So Kate Bush makes a bid to be Theresa May's BFF and Twitter is alive with former fans renouncing her for being a Tory. It seems they preferred her mavericking to occur within strictly defined parameters. Run around the stage like a nutter? Yes. Have views which don’t sit with the usual left-leaning orthodoxies of the entertainment industry? You go sit in the Phil Collins corner. Fascist.
It’s interesting that the language used by newspapers kept referring back to Bush “outing” herself. Even that word – harking back to the dark ages when people’s sexuality was leaked to a disapproving public – suggests the extent to which the media also signs up to political presumptions of entertainers.
I’ve had my own experience of this “coming out” as a Conservative stand-up comedian. The main difference is I’m not at all famous and my comedy hasn’t spent several decades interwoven into the psyche of the nation. When I expressed my voting habits, no-one had formed a view of me which I could disappoint. I did run it by my “fan base” (Malcolm) and he was absolutely fine with it.
If Kate is worried – and I doubt such mortal things trouble her – I’m sure other entertainers will be similarly nonplussed. Comedians were very decent with me. Some were disappointed, but artists of any kind tend to prize ideas over ideology.
Previously unseen Kate Bush photos
Previously unseen Kate Bush photos
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Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
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A 1993 shot by Guido Harari of Kate Bush from the set of her film The Line, The Cross and the Curve
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Take in Riva del Garda in Italy in 1982 after a TV show
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Kate Bush is making a comeback with a series of gigs in 2014
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This shot was taken on the set of her film The Line, the Cross and the Curve
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It's me, Cathy. Kate Bush performing 'Wuthering Heights' for photographer Gered Mankowitz in 1978
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One of Gered Mankowitz's shots of Kate Bush for the US version of her debut album in 1978
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Kate Bush sitting at her piano
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Kate Bush in a dramatic shot by Harari Guido
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To coincide with the comeback concerts, an exhibition of previously unseen photographs of Kate Bush is going on show at Snap Galleries in London
Social media is slightly different – Twitter users aren’t big on “That’s disappointing but life goes on” as a reaction. More than one person declared that they would “burn all Kate Bush’s records”.
Well done to anyone who still owns enough vinyl to do that. For most people it would be “move to trash with the click of a button”. The automated sound of the rubbish bin would be far less dramatic than the acrid smell of burning LPs and the weird conversation you resultantly have with the fire brigade.
I’m not a Kate Bush fan, but I’m surprised at the extent to which people are surprised. She’d never really been one to toe the line – and is the line she’s supposedly crossed even that transgressive by the music industry’s standards?
Maybe the leftie liberal wing of Bush’s fan base can take consolation from the idea that maybe it is just an admiration for Theresa May herself that she holds, rather than a burning desire to become chairwoman of the 1922 committee.
A female prime minister opens up an ideological schism for many leftie feminists. It'd be hard to not have passing admiration for a premier who’s already called out her male colleagues for “mansplaining”. If May now came out and said she’s been changing her car oil to the sounds of Christine and the Queens, all the old certainties might disappear forever and Germaine Greer might release a book on needlework.
In that respect, the relationship of some feminists with May herself proves a point: it should be eminently possible to admire someone’s achievements without agreeing with them.
What is more surprising is the presumption – if Bush's admiration does translate to going full Tory – that these have always been her politics. What about the idea that people's political identities might be fluid over their lifetime?
Mine was. I voted Labour in 1997 and 2001, Lib Dem in 2005 and Tory since then. The journey has admittedly been moving steadily right, but who’s to say I won't lurch back towards socialism in old age? (Me, plus everything I’ve learned, plus reason, common sense and my mortgage.)
Kate Bush fans could take heart from the possibility she might have been left-wing when she wrote some of the soundtrack of their lives. Maybe she should come out and give a discography in which she underlines her political state of mind at each point.
Wuthering Heights – Marxist Feminist
Running Up That Hill – One Nation Tory with focus on high social mobility
The Dreaming – Lib Dem
The dilemma exists in the first place because of an age-old conceit in some quarters of the left which supposes a monopoly on virtue and compassion. When I appeared on the Today show talking about doing comedy as a right-winger, several interactions presumed that that all my jokes must involve “punching down”.
A bloke suggested my go-to humour must entail mocking the disabled, despite my show being in part about having two disabled parents. I did mock my folks mercilessly of course, but more for neuroses than anything neurological.
And if you’re still tearfully tearing down Kate Bush posters from your walls and scratching away at tattoos of her with a brillo pad, consider this: maybe Kate Bush is a dyed-in-the-wool Tory, maybe all Tories really are “evil” – but if you claim to love music, just remember who seemingly has all the best tunes.
Geoff Norcott will tour the UK with his show Conswervative from March to June 2017Reuse content