Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Nigel, meet Pierre…

Here's 'Third Swan' by King Creosote and John Hopkins, from their collaboration Diamond Mine. I bought the album after hearing it repeatedly for months. It's the classic grower, and this is one of the more upbeat tracks on this melancholic, atmospheric piece of work.

Don't, by the way, buy albums by King Creosote or John Hopkins: KC's other work is so generically jangly-Scottish-indie that even I was bored to tears, and I own the complete works of 18 Wheeler, the BMX Bandits and Spare Snare (plus every side-project touched by Teenage Fanclub members). As for Jon Hopkins, well, he has an album called The Art of Chill 2. Enough said.

All this is helping distract me – or soothe me – from the marking. Not that it's bad, it's just that 40 essays on the same question can be a little wearing. Other distractions include the political car-crash that is UKIP (or should that be 'national car-crash' given that so many of you are voting for the English Poujade?). Does this remind you of anyone?
Poujadism, however, lives on. Anti-tax, anti-Semitic and anti-establishment … blend of gruff nationalism, direct action and arcadian nostalgia…
The curse of many extremist parties—bickering, indiscipline and lack of experience—was one reason for the failure. Another was more personal to Mr Poujade: he was a man of protest, not policy. Unlike other politicians…who have campaigned against vested interests, national decline and the abandonment of the traditional values of ordinary people, Mr Poujade had no serious remedies to offer.
He also had a gift for colourful, often coarse, phrases: he would take the side, he said, of “des petits, des matraqués, des spoliés, des laminés, des humiliés” (the little man, the downtrodden, the trashed, the ripped off, the humiliated) against “the vampire state”. He could play an audience brilliantly, pandering to every prejudice, and his followers could disrupt meetings. But, all in all, he was neither a thinker nor a strategist, merely a demagogue.

Although of course unlike Poujade, Nigel Farage isn't one of the petits: he's a hugely rich man whose former job – commodities broker – contributed to the despoliation of the social structure he and other conservatives purport to cherish: it's the central contradiction in free-market conservatism. You can of course take one side or the other, but Nigel appears not to notice any contradiction. He tried to hold a carnival in Croydon today which was a bit of a damp squib when the steel band realised they'd been hoodwinked and packed up: Nigel cancelled his appearance and local UKIP types declared Croydon unsafe and 'depraved'.

Perhaps next time he should book Half A Shilling:

Sadly, the British voters don't seem likely to consign Nigel to Poujade's fate
He ended his days promoting Jerusalem artichokes as an alternative to fossil fuels.
And of course Farage doesn't see any reason to need alternatives to fossil fuels.

The other distraction is the hacking trial. Yes, it's still going on. Rebekah Brooks' lawyer claimed today that it was impossible for her to have a fair trial thanks to 'sexism' – this from the former editor of The Sun – and 'negative media coverage' (ditto). I have a horrible feeling that the sheer complexity of the trial may result in some undeserved acquittals. Still, we can expect one of the Murdoch press's regular protests about being soft on criminals, can't we? Can't we?

1 comment:

Phil said...

I think KC's first (proper) album is pretty good, partly because he had a lot of songs to pick from and partly because it was basically "KC with the Earlies", a massively under-rated band.

I liked Diamond Mine (which I bought without "Third Swan") a lot, but it made me wish KC was a bit more of a folkie and a bit less of, well, a navel-gazing indie whiner. What that voice could do with some decent material! As it is, the best parts of the album are the ones that are more JH than KC.

On Poujade, I wrote a review essay (mainly about the Tea Party) recently which concluded - slightly to my own surprise - that the successful populists are those who succeed in gaining political credibility as populists, and the key to doing that is having elite allies. In which case Farage is much scarier than Poujade (or L'Uomo Qualunque, the Poujadists' Italian counterpart) - he's more like a Bossi or even (whisper it) a Berlusconi.