WATCH: Labour’s Brit Awards tragedy
There was a time, kids, when politicians thought it was a good idea to associate with pop stars. It's a terrible story, beginning before the members of One Direction had even been born, of hubris, arrogance and catastrophe. If you ever wondered why you don't see David Cameron or Ed Miliband showing up to present awards these days… this is why.
ACT 1: TENTATIVE EXPLORATION INTO THE WORLD OF POP
It doesn't get any cooler, in 1985, than the BPI Awards presented by a yuckily bearded Noel Edmonds. This TV monstrosity, introducing the leader of the opposition Neil Kinnock, observes cryptically: "If he gave up his current line of work, there'd be room for him in this industry." Then on comes Kinnock, looking chirpy and dressed to the nines in a thoroughly un-left-wing dinner jacket. But he doesn't let Margaret Thatcher's government get away with it. Questioned by Edmonds on the importance of the music industry, Kinnock comments: "It may be the last British industry with vitality, I hope it isn't."
Once the politics is dispensed with, Kinnock has no choice but to read out the names of the top three videos, as chosen by Top Of The Pops. This is worth watching alone for the desperate stumbling agony of him tripping up while reading out: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." It's probably what lost him the '92 election.
ACT 2: BELIEVE IT OR NOT, TONY BLAIR IS GENUINELY POPULAR
It's 1996. Chris Evans is dishevelled and still cool. He introduces the "foot-tapping, pop-loving, he's got nice hair Tony Blair!" And another Labour leader saunters on to a hip soundtrack, this one heading towards a massive landslide within 12 months.
Blair is the same old Blair we all know. But he hasn't invaded Iraq yet, so everyone likes him. He uses the word "vitality", just like Kinnock did. He describes David Bowie, of all people, as a man "not afraid to go up the hill backwards". And all without a script. He's going to go far, this one.
ACT 3: IT ALL GOES TERRIBLY WRONG
Jump forward two years to 1998. Blair is in Downing Street and even rock stars like Noel Gallagher are queuing up to be part of the party. Which is presumably why deputy PM John Prescott thinks going to the Brit Awards is an OK thing to do.
You could see what was coming in agitprop act Chumbawumba's performance of their hit Tubthumping. Their lead singer ('shouter' is a better word) Boff Whalley deviates from the script to incorporate some anti-government hostility into things. "New Labour sold out the dockers," he booms, "just like they'll sell out the rest of us!"
All of a sudden, the great British public realise that New Labour might not be everything they're cracked up to be. And then comes this:
— Sadia Ben Gooner (@TheGoonerette) February 20, 2013
Yes, it's that classic protest: pouring a bucket of icy water over a politician. Prescott, soggy and humiliated, beats a hasty retreat. The time has come, Labour realises, to leave pop music to the cool kids.