I'm not proud of this, but at the back of my mind I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm mostly left-wing-ish because anything else is just so achingly uncool. The combination of my stupid name and my dress sense led someone to assume I was a Tory a couple of years ago, and I went clothes shopping at the next available opportunity. (I probably should have changed my name by deed poll, too.) It's not that I instinctively dislike people on the right, or have a considered view on the problems with their philosophy. It's just that I can't stand their taste in music, or in books, or in movies, and I barely ever think their jokes are funny. This, I have always assumed, is a decent enough analogue for their political wisdom.
The surprising result of this terrible failing in my character is that I find myself in deep sympathy with Newt Gingrich, who has been forced to stop playing the Rocky theme tune at his campaign events after the song's writer found out what he was up to and withdrew his permission. Poor Newt! Poor Republicans! It's just so embarrassing. "Eye of the Tiger" isn't remotely cool, and even the man who wrote it couldn't bear to be associated with you. Is it your fault you have hair like a silver helmet? No! It is your barber's fault. But you probably couldn't get a haircut at the cool barber's, because he was worried you'd destroy his street cred too.
There are myriad examples of this over the years. If I were a right-wing American, I would have particularly spit blood in the heyday of the West Wing, a sentimentalised version of life in the White House that made it very hard to believe progressives could ever do anything for ignoble reasons, or conservatives for honourable ones. It's one of those ingrained political rules now, as solid and immutable as the one that says that anyone who warns that they will leave the country if party X gets into power is probably someone we'd all rather get rid of anyway. (Step forward, Phil Collins!)
Sooner or later, there aren't going to be any songs left that furious rockers haven't denied the right of access to, and Conservatives will be forced to step on stage to synth panpipe re-imaginings of U2's "Beautiful Day" – or, worse, a live rendition of something by Genesis. In the meantime, I suppose, they will just have to console themselves with the fact these musicians are only worth a couple of million. The billionaires might not be all that hip. But we all know whose side they're on. Losing a culture war is an embarrassment; winning a financial war, on the other hand, is a considerably more effective way of tightening your grip on the levers of power.Reuse content