My general election playlist


POLITICIANS of all shades are busy drawing up their playlists of music to stir them up for the final hours of election day campaigning.

Often they make the mistake of picking popular tunes with a title or lyric that matches their beliefs – such as Revolution by The Beatles or David Bowie’s Changes.

So I’ve drawn up a playlist of REAL music that will definitely “pump you up”, as David Cameron might say. Or “hell, yes,” if your name is Ed. And each piece I have chosen has a political twist.

First up is Glinka’s popular overture Russlan and Ludmilla – the lively opening of which was used by the Liberal Democrats in a party election broadcast during Paddy Ashdown’s leadership.

Next comes the stirring slow theme from the last movement of Brahms’s first symphony. This was borrowed by Labour to fire up Neil Kinnock’s campaign in the 1980s. Sadly for him, it didn’t strike a chord with the voters. And worse, he had it playing on his in-car hi-fi when he was involved in a crash.

We follow that with a double delight from two of England’s greatest composers. Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the orchestra, which uses a theme by Henry Purcell. Michael Howard adopted this as his election tune when he took on the might of Tony Blair, but it didn’t do the trick for him. Bit of a theme developing here, I fear. But all still good stirring music, so don’t give up.

Never have politicians interfered in the genius of composers more than in Soviet Russia. It is a miracle that Shostakovich managed to produce such brilliant works while being persecuted by Stalin. The Gadfly is marvellous collection of shorter pieces written as film music and will really get you in the mood – whether you’re a hard-line Red or, like the maestro, an opponent.

Perhaps the most powerful political work of all is Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. It is about freedom. The opera tells how Leonora, disguised as a prison guard named “Fidelio“, rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison. Beethoven wrote four overtures to this masterpiece. My favourite is Leonora No 3.

North of the border, Scottish voters may enjoy a little bit of nationalist music before they decide…and there’s none better than the overture Land of Mountain and Flood by Hamish MacCunn.

Over to Wales, I’ve opted for the land of song’s well-known composer Ivor Novello, who’s real name was David Davies! He ventured from popular music to write a lovely serious piece called…Rose of England.

Finally, there was no greater socialist on the British music scene than Ralph Vaughan Williams, who showed today’s politicians of the same colour a thing or two by turning down a knighthood. Thank you for your wonderful music plain old Mr Vaughan Williams. Here’s part of his quintessentially English sixth symphony.

Have a good campaign, whoever you support. Use these wonderful sounds to stir your passions but please keep politics out of our music!

One comment on “My general election playlist

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