Saturday, 16 February 2013

Rock stars were once born to be wild – now they’re evidently born to be political poodles

Does anybody in the pop world ever have an original political thought? Are any of them actually capable of thinking for themselves in any meaningful way? Do they never feel the slightest urge to swim against the tide? Why are they so bloody conformist?

These questions popped into my head as I watched a video posted (in a non-supportive way) by e.f. bartlam on his Flimsy Cups blog (here). Unless you actually want to hear “Parklife” again, go to 1’45” and listen to former Blur frontman Damon Albarn sharing some of his fascinating political insights:

British lefties loathe the white working classes who inhabit Essex and most of the white Americans who don’t live in coastal cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco – and they loathe both groups for the same reason. The Left
turned against England’s white private-sector working classes during the '80s because the selfish bastards kept voting for Mrs. Thatcher. The reason they did this was because she turned the economy around, and the former Eastenders who’d spilled out of London mainly as a result of slum clearances suddenly found they could afford to buy their own houses and decent motors (well, Mondeos) and go on more foreign holidays and eat out regularly. Because Essex Man rather liked these lifestyle changes, he and his missus (or bird) kept voting for the politician who – as far as they were concerned - had made all this possible. They weren’t Tories, these people  - they were Thatcherites.

Labour supporters – in particular, pop stars, stand-up comics, broadcasters, public sector managers, teachers and academics – have never forgiven the working folk of Essex for not supporting their “comrades” in taxpayer-subsidised heavy industries up north when Mrs T decided it was time for a bit of a clear-out. Unfortunately, Essex Man remained firmly convinced that Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock were – well, wankers. And they thought Arthur Scargill was an even bigger one.

Tony Blair eventually turned it round for Labour by recognising that the upwardly-mobile working classes no longer gave a rat’s arse about class war and had grown tired of being sneered at and hectored by university-educated middle class socialists, who seemed to want them all to live in council flats, ride mopeds, holiday in Blackpool and keep voting for communist gauleiters. Blair paid homage to Mrs. Thatcher and tried not to screw up the economy – but his deranged chancellor and successor, Gordon "Bugsy" Brown, wouldn’t leave well enough alone and spent all our money (and then some) trying to establish Labour’s Thousand-Year Reich by shoring up his party’s public sector, immigrant and welfare recipient electoral base.

Albarn’s disdain for the white people of Essex is a classic example of this tendency. If these frightful loadsamoney vulgarians hadn’t been able to increase their income exponentially, they would have remained safely penned up on their grotty council estates, and rich rock stars would have been able to go on enjoying the British countryside in all its pristine, prelapsarian splendour.

So where does America come in? Well, where did the ghastly Thatcher woman get all her dreadful social and economic ideas from? Yup – mainly from the United States (at least, the way it had been before the likes of Jimmy Carter began running its economy into the ground). Of course, many other influences shaped Mrs Thatcher’s policies – among them, her father, Sir Keith Joseph and Friedrich Hayek. But one suspects it was rich, democratic, low-tax America that acted as her personal “shining city on a hill”. Consequently, the British Left - and their amen corner in the entertainment industry – now view the non-coastal US as a vast version of Essex, full of white, fat, vulgar, economically exploitative, environment-destroying, racist, cultureless money-grubbers.

Before the 1979 general election, Paul Weller, referring to his group, The Jam, said “We will all be voting Conservative”. All hell broke loose. He subsequently assured everyone it had been meant as a joke designed to wind up tour partners, The Clash. Weller then swiftly re-invented himself as a frothing socialist warrior. Since the Changingman’s little faux-pas, the number of pop or rock performers who’ve said anything even vaguely right-wing can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I think the last one was Phil Collins when he threatened to leave the country if Labour won the 1997 election – cue furore followed by a denial that he hadn’t really meant it. Sigh!

Now, I absolutely don’t care what people who make music think about anything except music – I mean, why should we imagine that the sort of abnormal lives these people lead would produce political insights denied to those of us who aren’t sheltered from humdrum reality?

But if they insist on sharing their pathetically predictable pro-Occupy drivellings with us, would it be too much to ask that one of them – just one! – brought a few brain cells into play, grew a pair, and said something remotely interesting or original enough to get them into trouble with the fascist Left?


  1. I don't know if you've watched the entire documentary but, everything about the era, from the Stone Roses at Spike Island to Blair's election is explained as liberation from Thatcher. Major is almost not mentioned...until someone points out that he was PM while all this was going on.

    Louise Werner seems like a very sane person. I don't know what her politics are but, she describes seeing Noel Gallhager at Blair's victory cocktail party as watching his balls being cut off.

    That insistence on a direct connection between political leadership and pop culture is a strange one to me but, I think that has to being a Southerner...politics is not life here. It may sometimes seem like death but, people vote to live, not live to vote.

  2. I don't know much about the US political system, but I think you get to vote for a lot more things than we do at a local level, and, despite the regular assaults on states' rights, far more is decided at the local level than it is here - for instance, the amount by which councils here can increase local taxes is capped. Taken together, I presume that means national elections may be slightly less important to you. Also, as we have an awful lot of people scrunched into a small island and London isn't that far away from anywhere, I suspect that people instinctively feel that the decisions being taken at Westminster affect them more directly. (This all pure speculation, and probably totally spurious!)

    Whatever, I think we're heading towards a more American attitude to national politics. There's barely a Rizla's worth of difference between the pokicies of the three main parties, none of which has any credible plan to start repaying our debt, turnouts at elections are pitifully low and only the emergence of UKIP - essentially the Thatcherite wing of the Tory party - is creating any interest whatsoever. Thatcher divided the country because she broke - spectacularly - with the post-war, left-leaning political consensus, so voting back in the '80s really mattered.

    Mrs. Thatcher is no longer a human being or even a retired politician - like the Queen and Winston Churchill, she's become a symbol, a sort of archetype of Britain's collective subconscious, which probably accounts for why reactions to her are so irrational, and why people blame her for anything from the last 40 or 50 years that happened to annoy them. John Major - a weak leader whose government did many good things - just got caught in the psychological cross-fire.

    The pop culture/politics thing was started by a Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson, in the '60s, when he awarded the four Beatles honours - MBEs. The Blair shindig you mentioned unfortunately convinced pop stars (and writers and artists and actors) that they were important political thinkers! We're still suffering from the consequences of that ghastly PR stunt.

  3. Local governance is the only way to keep a country like the U.S. together. What has everybody so concerned right now, and rightly so, is that we are moving toward a National government.

    That can't possibly survive (so maybe not a bad thing after all). You can't have a "local" government shared by people in Massachusetts and Mississippi. We're talking about folks with two completely different world-views. People that probably couldn't even agree on how the trash should be collected...never mind what the actual role of government is.

    Albarn goes on to say that he was invited to the party but declined the invitation. He felt betrayed once he realized that Labour didn't really want to hear what he had to say.

    1. The real mystery is why Abarn thought that his political opinions should receive more attention than those espoused by the rest of the electorate. Besides, most young people are fascists and narcissists - they can't understand why the world isn't the way they want it to be, and they want a "Daddy" politician to wave a wand and make reality conform to their desires.

      Localism here has been distorted over the decades. Left-wing councils have been saved from themselves by a national cap on raising local taxes - half of me is relieved that they can't spend all the money they want (our local council is Labour), while the other half of me would like to see all caps lifted so voters could experience the full effects of left-wing profligacy, arrogance and incompetence, just as they have at the national level. Mind you, so many people here live off the state I'm not sure it would make a blind bit of difference!

      Scotland is one part of the UK which might have acted as a terrible warning to the rest of the Kingdom about the danger of voting for socialists at a regional level - but, thanks to hefty subsidies from us folk in the South, they've never been made to suffer for their political choices.