Desert Island Discs: A chance for public to see into political leaders souls


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The Independent Culture

Forget policy proposals, it is the choices made by political leaders on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that really give the public a chance to see into both their souls and their desire to be seen as accessible.

There were few surprises in Ed Miliband’s line-up, with many of the Labour chief’s choices coming from a familiar political jukebox. Paul Robeson’s “Joe Hill” was among the choices of both SNP leader Alex Salmond and ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone. And African national anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” has been in the top eight of several Labour politicians including Diane Abbott, Glenys Kinnock and Clare Short. In “Jerusalem” by Sir Hubert Parry he gave a nod to classical music, patriotism, and Gordon Brown (who had also picked it). There was, however, no sign of Edward Elgar – a favourite of leaders of all hues, including John Major, Edward Heath and Paddy Ashdown.

No politician had previously admitted to wanting to bring “Take On Me” by A-ha to the island, nor had any MPs gone for “Angels” by Robbie Williams - which was, however, picked by both Chris Tarrant and Colin Montgomerie.