Here’s an idea… forget the spin-doctors and the mainstream media and instead explore the political landscape via the music it’s inspiring.
You probably won’t have heard much, if anything, of what follows. It’s not played on the TV or radio, the political parties themselves don’t know it exists and almost certainly wouldn’t care for it if they did – with one exception. There is one party who understand the concept very well – can you guess which one ?
This is folk music (small ‘f’), music performed by folk, singing about their concerns. For the most part it’s DIY recordings and videos, probably made on no budget at all in most cases, and released into the wild via Youtube and other sites.
It’s not-for-profit, its makes no money for corporations, it almost certainly wont be on your radio. But its inventive, satirical, funny, vitriolic and often thought-provoking. What else do you need ?
Once upon a time, protest music like this would have been the domain of either a person with a guitar (the folkie approach) or a band (the punk approach). Both would have had to use a recording studio for best results, press records or cassettes, and then have to distribute them.
It all took time and money.
Nowadays you can have a recording studio on your PC, record and mix your track and within minutes post it on the internet. Within an hour it could be heard by more people than you’d ever have believed possible in the old days.
What follows is a selection of these songs. They are mainly protesting against various parties or individuals – there are actually very few songs promoting political parties, and they are usually pretty dire – as an example I’d point you towards ex-Radio 1 DJ Mike Read’s ‘Ukip Calypso’, which had to be withdrawn from sale after claims that it was racist. I reckon it was the attempt to sing it in a fake West Indian accent that did it.
Ukip tried to salvage something from the wreckage by saying that all proceeds would go to the Red Cross to help fight Ebola, only for the Red Cross to reply;
“As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party.
“In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics.”
Read later told BBC London:
“People are very, very, very quick to take offence now at something that years ago would have been deemed to be a bit of satire and a bit of fun..”
Could this be the same Mike Read who in 1984 was instrumental in getting the BBC to ban Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” on the grounds that it was obscene ? I think it could.
For the record (sic) “Relax” subsequently shot to Number 1 in the charts, stayed there for five weeks, going on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year and ultimately becoming the seventh best-selling UK single of all time.
Banning things rarely makes them go away.
Well, since we were talking about Ukip, I’ll start with selection of songs about them.
There are lots of them ! I’ve chosen a small selection of my favorites.
Interestingly, there are a lot of female artists recording anti-Ukip songs…make what you will of that.
Anyone who reads Private Eye will know that Ukippers tend to have a very low tolerance of satire directed against them, so perhaps they might want to skip therest.
The rest of you… enjoy !
Who Put The U In UKIP? – David Goody
(Dont) Vote Ukip – K Pizz
Fab Farage: A UKIP Odyssey (featuring Stella)
The Daily Mail UKIP Song
Ukip – Jonny & The Baptists
And my favorite…
Lets put the blight back into Blighty
Like the Dark Ages, but more white-y
Song For UKIP – Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
To be continued…
Not one leader from any of the major political parties has visited Tyne and Wear or County Durham as part of the General Election campaign.
David Cameron is the only leader so far to even venture into ANY part of the North East since the dissolution of parliament.
He visited Northumberland’s Alnwick and Stockton, the two areas where his party has a chance of winning next month, but bypassed large swathes of the region.
Labour leader Ed Miliband – whose party is favourite to win EVERY seat in Durham, Tyneside and Wearside, most seats in Teesside and half of those in Northumberland – has failed to make a public appearance anywhere in the North East.
The Liberal Democrats are defending Redcar and Berwick-upon-Tweed, yet Nick Clegg has been nowhere to be seen.
Nigel Farage claims UKIP is targeting parts of Teesside and has a strong interest in Blyth, and yet the leader of the “people’s army” has not made a public appearance anywhere in the North East.
And despite evidence of a Green surge in pockets of the region, Natalie Bennett has not visited to show support for her party’s candidates, either.
The North East is widely-regarded as safe Labour territory and this may explain the lack of interest from the parties’ top politicians in campaigning in this area.
Nonetheless, voters will be disappointed when they compare the region to, say, the Greater Manchester area, where the parties are fighting a higher number of key marginals.
Nick Clegg has visited seats in Greater Manchester four times, David Cameron twice and Ed Miliband four times.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 25 Apr 2015
> UKIP’s intention of becoming the people’s party in the North East doesn’t seem to be going too well.
First one of their Newcastle candidates managed to upset both Jewish and Muslim voters in less than a week. Then their office in Blyth was targeted.
Now reports of more grassroots action on Wearside…they could be excused for thinking someone doesn’t like them much….
UKIP have hit out at vandals who tore down advertising hoardings and attacked a home, accusing them of an “attack on free speech”.
Party officials say six incidents have been reported to police in the space of one week in Hetton, Houghton, Newbottle and East Rainton.
It started on Tuesday, April 14, when a 4ft by 4ft board was stolen from a residential garden in South Street, East Rainton.
Then, on Saturday, the acts took a more sinister turn when a Wesleyan Chapel – converted into a home in Front Street, Hetton – was attacked.
On Sunday, a board on private land at Grasswell was sawn down.
It was replaced on Monday, this time only lasting half an hour before being chopped down again.
On Tuesday, two boards were stolen from a private field at the junction of Murton Lane and Colliery Lane.
The party’s parliamentary candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, Richard Elvin, said:
“Our parents and grandparents, many of whom gave their lives, fought to preserve our democracy and the right to free speech.
“It appears that many people, especially those who describe themselves as left wing, seek to deny these hard-won freedoms.
“UKIP supporters do not invade private property or steal or vandalise other political parties’ promotional material.
“We appreciate that people have different political views to ours and we show due respect, which is the way everyone in a civilised democracy should behave.
“There is no place for intimidation, theft or damage in a British society, against anyone who does not agree with your personal political beliefs.”
Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said:
“Police take any incidents of criminal damage very seriously.
“We have been made aware of a number of incidents in the Sunderland area regarding advertising boards being damaged or removed.
“We are working closely with the victims to carry out a full investigation.
“I would ask anyone who may have any information about these incidents to contact police.”
Also standing in the parliamentary election for Houghton and Sunderland South are Stewart Hay (Conservative), Jim Murray (LibDem), Bridget Phillipson (Labour) and Alan Robinson (Green Party).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 24 Apr 2015
Police are investigating a threat to behead a UKIP election candidate after the 62-year-old reported a disturbing phone call.
David Robinson-Young, a 62-year-old barrister who hopes to be elected to represent the Newcastle East constituency, has said he fears for his personal safety after the “chilling” experience.
He described the man as an “irate” constituent who he says identified himself as a Muslim and angry with the Government.
He said the man was initially calm but after some minutes began to shout and swear at which point the former policeman hung up.
Mr Robinson-Young said:
“He said the Muslim community is really annoyed with the British government supporting bombing Muslim countries and that the community here just wants to get on with their family lives.”
Mr Robinson-Young said the man swore at him before making the beheading threat.
Northumbria Police confirmed they had received a complaint and are investigating the matter.
Mr Robinson-Young added:
“I’m not a man who is easily intimidated, I’m an ex-policeman and I’ve been subjected to numerous physical threats in the past. I left the police service because of injuries received in an assault on duty.
“I found this man’s threats to be particularly chilling and it as really shaken me. However I will not let this incident prevent me from continuing in the campaign to try and change our country for the better.”
> How very ironic – it’s only a few days since Robinson-Young was coming under fire from Newcastle’s Jewish community for his party’s xenophobic policies. UKIP certainly seem to be uniting the local population.
Meanwhile, the UKIP campaign office in Blyth has vandalised this week for the second time.
Crosses and the word ‘No’ were daubed on to the shutters of the office.
Jonathan Arnott, North East UKIP MEP, said:
“This is now the second time that anti-democracy protesters have vandalised our office in Blyth.
“Sadly some people don’t respect our fundamental British freedoms.
“This comes at a time when some of our candidates have received death threats, showing the ugly face of some of those who oppose our message of freedom, independence and democracy.
“Ultimately this kind of criminal activity will prove counterproductive as it will simply spur our activists on to work harder and campaign for longer.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Apr 2015
A hustings debate in the North East erupted into a full scale row between organisers and supporters of a party which said it had been unfairly excluded from the event.
It took place at Tyne Metropolitan College in Wallsend on Tuesday night in which candidates from the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, Green and UKIP parties for the North Tyneside constituency had been invited to share a stage.
However Tim Wall, who is the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate, was not.
Before the debate started TUSC supporters entered the hall to take organisers to task for the omission in an exchange that was filmed.
On it, Mr Wall is seen sitting in one of the seats reserved for those who had been invited, introducing himself to the slightly bemused audience and telling them: “I have a democratic right to take part.”
However, chairman of TyneMet College board of governors, Bill Midgley, is seen firmly telling him: “No you have not.”
Mr Midgley said before the event advice had been from the Association of Colleges (AoC) and they were told they should invite candidates from the three main parties as well as UKIP and the Greens as they all have MPs in parliament.
He added they were also following Electoral Commission guidelines which said it was a requirement that all candidates standing for a constituency should take part unless there was a practical or objective reason not to do.
Mr Midgley said their objective reason had been that they were following AoC guidelines, which said only parties with sitting MPs should attend.
He said that the National Front candidate for the constituency also had not been invited, a link which infuriated the TUSC supporters.
“How dare they tar us with the same brush as a race hate party when we have fought so hard against racism,” said Mr Wall after the event.
Eventually the debate went ahead, without Mr Wall taking part.
However he now says he could take the matter up with the Electoral Commission.
“We feel we were undemocratically excluded from the event.
“TUSC candidates have been invited to take part in hustings events at colleges across the country but not here. It seems to me they are all over the place.”
Mr Wall said that while a new party, formed five years ago, the TUSC was “the biggest of the small parties” as it had candidates standing in 135 constituencies and 600 in the local elections.
Mr Wall said:
“It’s unfathomable what they did. Isn’t this organisation supposed to be educating young people, presumably giving them the idea that democracy is a good thing? Instead they are deciding who they can and can’t listen to.”
Speaking after the event Mr Midgley accused the TUSC of trying to “hijack” the meeting and was adamant they had done nothing wrong and was insistent they had abided by AoC and Electoral Commission guidelines.
“We made it quite clear to them why we had invited the five candidates,” he said.
Ann Marie Crozier, Deputy Principal of the college, said it was TUSC’s prerogative to take the matter up with the Electorial Commission it they wanted to.
However she added: “We’re confident we followed the national guidelines to the letter.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Apr 2015
A Green Party candidate has waded into a row over a Labour MP’s refusal to debate with a Ukip politician from out of the area – saying the Labour Party itself fielded a candidate from Teesside at an earlier event.
Sunderland Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Julie Elliot declined to debate with Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott in an event at Sunderland University on Monday.
Mr Arnott had attended in place of his party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency Bryan Foster, whose wife Dorothy’s chronic illness had taken a turn for the worse.
Mrs Elliot’s reasons were that Mr Arnott is a candidate for Easington and not Sunderland Central.
Now Green Party candidate Rachel Featherstone has hit out at her decision because she was substituted with a candidate from Teesside at an event held at St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke, in March.
Ms Featherstone said Mrs Elliott had no objections in the past, when in the second debate, a local election candidate stood in for LibDem candidate Adrian Page.
“I was happy to debate with the Ukip representative,” Ms Featherstone said. “I believe that in the interests of democracy, all the parties should have been represented.
“I’m concerned that this may affect the willingness of the university to host this kind of event in the future.”
She added: “The organisers are to be commended for the efforts they made to ensure this was a lively and informative debate.”
A Labour Party spokesman said the debate at St Aidan’s was a regional event, with parliamentary candidates from outside Sunderland taking part, while the Age UK debate was a whole of Sunderland city debate not a Sunderland Central hustings.
“It’s odd to see the Green Party cosying up to Ukip,” he said.
“But our position remains the same our candidate debates with other Sunderland Central parliamentary candidates in hustings for Sunderland Central constituency.”
Also standing in the Sunderland Central constituency is Jeffrey Guy Townsend (Conservative) and Jospeh Young (Independent).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Apr 2015
OFTEC, the UK trade body for oil fired heating, has written to parliamentary candidates in Northumberland urging their party to put fuel poverty high on their list of election pledges. Statistics showed that fuel poverty in Northumberland directly contributed to 100 excess winter deaths in the winter of 2012/13.
In the letter, OFTEC called for candidates to support better measures aimed at reducing fuel bills as well as carbon emissions of homes in Northumberland, including providing cash for households to improve their insulation and replace their old, inefficient boilers.
Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, said:
“It is a scandal that 100 people in Northumberland died during the previous winter simply because they could not afford to heat their home properly. There’s a great opportunity for the new government to introduce energy policies that help ordinary households across the county and this is why we have challenged party candidates to support the measures we put forward.”
The letter was sent to Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP and Green candidates in all rural constituencies across Northumberland. It was co-signed by rural communities’ charity ACRE and FPS, the federation of petroleum suppliers.
For more information about reducing your fuel costs visit http://www.oilsave.org.uk
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 22 Apr 2015
A UKIP election hopeful has been heckled for his party’s ‘xenophobic’ policies by leading members of Newcastle’s Jewish community.
Eric Josephs, a former co-chair of the North East Jewish representative council, shouted at UKIP parliamentary candidate David Robinson Young, ‘that’s xenophobic’ as he outlined his views on immigration at a synagogue in Gosforth, Newcastle during a hustings event.
He was backed up by a man whose family escaped Nazi Germany with three days before war broke out, who said that if there had been UKIP’s favoured Australian style points system in 1939 ‘believe me, I would have died’.
Mr Robinson Young, a leading city barrister running in the Newcastle East constituency , strongly denied the accusation.
He said: “I am not xenophonic and no-one in my party is xenophobic.
“We don’t have a problem with immigration, but we have a problem with the politically motivated immigration system at the moment.”
However German born Walter Knoblauch, who lost his grandmother, aunt and great-uncle in the concentration camps, backed up Mr Josephs’ outburst.
“What you are saying is abhorrent. If there had been a points system in 1939 when I arrived here, believe me I would have died. I left Germany three days before the war broke out. We did not have time to build up points.”
Mr Knoblauch, who lives in Gosforth, arrived from Munich to Newcastle, with the assistance of Newcastle man Stanley Holmes who worked for the Tyneside Industrial Development Board. Mr Holmes was instrumental in bringing many German Jewish families to Newcastle and invited Walter’s father Herman to set up a shoe businesses, Knorbrit Products, at Orchard Street, Newcastle, and later Laco Shoes.
Walter’s brother John also ran Victory Shoe shops at the Grainger Market, Shields Road and Gateshead High Street before he died in 1982.
Mr Robinson Young said during the hustings event ahead of the General Election that cases where refugees are escaping ‘tyranny’, including current African migration across the Mediterranean sea would be considered in a different light by UKIP if they were to get into power following the May 7 General Election.
He said: “If people are genuine refugees from tyranny by all means lets look at them as this country did for you.”
Liberal Democrat Newcastle city councillor for West Gosforth, Jackie Slesenger, said from the audience that she was immensely proud of the citizenship ceremonies that take place in Newcastle every year with up to a 100 people from around the world who have chosen to make Britain their home and asked Mr Robinson Young to think again about ‘what he says about immigration’.
He said: “No-one thinks carefully about immigration can possibly say they don’t like immigration.
“People who do that are ignorant. I’m not ignorant and we have nothing against immigration, it’s the system. We do not have a race problem, we have a space problem. This country is filling up.”
He also said it was important to focus not just on the number of immigrants coming to the UK, but the quality of the people arriving, and the skills and professions they have to offer the country.
The hustings event organised by the Representative Council of North East Jewry was held at the Synagogue Hall, Graham Park Road.
Also present were Newcastle Central parliamentary candidates, Chi Onwurah for Labour, Nick Cott for the Liberal Democrats and Simon Kitchen for the Conservatives.
Daniel O’Brien Thompson, the UKIP candidate for Newcastle Central, did not take part in the hustings, but was present in the audience.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 21 Apr 2015
The majority of students at two leading North East universities intend to vote Conservative in the forthcoming General Election, a new poll has revealed.
This is despite the party pushing up annual tuition fees for students to a maximum of £9,000 in 2012, up from £3,290.
The Student Politics 2015 poll, by independent research company High Fliers Research, is based on more than 13,000 face-to-face interviews with final year students at 30 UK universities.
Two North East universities, Durham and Newcastle, were represented in the survey and an overwhelming majority of students at both institutions voted in favour of the Conservatives.
At Durham University 45 per cent of students said they intended to vote Conservative at the General Election.
Only 27 per cent of finalists said they would be voting Labour, eight per cent Liberal Democrat and 17 per cent Green Party.
A small portion, two per cent, said they intended to vote for UKIP.
Down the road at Newcastle University, the political picture appears similar with 35 per cent saying they intend to vote Conservative at the May elections.
This is followed by 27 per cent of students voting Labour, three per cent Liberal Democrat and 29 per cent in favour of the Green Party. Only one per cent said they would be voting for UKIP.
Across the country, more than 30 per cent of students questioned intend to vote for Labour and the Conservative party in the forthcoming General Election.
A quarter of finalists plan to vote for the Green Party but only six per cent are backing the Liberal Democrats and just one per cent are UKIP supporters. Three per cent expect to vote for the SNP.
The Conservatives are the most popular party at 14 out of the 30 universities included within the survey and among the country’s greatest supporters are Durham University students.
Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall, said:
“Our research not only confirms that first-time voters at the country’s top universities are set to vote for Labour and the Conservatives in almost equal numbers in the General Election but that there has been a huge surge in support for the Green Party on campus, taking them to within just a few percentage points of the two leading parties. By contrast, just six per cent of students are planning to vote Liberal Democrat, a quarter of the number who supported the party in 2010.”
> If true, then students deserve all the extra tuition fees they get heaped on them.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015
A stark warning setting out “grave concerns” about extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants has been issued to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Bill Midgley, chairman of Newcastle-based social housing provider Leazes Homes, accuses the politician of using “the sanctity of a person’s home” as an “election bargaining chip” after the pledge was revealed in the Conservative Party Manifesto last week.
Mr Midgley echoes fears voiced by others in the sector as he outlines how a policy that forces associations to sell off their assets would mean they have less borrowing power.
Because of this, he says, associations could not build more homes for some of the most vulnerable in society, including “older people, those with learning disabilities and those with mental health problems.”
The letter reads:
“If organisations like us are unable to secure loan funding for supported housing properties then the potential damage is unthinkable. It is essential that such accommodation can be provided by the affordable housing sector.”
The Tories say the plan opens the possibility of home ownership up to thousands of people who may otherwise be locked out of the market.
The National Housing Federation estimates there are 19,620 people in the North East who would be eligible for a mortgage under the plans and that it will cost £808m to implement the policy.
But Mr Midgley fears poor people may be forced to pay higher rents in the private sector.
Signing off the letter to Mr Cameron, he said:
“I urge you to reconsider this proposal. We have a duty as a society to provide our citizens with good-quality, affordable housing, but the sanctity of a person’s home is not something to be used as a bargaining chip to secure election votes.”
Guy Opperman, the Conservative candidate for Hexham defended the policy –
“We want more people who work hard and save up to be able to enjoy the security of owning their own home.
“Right now it is too difficult for housing association tenants to buy their own home. Until now the Right to Buy has only been available to tenants in local authority properties. This means there are around 500,000 housing association tenants who have no right to buy their home.
“The Right to Buy scheme has already helped around two million families to realise their dream of owning a home. By now extending the Right to Buy to housing associations tenants, we will help more people who want to move on and up the housing ladder.
“Our proposals will increase house building, increase home ownership and reduce waiting lists. Right to Buy improves social mobility and builds mixed communities.
“It gives something back to families who worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules and gives people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood.”
The Conservatives have pledged to improve their help-to-buy scheme and have also committed to 200,000 new starter homes in their manifesto.
Similarly Labour says it will build 200,000 new homes by 2020 and that private sector rent would be capped should Ed Miliband be Prime Minister.
The Lib Dems have pledged 300,000 homes a year, and ten garden cities as well as a rent-to-buy ownership scheme.
UKIP plan to build one million homes on brownfield sites by 2020, and Nigel Farage wants to restrict right-to-buy and help-to-buy schemes to British nationals.
Should the Greens win power they will regulate private sector rent and build 500,000 social homes.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015