Wednesday, 19 May 2010

natural sELECTION

So, after a damp squib of a general election where the Conservatives failed to convincingly rout a mortally wounded Gordon Brown, who slowly capitulated in a series of gaffs and outrageous forced smiles on televised debates (the sort that made young children hide behind the sofa the length of the country), Nick Clegg has jumped into be bed with David Cameron to form the first coalition government in the UK since the 30's. Conservatives and Liberals working together? It'’s a bit like a vicar marrying a stripper, or Lembit Opik marrying a Cheeky Girl. I know opposites attract, but one party stands for conservation and the other for progression, it'’s grounds for divorce. Does it spell Con-Dem-nation for the, er, nation?

Well, providing this unholy alliance can hold together, we should expect to see much of the Conservatives election manifesto come to fruition, with some of the sharper edges filed off by the inclusion of a few Liberal Democrat policies. This is probably good news for staunch Labour supporters to whom the only worse thing than marrying David Cameron would be having him as undisputed Prime minister of the country. Still they’'ve had their way for some time now and perhaps there is room for a bit of change even if there isn’'t a genuine appetite for it amongst voters.

Most excitingly, Cameron has wasted no time telling us about the end of ‘Big Government’. Those of you worried that during the Blair/Brown years Britain was transformed from a leafy community of meadows and hamlets into a super-city concrete dystopia where every citizens actions are recorded by CCTV and poured over by power lusty public service officials with nothing better to do, can breath a sigh of relief. ID cards are out. The draconian DNA database looks like being curbed too. So it should be easier to repeat offend and to pretend you are someone else for the next five years, something Nick Clegg will probably need to do a lot of.

A sensible review of defence spending looks likely, stopping short of canning Trident (apparently a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile threat is enough to make disgruntled religious zealots from Bradford think twice before blowing themselves up in public), but curbing Prince Harry’s use of Chinook Helicopters to beat bank holiday traffic. The Liberal Democrats were the only major party to oppose the Iraq war, and with a bit of luck their presence in the cabinet is likely to mean fewer wars of freedom on brown people with oil. But William Hague, our new foreign secretary has made it clear that he’ll still be chatting up the Americans for special treatment in return for ‘'Solid, not slavish'’ support of their unilateral whims. He is also the cabinet minister most likely to start sleeping with a Clinton.

A large amount of the promised spending cuts, starting with £6bn this year, will probably come from the public sector. Cameron would say that means good-bye to the pen pushers and key tappers in the annals of New Labours stealth-socialist behemoth. More likely they'’ll just cut benefits for those who able to work. It'’ll be branded as tough love and helping people to ‘realise their aspirations’, but it’'ll probably mean minimum wage Mc-jobs to realise the aspirations of multi-national corporations, a spiritually thwarted working class and an increase in crime. Anyone still remember that Thatcher bird? If the Liberals are lucky they might be able to leverage an increase in the low-income tax threshold so the poor can afford to continue anaesthetising themselves through binge drinking and satellite television. Pensions for public sector workers are under threat too, and the default retirement age may be scrapped, but by the time we notice we’ll all be too old to kick George Osbournes’ butt.

Talking of butts, Cameron once said his favourite joke was Nick Clegg, now he'’s sitting next to him in the cabinet. That’s hilarious, but the real butt of this cabinet are the women and ethnic minorities that aren'’t in there. A junior Home Office minister has already spoken out to criticise the largely '‘male and pale'’ cabinet. Planned tightening of immigration regulation from outside the EU is likely to be about as popular as Gordon Brown’'s microphone technician, coming from them. Oh, and in the next five years your local Tesco Metro will be no more likely to accept the Euro as tender as it is the labour of political refugees from war-torn countries destroyed by British colonialism in the nineteenth century. Nick tried but Cameron wouldn’t budge on Europe.

Or nuclear power stations. Get used to the idea, if you want to heat your house without relying on Russian natural gas. However he did agree to a referendum on political change, which could allow the Liberal Democrats to convert their vote share into a greater number of seats in parliament, or it could be the sticking point in the marriage with the Tories. Perhaps the increased tax breaks for married couples will help them stay together for the sake of the kids.

Interview for Perfect Sound

An interview I just did for Perfect Sound fanzine:

Perfect Sound: first, how did you start getting into music?

Olly the Octopus: well when I was about 15 I decided that far from being the corny instrument that my dad played Eagles songs on, the guitar was in fact ├╝ber cool and that I simply must be good at it... Although I was loathe to admit it at the time I think I thought it was going to get me girls

Magazine: Most of your songs are very political. How did you start getting into politics?

Olly the Octopus: Politics just creep up on you, you think they dont matter but they sort of do. It can be a major bore because it's all about pragmatics and keeping most of the people happy most of the time, but I've always liked to write music about the experience of being a human being on planet earth and politics is one dimension of that... Olly the Octopus started out as a side project for my ranty vaguely political stuff ( I save the love songs for my bands) and it just sort of ran away on its own trajectory, the octopus that is...

Perfect Sound: How did you come up with the name olly the octopus?

Olly the Octopus: Alliteration, pure and simple, and I have the same hair-style.

Perfect Sound: Are there any musicians you admire, not just because of their music, but for what they believe in?

Olly the Octopus:Yes, I admire people who have strong beliefs in general, it's a curious mixture of pity and admiration actually, mainly because I generally find it very difficult to hold strong beliefs and convictions myself and I sort of look down on it as naive but also secretly wish I could be as righteous as Martin Luther king or as strident as Billy Bragg... trouble is I'm too much of a piss ant, but I think that makes me good at seeing the bigger picture and calling things as they are from a twisted morbidly detatched view point that people seem to find amusing

Perfect Sound: You released a single last Christmas in aid of the Palestinians. How does not just your music, but music in general, help support causes like these?

Olly the Octopus: Well look at all the Free Tibet benefits, Live 8, Kosovo compilations, some great things have been achieved raising the profile of some tough humanitarian struggles. Have they changed the world? well we still have nuclear weapons, war and famine so perhaps not. But I think it's important to try, if you make clothes you send a dress, if your a musician, you do a charity single... Bono pisses me off though

Perfect Sound: With the general election coming up, do you think music can play some part in the upcoming election?

Olly the Octopus: I'm planning a mass hypnosis song on channel 4 for election day, i'll brainwash the nation into voting green

Perfect Sound: Can you please tell me about the Boris Johnson moment? What made you decide to sing right in the middle of one of his speeches?

Olly the Octopus: Well he decided to cut loads of public transport spending that day... and I always thought he was a poor candidate. I love him, I'd love to have him over for dinner, he's funny, but Ken was the hero of the town, and Boris just sort of rode a wave of charming Bush-esque gaffs into power. I wouldn't have Ken for dinner though, he'd bore the hell out of me and Boris as we played drinking games

Perfect Sound:Finally, what’s the future for Olly the Octopus?

Olly the Octopus:well, that would be telling... I rely on the element of surprise!