Leading article: Tone deaf

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The Independent Online

It should be obvious by now that politicians and popular musicians make for a combination about as stable as Amy Winehouse's beehive on a heavy night out. Yet it seems there is nothing that will stop those who crave our votes trying to appropriate pop music, or its exponents, to add some glamour to their campaigns, or to sprinkle a little stardust on themselves.

Think it can work to a politician's advantage? Consider the recent evidence. The Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, has been reprimanded by John Mellencamp for playing the musician's songs at his rallies.

Here in Britain, Paul Weller has scorned the professed love of the Conservative leader David Cameron for his song "Eton Rifles", saying "it wasn't intended as a fucking jolly drinking song for the cadet corps". Don't expect to see a Jam reunion performance at the next Conservative Party conference.

Gordon Brown made himself look silly by giving the impression that he was fond of listening to the Arctic Monkeys. Tony Blair's penchant for holidaying with Sir Cliff Richard and dining with the likes of Geri Halliwell caused untold grief for the former prime minister.

Going further back, hosting Elvis at the White House didn't save President Richard Nixon. John Lennon sent back his MBE conferred by Harold Wilson. Lennon's band-mate George Harrison even attacked the former Labour leader in a song about excessive taxation.

"The public gets what the public wants," Mr Weller once sang. But not, it seems, when their political leaders persist in trying to mix politics with pop.