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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tories not so cool after all

I am obliged to Harry's Place for this wonderful extract from Hansard, which illustrates perfectly how trying to be cool and trendy can backfire on a politician when they are not really in touch. Personally, I think that Iain Wright over-egged his point a little but you get the drift:

Theresa May:...Finally, will the Leader of the House arrange a debate on the influence of popular culture on political life? I am sure that many hon. Members will be saddened to hear about the demise of “Top of the Pops”, which has played such a role in the cultural life of the nation. Of course, pop songs can be very relevant to politics. For example, given the Home Secretary’s recent problems, I wonder whether he should listen to the U2 track “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Perhaps we could have a touch of Dire Straits for the Deputy Prime Minister with the track “Money for Nothing”. I suppose that the Chancellor might look to Diana Ross with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. Perhaps the Prime Minister would like the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go”. Talking of clashes, perhaps the Chancellor would describe his relationship with the Prime Minister with the White Stripes track “Every Day I Love You Less and Less”. Or, given the Chancellor’s commitment to new Labour, maybe his track for him and the Prime Minister should be Elton John’s “Friends Never Say Goodbye”......

Mr. Iain Wright (Hartlepool) (Lab): Before I ask my question, I should point out to the House that the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) was incorrect, because “Every Day I Love You Less and Less” is sung by the Kaiser Chiefs rather than the White Stripes, which demonstrates that in popular culture, as in other things, the Conservative party has got it completely wrong. With reference to the right hon. Lady, I am tempted to refer to the Artic Monkeys’ song, “Mardy bum”, but I shall be more gracious, and say, “I bet you look good on the dance floor”.

I reproduce this not just because it is mildly amusing but also because it makes a useful point about Cameron's new Conservative Party, they are just not in tune with the modern, hip political force he is trying to create.

There is no better illustration of this phenomena than the reaction of senior Tories to Cameron's appearance on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. The Mail on Sunday has labelled the programme 'Obscene', whilst Lord Tebbit and Gerald Howarth MP have demanded Ross's head on a platter. His crime? Insulting the memory of Mrs Thatcher, whilst engaging in lewd banter with the leader of a political party. Well, what did they expect?

I am not writing this to defend Jonathan Ross, but to point out the likelihood that until Cameron's appearance on his show most Tories would have had little or no idea exactly what that programme's standard is or why it attracts so many of the young voters whose support they hanker after. In fact given their apparent desire to turn the BBC into a 24 hours, seven day a week version of the Sound of Music, a lot of these Tories are out-of-touch with most of the programming content that proves so popular with that part of the population whom Cameron is targeting.

What is clear is that Cameron is trying to reinvent the Conservative Party but is failing to take his colleagues with him both on style and substance. Perhaps next time he tries to be cool on TV he should issue a warning to all Conservative Party members so that they know what to expect and include a glossary as well, just in case.
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