Have I Got News For You?

Yes, it was the first day of May 2008. Yes, I did stay up half the night listening to the results coming in. I couldn’t quite believe it. Maybe it was my natural optimism*. Maybe I couldn’t quite get my head around people threatening to vote for Boris Johnson because Boris being Mayor of London would be a laugh. Maybe I just couldn’t see past Ken Livingstone**. Ken had made the job his own over the previous eight years, a big personality, with vision, and maverick enough to be anti-the government of the day and pro-London. There was good and bad with Ken of course, the revival of London buses and free travel for under-18’s in full time education on the one hand, the privatisation of London’s fleet of fire engines on the other. Being back in the Labour Party didn’t hurt in 2004 but this time out it probably didn’t help. The (perceived) bigger maverick got the vote.

Not that there was much in it. 1, 043, 761 people had Boris Johnson as their first preference vote, a statistic that I have quoted from the stage on more than one occasion. First day of May 2008. And not long after, a song was born.

The idea to write about all that dodgy stuff in Boris Johnson’s recent past; the racism, philandering, dodgy-dealing, arranging to have journalists beaten up etc., came quite quickly, but the Mayor Boris Blues just didn’t quite hit the mark. As fellow song writers will know, there’s got to be a hook and there’s got to be an angle, and both of them came together around the idea of Have I Got News For You. It also gave rise to one of my favourite couplets of all of those that I’ve written:

“Anna Fazackerly, now it’s me and you, getting screwed by the bloke off Have I Got News For You.”

But it’s nearly over. The London mayoral election happens again on 5th May this year and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson won’t be standing. Having treated the job of Mayor as a part-time gig for the last eight years, he’s leaving to concentrate full-time on his campaign to be the next leader of the Tory party***.

So there’s been talk of retirement. Not his, but in the band there are voices suggesting that we retire Have I Got News For You.

Oh.

I’m against it. I think it stands up as a historical document that’s worth airing from time to time. I also think that it’s a valuable tool in our armoury against a Johnson-led Tory party, as and when that happens. But mine is just one voice. We’re definitely going to sing it at one of the next two gigs as they’re either side of the vote, but after that it might be up to you lot. You know where to find the Protest Family. You tell ’em.

Steve

 

* Yeah, right.

** We’re not here to talk about that.

*** Of course he’s going to deny it.

 

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Pay Your Tax

Pig-Fucker in Panama Papers Pickle

Is anyone surprised that David Cameron benefited from offshore investments that paid no tax? I’m only surprised that he wriggled and tried to hide it when the Mossack Fonseca story started to break. After all this government by the rich on behalf of the rich seem to get away with pretty much whatever they want, and we may chortle at his “It’s a private matter” whining, but it’s not like he’s going to give any of it back now is it? You might call for his head too, but there will be no challenge to his leadership this side of the EU referendum, the knives are still being sharpened.

Regular listeners will know that the words to Pay Your Tax vary considerably live, giving us the chance to have a pop at the latest tax dodger du jour. If the song makes it to the set lists for either Barnsley or Brixton, Camerons junior and senior are very much in the cross-hairs. And Cameron’s the perfect target. Although the song lists corporate tax dodgers (along with the occasional dig at Gary Barlow) their “it’s not illegal, just immoral” defence holds water. The real enemy is the system of government that allows the super-rich and the multinationals to benefit from massive tax avoidance only barely hidden from public view, and Cameron is both author and beneficiary of this corrupt regime.

David Cameron, we’re coming for you.*

 

* In rhyme, with mandolins and shit.

Glossop Labour Club

glossop labour club 2bw

“Glossop Labour Club is an independent social club. It is not affiliated to any political party, but is home to people who share a progressive outlook on life.”

Ooh, that’s interesting: setting out your “No, we’re not affiliated to the Labour Party” stance in the opening paragraph of your web site. The authors of Glossop Labour Club’s site go on to add that they’re one of the oldest Labour/Socialist clubs in the country, founded in 1906 by the ILP, two years before the national party existed.

Our kind of folk, but folk we’d mostly not met before; and though a warm and friendly audience, one that was prepared to subject our songs to some scrutiny. From the stage you could almost feel people listening, working out what we meant and realising that yeah, we are all on the same side. It’s great when that happens. I remember a conversation at Tolpuddle the morning after we’d played when a fella we’d not met before (let’s call him Hugh) came back to us with a couple of lines from the first verse of No Pasaran In E17 for a fuller version of the story.*

Talking of anonymous contributors to the story, I used a fictional friend (let’s call him Dave) as part of the intro to Victoria Says. Fictional Dave is of course based on a real friend called, um, Dave, but being 200 miles away from home I thought I’d got away with it. Turns out that Dave (the real one) had a mate in the room who he’d encouraged to come along if we were ever playing nearby. Busted. But in a good way.

Anyway, an hour long set gave us a good opportunity to set out our stall to a new crowd. We started with a bang, messed around with spoons and poetry in the middle, and finished on a high with a Pete Seeger singalong and our version of the National Anthem. We got a lovely review in the Morning Star too.

With a bit of TLC, the Protest Family tour bus made it to and from Glossop without incident and we’ll hope for the same again as we head to Barnsley on May Day for the Festival of Solidarity in the Polish Club. That’s one you don’t want to miss, a gathering of the great and the good of the lefty touring scene, with an average age slightly lower than the Pensioners Against The Cuts Tour.

May Day Festival of Solidarity

You should come.

Steve

* Hugh: “So what you’re saying is that the RMT used health and safety to perform an overtly political act and oppose fascism?” Us: “Yeah”.