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Politicians and that music thing.

IT’S TELLING THAT today if you wish to catch a politician out and subject them to a bit of mockery the easiest thing to do is get them to make a comment about everyday life – everyday life as the rest of us live it, that is. Pasties, the price of milk, tv programmes, bands – they’re all minefields for the clodhoppers in the Commons. Any comment by a politician (presumably guided by some overpaid PPE graduate in the role of adviser) about music, for example, is guaranteed to provoke ridicule. They’ll either come up with something that’s blatantly nonsensical or just weird. It’s like watching your dad dance at your sixteenth birthday party.

Still, for us proles it affords a little light entertainment. My superficial and possibly biased examination of this phenomenon (in the best tradition of contemporary British journalism, in other words) reveals that Labour politicians are most likely to attempt this tactic as a means of generating approval and the most likely to get away with fewest wounds.

Except Gordon Brown, who was lambasted for allegedly liking The Arctic Monkeys (a popular beat combo of his time, you may recall). In trying to correct the error later he made it worse by saying it was Coldplay he really liked. Oh dear. This gaffe was a result of an ill-advised attempt to make the surly and incompetent phone-thrower appear as a cuddly sort of chap tapping out a modern beat on his desk as he engineered the New Jerusalem for council estates up and down the country.

Brown, you will have forgotten, was then about to publish a collection of his speeches – Moving Britain Forward – a title of colossal inappropriateness since he was busy moving the country backwards into an economic mess reminiscent of the 1970s. It was an act that combined high arrogance with low desperation. At this point I am trying to come up with a band or song from the 1970s that would epitomise the cheerless and persistent wrongheadedness of Brown, but I can’t. I’m still thinking…no, can’t do it.

There was a time, back in Britain’s Old Days, when everything was monochrome, like tv and the Black and White Minstrels, and nobody knew or cared or thought it worth being told what music people like Macmillan and Douglas-Home enjoyed. Wilson, of course, gave the Beatles MBEs and thus set a precedent for sad politicians trying to hitch their popularity to musical celebrities. Can you remember what music he enjoyed? Was he a closet Stones fan? Or did he just think the whole lot was a passing fad, a load of noise, as so many people of his age did? We don’t know, but he certainly played the canny cultural Marxist in associating his party with the excitement of the developing youth scene.

Then we got Heath. At least he had the decency to stick to classical music. It was probably the only decent thing about him, however, given that he was guilty of the biggest crime in modern British history, ie taking us into the EU, an act of treason for which his memory should be reviled forever.

Thatcher didn’t like music, as far as I can recall, but that was because she was a straight down-the-line petit bourgeois philistine and had enough self-respect not to demean herself with such common matters.

Blair, on the other hand, was the equivalent of a media flasher who could never resist getting his popcult tackle out at every opportunity. If anyone succeeded, albeit modestly, it was him. As with most atrocities of the British political scene, his was a shameless imitation of the American approach, in this case an attempt to reproduce the squalid legend of Kennedy’s Camelot. The Cool Britannia schtick didn’t last, and the bands invited to Blair’s party soon realised they’d been had.

So we come to the present sad incumbents. We’ve had the lugubrious Clegg apparently opining that Bowie’s Berlin years were the best, and Cameron claiming to like The Smiths, much to the ire of Morrissey and Marr (who has reiterated his demand that Cameron stop liking the music because he’s not our kind of people). It’s even been rumoured that George Osborne likes the music of Billy Bragg. Ooh, missus. Posh boy likes a bit of revolutionary rough. I’d say that it’s Bragg’s reputation that comes out worst in that encounter, given the size of his bank account.

It’s all fluff, though. The self-importance of musicians who hate the wrong sort of people liking their music is no better than adolescent tribalism. People can like any damn music they want. It doesn’t mean anything. I still love Pink Floyd even though Roger Waters is an unbearably smug useful idiot for the antisemitic left, happily leaving his brain behind when he compares Israel to Nazi Germany. I like The Smiths even though I couldn’t give a damn about meat being murder. As for The Jam, I liked them even more when I discovered that the bassist of the band that sang “Eton Rifles” with such disdain ended up sending his own son to Eton.

I shouldn’t think most politicians care much for any music. They’re usually so involved in politics they have little time for reality. I wouldn’t stop them from making their idiotic pronouncements about their musical tastes, however. We need to be reminded as often as possible what a bunch of goons they are.

Michael Blackburn.

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