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Gibbard, Les (1945 - 2010)

Les Gibbard original cartoon artwork.

Les Gibbard was born in New Zealand. In 1967, he moved to London and worked as a freelance cartoonist, before being appointed pocket cartoonist for the Sunday Telegraph later that year. In 1969, Gibbard succeeded Bill Papas as political cartoonist on The Guardian. When Thatcher came to power in May 1979, Gibbard was prevented from attacking her, on the grounds that it was "too tough and ungentlemanly to attack a lady at the start of her honeymoon." However, by the time of the Falklands War The Guardian had no qualms about attacking Thatcher. As Gibbard recalled, "looking for some way to express my anger at the pointless waste of human life on both sides I turned to the famous cartoon by Zec." Gibbard recaptioned it "The price of sovereignty has increased - official", and the Guardian carried it on 6 May 1982. As Gibbard noted afterwards, "I was unaware of the furore caused by it until I returned home later the following day to barrage of phone calls asking me how I proposed responding to being called a traitor." It turned out that Thatcher had attacked those in the British media who were slow to back the campaign, and the Sun had followed her lead by accusing Les Gibbard of treason. "What is it but treason", the paper demanded, "for The Guardian to print a cartoon, showing a British seaman clinging to a raft...isn't that exactly calculated to weaken Britain's resolve at a time when lives have been lost, whatever the justice of her cause?" The matter was raised in the House of Commons.