I watched a documentary about The Proclaimers over the New Year. I take an interest in musicians and how they achieve success in the creative field. I’m not over-judgemental and try to find aspects to admire even if I don’t like the final product. Hence I can appreciate the clever construction of a song or piece of music which is not to my taste at all. I exclude the tuneless Bananarama from this. For those of you who do not know, The Proclaimers are a couple of identical Scottish twins who burst onto the scene with great energy (a must-have in my book) in the late 80s with their anthemic song “I’m gonna be”, which most will know better as “500 miles”. They arrived as something different in the music landscape, heavily influenced by punk, folk music and the musical political activism of Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”.) They made a deliberate decision to sing in their broad Leith accents. In the documentary they came across as intelligent, articulate and rather dour, by no means an unwelcome attribute in these days of emotional incontinence. Talking heads were wheeled out to show that the band generated a strong Scottish fan base, not least by openly espousing the cause of Scottish independence. Krankie described how they had radicalised her and many of her generation. As we know, their intervention was not decisive on the 55:45 vote which, much like Brexit, apparently remains open to “interpretation”. Nevertheless, the twins produced a pivotal song called “Cap in Hand”. Here is the chorus:
But I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land
We’re cap in hand.
It will be apparent to you how easily those words could be transferred to the Brexit argument, but it is a concept that Remainers simply refuse to address. So, leaving aside the documentary for a moment, let’s turn to the perplexing issue of why we have no English equivalent of The Proclaimers. Can we all agree that, indeed, no one sings for the English? No one with any exposure, support or success, anyway. We are all well acquainted on this site with the manner in which Englishness and culture have had the life squeezed out of them, leaving the field wide open to wretched fifth-raters like Billy Bragg, whose claims to sing for us end up as the same old left-wing miserableism. A few Morris dancing sides do not a culture make, and even they are subject to the tyranny of revisionism. Last Night of the Proms? Check the images. It’s a background of Union flags, not St George’s. A catalogue of wistful or angry songs harking back to a homogeneous culture that once existed well within my lifetime is, frankly, impossible. It wouldn’t be acceptable to anyone in the industry, to the media, or even the police. Rent-a-mob would disrupt any attempt a la Katie Hopkins in Lewes. The BBC simply denies the existence of this homogeneity at any stage of our island history, which it is busy re-writing. It’s heart-breaking. And yet it is for just this kind of music for which The Proclaimers are idolised. I haven’t got a problem with that, or Welsh-speaking, or religious identity assertion in Northern Ireland. It’s not as though political music is ever particularly successful or popular in England. Only the BBC supports Billy Bragg and there is an extensive Christian rock music movement here in the UK which gains no wider traction at all. Cliff Richard’s ventures were deemed cringeworthy by most. Our native English folk music is all about the struggle of downtrodden agricultural or factory workers against the landlords/employers. There are laments for a lost pastoral landscape, but it was never a paradise for the little man. English folk music remains the preserve of earnest beardies who would run a mile from any material deemed populist or racist.
The English have a habit of vaguely conjuring up some mystical leader from the past, such as Arthur, who will one day re-appear and sort this country out. We don’t have a short fuse when it comes to dissent, but the response to the recent referendum shows that our preferred way of calm, silent assertion cannot be relied upon to produce the goods and is arguably unfit for purpose. It boils my enzymes to hear politicians chant the word “change” as a knock-down political argument when they are the least likely to provide it in a way that alters your life for the better, or even to possess the slightest interest in trying to provide it. They don’t want change for you at all. They want to remain firmly in charge with you to give them the green light every now and again through the ballot box to bring about the one change they all do seem agreed on, that of irrevocably diluting the homogeneity of England willy nilly. Even with the wisdom available on this site I still don’t understand what their game is, why they are so united in their goal. It is difficult enough finding a spokesman who will articulate any of this in a way that overcomes the massive opposition to doing so. Even Nigel has to skirt round issues.
We need a singer. If only Tommy Robinson could sing – he’d at least have the bottle to try.
Who will sing for England?
© Bassman 2018