The ultimate general election 2010 playlist

What could be more important, as the general election campaign intensifies, than discovering the aural pleasures of those who seek to represent us?

By Alex Stevenson has been sifting through responses to a questionnaire we sent out to prospective parliamentary candidates.

We asked wannbe MPs: what’s your favourite political song? Their answers were as varied as the people giving them. Here’s our pick of the best.

Ideological songs

The Beatles – Revolution

Joe Goldberg, who is standing in Witney for Labour, would need a revolution if he was to unseat Conservative party leader David Cameron:

“It’s about democratic socialism and the futility of Trotskyism in my mind – it makes me smile and for anyone who ever cut their teeth in student politics, it instantly brings to mind the impossible dogma of the hard left. Our politics is nothing unless we are able to do something about them – and I can’t stand it when dogma gets in the way of progress – and I think this song speaks to it well.”

Billy Bragg – Sexuality

South-east Cambridgeshire’s John Cowan remembers this classic from a fellow left-wing activist:

“It reminds of the battle that left had to abolish Section 28 – a nasty piece of homophobic Tory legislation that the German Nazi party would have been proud of.”

The Jarrow Song

An unusual one from South Shiekds’ Karen Allen, the Conservative candidate taking on David Miliband:

Coming from South Tyneside I think it has to be the ‘Jarrow Song’. It’s a song about the Hunger Strikes and the Jarrow March in the Great Depression. Little Alan Price has to go to “London Town” for a “couple of bob and a decent job”.

You Ain’t Done Nothing If You Ain’t Been Called A Red

Cath Arakelian, taking on Iain Duncan Smith for Labour in Chingford and Wood Green, explains all:

“This is an activist song from the United States which is about a girl growing up and finding that whenever she does anything active, people accuse her of being a Red! That’s a really brilliant song because it shows that, unless people start to squeal, you haven’t had an effect.”

Reg Meuross – And Jesus Wept

The Liberal Democrats’ Jackie Radford, standing in Ogmore, explains her passion for a song by folk singer/songwriter Reg Meuross.

“It’s about a young man called Private Harry Farr who was executed for desertion in WW1. Harry and more than 300 of his comrades who were shot by firing squad were given posthumous pardons in 2006.”

Pulp – Common People

Labour’s South West Surrey candidate Richard Mollet gives his take on the 90s classic:

“Whilst not political in the traditional sense, it nails on the head the condescension and complete ignorance some wealthier people can have for how the majority of people live.”

Other picks…

Del Amitri – Nothing Ever Happens. Bruce Roberts, standing for the Lib Dems in Clwyd South, calls it “a warning against complacency in fighting prejudice and injustice”.

Robert Burns – A Man’s A Man’s For A’That. This, to Galen Milne of Banff and Buchan, is a “profoundly political statement put to music”.

Elvis Costello – Shipbuilding. This is “ambiguous rather than obvious”, Lib Dem Ian Garrett of West Bromwich East explains, but it “poignantly reflects the impact of war and conflict”.

Songs from abroad

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A’Changin’

Norwich South’s Conservative candidate Antony Little explains his reasons for backing this Dylan classic:

“I recently saw a video of Dylan performing it in front of President Obama at the White House during an event celebrating music from the American civil rights movement. It was really poignant. I felt the occasion showed how far the US has come since the song was penned.”

Motley Crue – Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Here’s another track with a link to the White House, this one coming from the Lib Dems’ Matthew Harris from Hendon:

“It was Clinton’s campaign song when he won the presidency in 1992. It motivates me and sends a shiver down my spine.”

Peter Gabriel – Biko

Denzil Coulson, another Lib Dem who’s standing in North East Hampshire, explains the international roots of this song:

“He sang about a freedom fighter, Steve Biko, who lived and fought for democracy very close to the farm I lived on in the Eastern Cape of South Africa when I was a child in the early 1980s.”

Other picks…

Free Nelson Mandela. Labour’s Brighton Kemptown candidate Simon Burgess calls this a “good song with a powerful message, which takes me back to my anti-apartheid campaigning days”.

Bob Dylan – The Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll. Harlow’s Conservative PPC Robert Halfon is in no doubt about his choice, which is “about a wealthy, spoilt man who kills a black chambermaid and is let off by the courts”.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Hull East’s Liberal candidate Jeremy Wilcock says this is a “wonderful tune, noble words and an inspiration to the oppressed”.

Party political songs

D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better

This song, more than any other, still gets Labour campaigners going after all these years. But there are divided opinions about its pulling power.

“Though it is not strictly a political song, I love the fact it can still fill the dance floor at any Labour party event!” one unnamed candidate wrote. But Darren Jones, Labour’s candidate for Torridge and West Devon, said: “Whilst I’d still sing along in my car with a smile, I think it’s a bit too cheesy now.” It’s always been cheesy, Darren.

M People – Moving On Up

An odd choice from a Conservative, perhaps, but Janice Small of Batley and Spen has plumped for it nonetheless:

“It’s not political but the words from M People’s Moving on Up resonates, even though they’re supposed to be Labour,” she writes.

Losing Deposits

The Liberal Democrats’ candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith, a real three-way marginal, says:

“There is a very amusing song called ‘Losing Deposits’ which many other Liberal Democrats will know from the Glee Club at our party conference. In many ways, it reminds me of just how far my party has come over the last 30 years.

Coldplay – Yellow

Lincoln’s Lib Dem PPC Reginald Shore goes for a painfully partisan choice:

“Chris Martin says he wrote this with the Yellow Pages in mind but as he’s a Lib Dem supporter, I suspect it’s really about the party colours. sorry Chris! I enjoy performing and was part of a folk group for a time – most of our songs had a political edge and I relished the passion in this aspect of performance.”

A few more…

And finally, here’s a round-up of some of the other tracks which PPCs mentioned.

Del Amitri – Nothing Ever Happens
Neville Brothers – God On Our side
John L. Bell and Graham Maude – Jesus Christ Is Waiting In The Streets
Beatles – Yellow Submarine
Bob Dylan – Masters of War
Billy Bragg – Between The Wars
Bella Ciao (old Italian partisan folk song)
Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Tom Lehrer – My Home Town
Monty Python – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Ralph McTell – From Clare to Here
Paul Weller – Money Go Round
Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life
Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK
Alice Cooper – Elected
Bob Marley – Redemption Song
Billy Bragg – Rotting on Remand
The Marseillaise
Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes – Wake Up Everybody
Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Tower Of Power – Only So Much Oil In The Ground
Ian Brown – Illegal Attacks

And one more…

Heaven 17 – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang