Why stars must sing out against the ly­ing snake oil sales­men

Daily Mirror - - NEWS -

MICHAEL Gove wants to change the law so that peo­ple can be free to scav­enge on coun­cil tips.

We need more mu­si­cians to take a po­lit­i­cal stand like they did decades ago

It’s a won­der­ful snap­shot of where this coun­try is – as­sur­ing us, as it does, that aus­ter­ity is def­i­nitely, def­i­nitely over.

And I can just imag­ine the con­ver­sa­tion among the kind of peo­ple who may ben­e­fit from Gove’s largesse:

HER: “Where are you off to to­day, love?”

HIM: “I thought I’d go the food bank to get us some­thing to eat.”

HER: “On your way back, can you head to the tip and find us a ta­ble to eat it on.”

HIM: “What hap­pened to the one I got last week?”

HER: “What do you think that glow in the hearth staving off pneu­mo­nia is?”

If I was a lyri­cist I’d prob­a­bly try to turn that into a song called “Tak­ing Bri­tain Back… to Dick­en­sian times.”

I’m at the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val this week­end. If I were an ac­tor giv­ing a speech at a pre­miere, I’d like to think I had the guts to say: “Some­one has just paid £160mil­lion for a flat in Knights­bridge, a cou­ple of miles down the road from here, and is rent­ing it out for £150,000 a week.

“If you walk there af­ter this film you’ll pass dozens and dozens of home­less peo­ple who can’t af­ford a roof over their heads in this city. Is it any won­der why, when our morals have been so skew­ered by greed?”

Now, if you were a fan of my mu­sic, or act­ing, ex­press­ing such sen­ti­ments may make you want to boy­cott my work and I might be­come less rich and less pop­u­lar. That’s the risk all artists in the real world run. So fair play to Roger Wa­ters for con­demn­ing the neo-fas­cist Brazil­ian pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Jair Bol­sonaro, dur­ing a con­cert in Sao Paolo.

The Pink Floyd founder’s ap­peals to the au­di­ence not to vote for his far-right agenda drew cheers, but also a bar­rage of abuse from his fans.

And fair play to Tay­lor Swift for urg­ing her fel­low Amer­i­cans not to vote for Repub­li­can can­di­dates who stand be­hind Bol­sonaro’s ide­o­log­i­cal soul­mate Don­ald Trump.

The same goes to Trump sup­port­ers Kanye West and Gene Sim­mons of Kiss. If they want to sing his praises at their shows, it’s their shout.

There’s been a sav­age back­lash to Swift in some quar­ters, which I don’t get. Maybe some think, as an at­trac­tive young woman, her job is to sing sweet tunes while look­ing pretty and un­threat­en­ing, like some 21st cen­tury Doris Day.

But as Jon McClure, front­man of Sh­effield group Rev­erend and the Mak­ers said, de­fend­ing Swift on morn­ing TV: “She’s an artist and mu­sic is the most pop­u­lar art form. No­body would have said to Pi­casso, ‘Don’t paint Guer­nica, stick to vases’.”

At a time when vot­ers are be­ing conned by ly­ing, snake oil sales­men mas­querad­ing as Men Of the Peo­ple, we need more, not less, mu­si­cians tak­ing a po­lit­i­cal stand as they did in decades gone by.

When I was a young, de­voted pop-picker I bought records like UB40’s One in Ten, The Spe­cials’ Ghost Town, The Beat’s Stand Down Mar­garet, Elvis Costello’s anti-Falk­lands clas­sic, Ship­build­ing, and The Jam’s Fu­neral Pyre (key lyric: “the weak get crushed as the strong grow stronger”).

I wish to­day’s bands had their balls and fire. To those who do, I say more power to your lar­ynx.

If the crit­ics don’t like it, tough. And if your fans don’t like it, then they shouldn’t be lik­ing you in the first place.

BACK­LASH But Swift was right to tell fans not to vote Repub­li­can

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