It was thirty years ago today..
This cartoon below was a particular favourite in the two-framer genre. It combined the themes of the imminent collapse of Sterling (see ERM cartoon further below) with the standard gripes about school exams being too easy. It also recklessly squandered enough puns to make a whole week’s worth of jokes. It ran on September 14th 1992.
Younger readers will maybe require a bit of background to fully appreciate the cartoon. These were the days before the Euro and Germany’s currency was still the Deutsche Mark. Norman Lamont was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Chris Patten was a former Education Secretary. John Maynard Keynes was a Twentieth Century economist, who Milton Keynes wasn't named after. And the cane was an instrument of correction that was once wielded in schools on unruly pupils (remarkably its use wasn’t fully banned in the UK until 1999).
September 16th 2022 marks the Thirtieth Anniversary of the UK’s exit from the Exchange Rate mechanism and inspired one of the most popular Alex cartoons ever.
In 1990 the UK had joined the ERM (the European Exchange Rate Mechanism) - a sort of entrance exam for the Euro. In 1992 a bunch of unpatriotic currency traders, including George Soros, started shorting Sterling, predicting that it would not be able to stay at a high enough level to remain in the ERM. On September 16th they were proved right. The UK Government had blown £3.3bn (peanuts by today’s bail-out standards) trying to prop up its currency, to no avail. The day was dubbed Black Wednesday - or Golden Wednesday by Eurosceptics.
A few days later Alex returned to the theme of German schadenfreude over Sterling's collapse against the Deutsche Mark.