Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Songs Sung Blue; Roll over, Beethoven: The Tories Are Rocking. Tara Hamilton-Miller Reveals Who's into Led Zep and Who Won a Shakin' Stevens Dance Contest

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Songs Sung Blue; Roll over, Beethoven: The Tories Are Rocking. Tara Hamilton-Miller Reveals Who's into Led Zep and Who Won a Shakin' Stevens Dance Contest

Article excerpt

Who are the Tories really listening to? By now it is well known that a new breed of cross-party young bucks grew up to the strains of Paul Weller. But, more interestingly, it's the MPs who grew up in the Seventies, rather than the Eighties, who appear to have misspent their youth.

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The undisputed king of Tory pop culture has to be John Whittingdale (Margaret Thatcher's political researcher, and a former shadow culture secretary). He even subscribes to Heat magazine. During his earlier years working in the Conservative Research Department, he used to go pogoing to the Angelic Upstarts at the Lyceum with Matthew Parris. And just this past week, Whitto has been out with Feargal Sharkey, who was lead singer in the Undertones.

"Sharkey and I go way back," he says. "The first time I met him was at the Marquee Club. He was on stage and covered in a sea of saliva."

Whitto has never missed a Brit Awards." I was there for all the best bits--Chumbawamba soaking Prescott, Sam Fox, Jarvis. I talked to Debbie Harry, who I had been in love with for years."

In 2004 he was the only MP not to complain about Eric Prydz's naughty leotard pop video for "Call On Me", telling a BBC journalist that he wanted to watch it again. "How many of the so-called Jam generation actually saw them in concert?" he says. "I did."

A shadow minister who wishes to remain anonymous is rattled by claims that William Hague is meant to be a Meat Loaf fan. "I'm not convinced of William's devotion to Meaty. To be a proper fan you have to have seen him half a dozen times." Over to you, William.

The pop tastes of Michael Gove, the shadow education secretary, lie firmly with his Scottish roots. He reels off Simple Minds, Big Country and Blue Nile as his pop favourites, though he adds: "It's a Tory cliche, but I adore Wagner. …

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