Spice racked

They have sold millions in Japan, where `Wannabe' probably means `I love squirrels'

Related Topics
Pop stars don't win elections. Billy Bragg failed to secure the youth vote for Kinnock and David Bowie's contribution to the triumph of Mrs Thatcher has not been thought worthy of a published thesis by Professor Anthony King of Essex University. Nor will the interview with the Spice Girls - as featured in this week's Spectator - do very much to save John Major. As was admitted recently by a Labour PR man, celebrity endorsement is important only in the sense that "you look sad if you don't have any."

For those unfamiliar with the pop scene, the Spice Girls are the latest in a long line of tame early teen idols, inheritors of the mantle of the Bay City Rollers, Bros and Take That. Their unique selling proposition is that they are feisty, in-your-face females. They have, of course, sold millions in Japan, where "Wannabe" (their latest hit) probably means "I love squirrels".

They are also brilliantly marketed as collectables. Each one has a different name and gimmick (Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Posh and Baby Spice). It can only be a matter of time before the manufacturers of Barbie or Sindy release all five at pounds 13.99 a shot and parents find themselves purchasing the set. Hardly will they have done this than the Spice Girls will split up and be replaced by John Thaw and Kevin Whateley singing cover versions of Elvis Presley.

So bloody what? Given all the above, what does it matter that these young women should embrace the cause of low taxation, the House of Lords, the monarchy, Europhobia and free love (a combination that, eerily, suggests an image of Mrs T romping topless on a Californian beach)? And it is hardly surprising that the Spectator, in its current right-wing anarchistic incarnation, should so approve of young women whose approach to life is materialistic, uncluttered by youthful principle and hedonistic. That is no reason for the rest of us to lose sleep.

Nor is their ignorance in any way unique. When Geri (Ginger Spice) argues against European integration on the basis that "Britain was the first to break away from the Roman Empire"(Yippee, here come the Dark Ages!), at least she knows that the islands were once under the sway of Rome. I wouldn't swear that Kiki Dee knows as much. When Geri goes on to assert that "we travel through Europe and all those countries look the same. Only England looks different," we can afford to smile, knowing that a quick visit to Siena followed by a trip to Heligoland ought to sort that one out. The simultaneous belief in the hereditary principle ("earls and dukes are good for tourism") and pure meritocracy suggests an unformed quality in the Girls' thinking.

And yet I hate this interview and I hate them for giving it and I hate their interviewer - Simon Sebag Montefiore - for enjoying it so much. The one line which sums it up for me is this: "Labour does things for everyone, which might create laziness." This is the pure doctrine of welfare dependency, which I am prepared to accept from those who believe in decent state-funded education, a minimum wage and assistance to return to work (ie those who have an alternative to dependency other than immiseration), but not from those whose sole criticism of Blair is that they do not like his tax policies.

Well, drawls my pal from the letters section, what's the big deal? They have absorbed the orthodox drivel of the pure market much as you and I (a large hand drops sympathetically on my shoulder) absorbed all that Fabian drivel about redistribution and demand-led economies. Chill out.

Ah yes, I think, but our drivel was better than their drivel. Our drivel was about the need to improve life for people, about moral responsibility, about no man being an island. It was only as we got older that we discovered that it was difficult to do. But their drivel means that they don't want to do it at all, even if it was easy! They don't start idealistic and become realistic; they start cynical and will become monstrous.

Up pops another friend. The polls tell us (should we care to listen) that among no section of the population is Labour's lead as great as among 18-24-year-old women. The Spice Girls are out of tune. Maybe. But there's something in this Tamara Beckwith, have-it-all, tolerant but apathetic, supremely individualistic culture which suggests that (as Cyndi Lauper didn't sing) girls just wanna be shits.

React Now

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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine