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The Gypsy's Warning

David Low (1891-1963)


Herbert Morrison, the subject of the cartoon, has signed this with his initials, inscribed it 'to Ethel M Donald from the Gypsey' and dated it 13/6/47 and 'Evening Standard, 6th June 1947'

Pen and ink with crayon and pencil on paper laid on board

13 ¼ x 15 ½ inches

Evening Standard, 6 June 1947

The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1900-2018', November 2018-January 2019, No 103

In this cartoon, Deputy Prime Minister Herbert Morrison reads the fortune of the Trades Union Congress, depicted as a large cart-horse. Sir David Low first portrayed the TUC in this way in 1946 and would use the imagery regularly to poke fun at the organisation. Herbert Morrison was at the head of Clement Attlee’s Labour government’s programme of nationalisation. During this time he worked closely with the trade unions. The 1927 Trades Disputes and Trade Unions Act, which restricted strike action, was repealed in 1946 and the Labour Party's trade union membership rose dramatically. When the National Coal Board was established in 1947, a leading member of the TUC, Walter Citrine, was appointed to the Board. Also during 1947, the government returned to the issue of nationalising the iron and steel industry, an issue Morrison was dubious about its merits and favoured a compromise of public supervision but not full-scale public ownership. Morrison’s fortune-telling in this cartoon suggests his eagerness at having proactive support from the TUC in order to gain approval for his scheme in Parliament. The ‘troubles from across the water’ refer to the convertibility of sterling against the dollar, which was on the verge of being introduced and would cause a drain on dollar reserves and a financial crisis.

The cartoon is signed and inscribed by Herbert Morrison himself, a gift to Ethel M Donald, his Private Secretary.

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