POLITICS

Labour Member Explains Why He Took A Portrait Of Jeremy Corbyn Adorned With Fairy Lights To Conference

'I thought politics needed a bit of levity'.

26/09/2017 15:21 BST

Labour Party Conference has seen its fair share of interesting sights this year - but a huge portrait of Jeremy Corbyn, adorned with fairy lights and a tinsel halo, is probably near the top of the list. 

First spotted on conference floor during Monday’s speeches, HuffPost UK caught up with Paul Dawson, the proud owner of the work of art, to ask why he brought it along.

The 62-year-old, who joined Labour after Corbyn was elected leader in 2015, told us he wanted to “shake things up” and poke fun at those who say the party leader’s following is nothing but a “cult of personality”.

“I thought politics could do with a bit of levity to it without disrespecting anyone,” he said.

“Where I come from is a very arty district in the centre of Bristol.  I am a bit of an artist, and shortly after I joined the party I was walking through a flea market and I saw this oil painting portrait for sale and I bought it.  

HuffPost UK
Labour member Paul Dawson shows off his Jeremy Corbyn artwork with Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner.

“I went to college and did a bit of oil painting, so I took it home, repainted the green background red and improved some of the shading on the face.

“I read that one of Corbyn’s interests is reading the history of the street by looking at manhole covers.  You can see the date and the people who made it and you can reconstruct the history of the street even if it has been totally modernised. 

“So I put a museum tag at the bottom, and the tinsel halo and flashing lights completes the joke.

“Then I started going a bit bonkers, bought it a gold frame and started taking it to branch meetings, because they said they wanted to do politics differently.”

Paul, a self-employed builder and member of pro-Corbyn group Momentum, is part of the Bristol West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) delegation - the biggest party group at conference, with 19 members attending. 

Asked if he had had any trouble getting his artwork through the Brighton Centre’s rigorous security system, he said: “It’s been fine actually. They take one look at me, and one look at that, and think terrorists aren’t that funny.

“Someone got it out during the speeches on Monday and then it all went a bit mad.  Apparently there are loads of people moaning about it on Twitter.

“It is meant to be totally tongue-in-cheek. There was a lot of criticism that people just love Corbyn’s personality, which I found quite funny because to me he’s not a charismatic person really.

“Everyone takes him seriously for what he stands for in his policies, not because he’s won us over with his personality.  We are intelligent people.  I am just having a bit of a laugh.

“But what is really important to us is that poor people are suffering, and changing that is what we are really focused on.”