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The Independent Culture
The Labour grandee finds it hard to recognise himself in a Gerald Scarfe caricature that has him dangling from strings

Well, of course, the point is, I didn't sit for this picture. Scarfe must have done it from photographs and then the National Portrait Gallery acquired it. I remember when it was first displayed, there was rather a good photograph of me underneath it, so you could see on the one hand how I really looked and on the other how I seemed to a caricaturist.

I don't actually think this caricature is very good. Scarfe could be very interesting, and quite an amusing caricaturist, and everything he did was intended to make a point. But on this occasion I just don't think he got it quite right. If it wasn't for the eyebrows, I really don't think you would have been able to tell that it was me. And anybody could do the eyebrows, of course. But the rest of the face just isn't like me. Then he's got me dangling on strings. I do rather object to that. You could accuse me of certain things in my political career but if you asked any of the people around at the time I think they'd agree that I was never anybody's puppet.

Scarfe was very certainly very distinctive - you could tell him straightaway from a David Low, for example - but that also made him rather predictable. I remember meeting him once. He seemed a rather vain fellow. He had his shirt unbuttoned down to his navel, that sort of thing.

I don't really mind the picture, but I wouldn't say I exactly make a point of going to look at it when I'm in the NPG.

Gerald Scarfe's 1976 portrait of Lord Healey hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2 (0171 306 0055)