Editor-At-Large: Oh no, it's Bono and co

Share
Related Topics

Exactly five days after the first single from the new U2 album was sent to radio stations, Bono stood up at the Labour Party conference and made an impassioned plea for the world's poor. There were three players in this game - the poverty-stricken people of Africa, 6,000 of whom die each day of diseases that are curable and easily preventable; Tony Blair, our embattled leader, who faced a hostile reception from delegates incensed by his position on Iraq; and finally, a multimillionaire pop star with a giant ego and a new record to promote. On paper, a win-win situation for all concerned. Looking back at the week, you'd have to say Bono achieved the number one slot in terms of column inches and praise. (He is also, coincidentally, on the cover of Q magazine this month and will be attending its annual awards tomorrow.)

Exactly five days after the first single from the new U2 album was sent to radio stations, Bono stood up at the Labour Party conference and made an impassioned plea for the world's poor. There were three players in this game - the poverty-stricken people of Africa, 6,000 of whom die each day of diseases that are curable and easily preventable; Tony Blair, our embattled leader, who faced a hostile reception from delegates incensed by his position on Iraq; and finally, a multimillionaire pop star with a giant ego and a new record to promote. On paper, a win-win situation for all concerned. Looking back at the week, you'd have to say Bono achieved the number one slot in terms of column inches and praise. (He is also, coincidentally, on the cover of Q magazine this month and will be attending its annual awards tomorrow.)

Post-Brighton he has reinforced his image as a caring, intelligent pop saint, and at the same time cleverly placed his brand in front of millions of potential purchasers at an extremely opportune time. For Tony and Gordon it was a dream booking, following on from such previous conference stars as Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela. They would have been thrilled beyond belief to be referred to in the same breath as their icons Lennon and McCartney. Never mind the fact that the BBC had broadcast a documentary a few days earlier showing how loads of luvvies from Harry Enfield to Lady Antonia Fraser were turning on Tony. Now New Labour has the world's biggest rock star as its new best friend, as Bono told the party faithful that he was "fond" of the two men, claiming they were the John and Paul of the global development movement worldwide. He then trowelled on the blarney, referring to the Labour Party as "tough", and sprinkled his chat with plenty of words like "bollocks" and "horseshit" so that everyone listening felt rebellious and youthful again. It was like going to Glastonbury without the mud, the tents and the ghastly music!

Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that Bono is utterly sincere in his crusade to raise money to end world poverty. I entirely support him. But why is it so important to politicians that two causes no intelligent person would disagree with - ending world debt and preventable death - are championed by a pop singer? Why give up valuable time at the annual party conference (and all the attendant media coverage) to someone who is saying what we all agree with anyway? The fact is, it's all gorgeously groovy, modern and showbiz. It's like listening to a sermon without the naff presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his fashion-free facial hair.

Since Live Aid, pop stars have felt it a moral duty to be spokesmen for the under-privileged and needy. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are blessed with the ability to cut through the crap and get us to act in all sorts of charitable ways. Princess Diana, a quasi pop star if ever there was one, fell into the same category. All over the world, day in and day out, devoted people are working tirelessly to tend to the sick, the poor and the dying, out of the headlines, anonymously and certainly out of the pop charts. Musicians feel that if they speak, politicians and voters will listen. Because music crosses frontiers, the people who create it believe (erroneously) that they are above politics, which they tend to see as pathetic and cynical. Bono may have bigged up Tony and Gordon in Brighton last week, but deep down most pop stars secretly think politicians are low-rent characters who can't get real jobs. Pop stars with giant egos believe they can effect social change in a way that MPs (who are democratically elected, by the way) will never be able to.

And to watch Gordon and Tony simpering in the background while Bono held the stage was nauseating in the extreme. Two highly intelligent, driven males reduced to tapioca by another middle-aged bloke in a silly pair of wrap-around sunglasses. Even tough man Blunkett morphed into a jelly baby, telling someone that Bono "had an ability to communicate which matches many in the Cabinet".

The ending of world debt is in the hands of elected politicians, which is why P Diddy is right when he tells people to get out there and vote. Placing a cross on a ballot paper is a more powerful act than buying a rock album.

So Tony and Cherie have opted for a Georgi-an mansion in central London, with well-proportioned windows facing on to a perfectly tended square. A revealing choice, and not unexpected.

What's so appealing about an architectural style created 300 years ago for the wealthy, when there were no bathrooms, servants lived below stairs and sewage was chucked in the street?

I'd never live in a Georgian house: Georgian is for wimps - it's calming, archaic, estranged from the modern world. The life most of us live today has nothing in common with that of an 18th-century merchant or lawyer. I don't imagine Cherie plans to play the harpsichord or Tony don a powdered wig. But Georgian architecture has a huge number of fans from Madonna downwards willing to pay through the nose to live in Grade I-listed splendour.

I can't imagine Stella McCartney wearing Dickensian clothes, and yet Lord Rogers, Ken's architectural adviser for London, is happy to live in two large Georgian houses knocked together in a Chelsea square. How weird is that? At least Lord Foster resides at the top of a block of flats he designed in Battersea. If Tony really wants to get his message about a new Britain across, I think he should have commissioned a modern house. But perhaps he finds the truly new as unpalatable as his old left-wing politics.

Cloaca apparently means sewer. It's not a nice word to write and it certainly isn't a gorgeous word to say. The trouble with Cloaca, the new play directed by Kevin Spacey which opened at the Old Vic last week, is that it tells us a lot more about the inner turmoil of Mr Spacey than anything else. Ostensibly the drama explores the relationship between four fortysomething men, one of whom is facing the sack because he has stolen valuable works of art, while another expects political promotion but has walked out on his wife. A third is a coke fiend who's having a breakdown and the fourth is a randy theatre director who's getting increasingly desperate.

The acting is absolutely first rate. Hugh Bonneville, Adrian Lukis, Neil Pearson and Stephen Tompkinson work their socks off to try to inject life into a script that is leaden, irrelevant and just plain facile. Only someone as arrogant as Kevin Spacey would imagine that a Dutch writer's take on masculinity would play well in London. The translation is lumpen and the characters one-dimensional. It's about as revealing as a third-division sit-com on ITV. I'm fascinated that Mr Spacey thought this told us anything about masculinity and male bonding.

If he thinks this is ground-breaking drama, he's having a mid-life crisis. I think he's on safer ground offering us Sir Ian McKellen in panto next.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect