From my article The Right to Create: A Casualty of Dissent, Comics Journal, 2001
Broomie Law is a single-panel cartoon commissioned by Jackie McGlone for the features page in 1996. It was inspired by Italian-Scot Oscar Marzaroli’s 1950s-’60s photographs of the Gorbals (a working class area of Glasgow) children, with their wee hard faces and props of adult power — high heels, dolls and handbags.
In a review of the cartoon in the British magazine Red Pepper, Amanda Sebestyen wrote: “Like all favourite cartoonists — Giles, Osbert Lancaster, Steve Bell — McLeod gives you an addictive family of characters to comment on issues of the day. Heroine Broomie Law is a street child who keeps asking questions; Baby Doll believes everything the spinmasters tell her; red Granny Hill acts grumpy historian and a cynical materialist Handbag gets the best wisecracks. The kick comes form seeing the cast pass conversational judgments on New Labour from far, far to the left. No blood but plenty of bite. And a twist of lemon from the fact that all the characters are female.”
Broomie Law is the name of the heart of Glasgow’s once-busy docks. But I chose the name because it described the cartoon’s political perspective — the law of the home, the land, the broom (most of the characters’ names are based on areas of Glasgow: Broomielaw, Maryhill, Anniesland and Haggs Castle). I saw the strip as part of the changing face of political cartoons for three reasons. First reason, since editorial cartoons were still not seen as an acceptable job for a woman, I had to create my own ground. Second, I felt that many political cartoons had lost the plot, working in stereotypes that reinforce prejudices, against sex, race and class. And third, the standard political cartoon focuses on the parody of the politician, from the position of the worm at the bottom, not the effects of that politician’s actions on the people.
Broomie Law received high praise from the likes of comedian Philip Jupitus, Guardian journalists Jeremy Hardy and George Monbiot, historian and curator Elspeth King, Observer editorial cartoonist Chris Riddell, BBC Radio Women’s Hour Jenny Moore and ex-leader to the Scottish National Party, MSP and MP, Alex Salmond. Labour MP and people’s hero Tony Benn said “it helps us to see the truth behind the facade” and journalist/film maker John Pilger said “your work is so sharp and unusual (in these politically surreal times) and above all, powerful.”
Another equally valued fan from Partick, Glasgow, Angie McKenna, e-mailed me with this message: “… My wee mammie and I … always have a wee laugh at your cartoon in the Herald. Very clever and very well-done. At last another cartoon with good political content, especially set here in our proud city of Glasgow, highlighting poverty, family issues, etc. etc. Thanks for giving us such a wonderful gift.