Drawing: David Lange

David LangeNew Zealand’s 32nd Prime Minister David Lange was one of the best-loved. Becoming his country’s youngest leader of the 20th Century at the age of 41.  Heading the fourth Labour Government in 1984, which proved to be one of the most reforming administrations in New Zealand’s history with some of the most radical economic changes anywhere in the industrialised world. But it was his nuclear-free legislation that remains his legacy He was a PM from  a small Pacific nation, who could stride on the International stage and take on the ‘big boys’…a real David and Goliath story. This was highlighted in the 1985 televised Oxford Union Debate when he opposed the  American TV evangelist, Jerry Falwell, arguing the proposition that ‘nuclear weapons are morally indefensible.’  In his winning speech filled with gems, one quote has lodged  in my mind, when he told the Rev.Falwell, “I can smell the uranium on your breath as you lean towards me.” A cutting wit and eloquence,his oratory was based on a need to compensate for his clumsiness at school.When he graduated from Law school David turned down lucritive career paths to repesent the most dispossessed members of his community.

I drew this toon of David near the end of his leadership when his party was falling apart and his position was under threat, which eventually lead to his resignation in August 1989.  He stayed on in Parliament until 1996 when ill-health forced him to retire.  David passed away in 2005, aged 63. Politicians and political cartoonists are not always  bossom buddies, so I was pleased he signed this and inscribed ‘One of the best’ on it.

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