it's a mere prime ministerial residence. And in any case, they have a country estate with shooting for their personal use as well.

      On teh other hand the head of state has 5 palaces within the London area for her use...

      Buckingham, Kensington, St James Palaces, Windsor Castle and Clarence House, where Charlie and Mrs Parker Bowles live.

      If you want splendour... look no farther.

      I think if they had great big portraits done for Downing Street they would have to build another 20 storeys on the top of the thing... and heaven knows it costs us enough as it is.

  8. Tris....I'll pass along Mr. Munguin's kind offer of high quality tableware to the president. Since Mr. Obama is not as wealthy as some recent presidents (just sort of a "garden variety" millionaire, I'd say), then I'm sure he will appreciate the help. Seems to me that one of the recent sets of dishes (maybe Reagan or one of the Bushes) came in a bit north of $300,000. I've wondered about the storage problem myself. The old White House you see in the pictures is just used for state occasions, and it's relatively small even for that purpose. (Compared with Her Majesty's houses.) The White house offices where the president and his staff work are in the West Wing hidden by trees. And lesser staffers are in the old Executive Office Building across the street. So as for storing dishes, we're probably talking about rented space in a warehouse downtown.

    As for the really old historic plates, things get broken and discarded, and are no longer adequate for a full service. So representative historic pieces are in the "China Room" for the WH tours to see. On our tour, we were told that the earliest presidential set which can still be used (for a setting of eight) is the Lincoln china. It's strikingly colored and is so popular that it's still being produced.

    The older White House portraits (before the modern practice of the presidential gifts) have been assembled over time. The striking George Washington picture there is the one that was broken from its frame and saved by Dolley Madison in 1814, just before the British Army showed up and burned the place. We're still pissed about that BTW, but I'll let it go for now. I'm sure that you personally had nothing to do with it. :-))

    In the YouTube clip of the presentation of the George W. Bush portraits, the Washington painting saved from the British is directly behind the speakers. DubYa quipped that it was now Michelle Obama's duty to save another "George" picture if it happens again.

    1. That, I have to say Danny, is among the more tasteful of the plate I saw. It's a bit fussy for my taste, but I'm a bit of a "less is more" kind of guy, so something in plain white would be OK as far as I'm concerned.

      Love the video though. Bush is far better as a comedian than he ever was at being a president...

      Munguin says...tell Obama to get on with it, he's holding off the French president, who now apparently has two households to upkeep!!

      Oh to be that ugly and that popular.

      I was amused to see that Nicolas Sarkozy said that President Hollande looked ridiculous... well, there speaks the expert!

  9. When, as part of the post Yes vote negotiations, we are divvying up the assets, is it compulsory to take 10% of this shite?

    1. We would ask for the frames, I suppose?