Interview: Jonny & The Baptists talk UKIP, the general election and political songs
- Brian Donaldson
- 19 March 2015
We chat to the musical comedy act ahead of their Rock the Vote tour
Ahead of their Rock the Vote show, the musical comedy pair talked to our Comedy Editor Brian Donaldson about all things British politics, from voting to the general election.
What was the first general election you remember and what sticks most in your mind about it?
Jonny: The first of May 1997, when Tony Blair led Labour to a landslide victory. I stayed up watching it with my mum and she was so pleased she let me have the next day off school. We even watched him the next day greeting people outside Number Ten like he was a rock star. Funny to remember him then and see him now as a slightly crazy warmonger with a penchant for making vast swathes of cash.
Paddy: I remember exactly the same day and the same joy sweeping throughout my house. I was only 6 at the time, and my most vivid memory of the occasion was dad making some kind of novelty flag with a slogan on it like ‘Major Malfunction: Grin and Blair it’, which I almost immediately got tangled in and fell down some stairs. Dad got in lots of trouble for making yet another dangerous novelty flag.
Is ‘UKIP Calypso’ the worst political song ever written and performed? If not, what is? And, conversely, what's the best ever political song?
P: We can’t agree on the worst political song as there are so many duds out there, but the Hank Williams Jr song ‘The McCain-Palin Tradition’ is definitely a contender. I mean it is so, so awful. I want to say ‘If you haven’t heard it, go and listen to it now’, but I don’t think we could do that to you in good conscience.
J: Also it’s really long.
P: REALLY long. It gets longer every time you listen to it.
J: Substantially longer. It’s already four and half minutes too long.
P: In terms of the best political song it just has to be ‘Farewell to Welfare’ by Grace Petrie. We do a lot of shows with Grace and she is without a doubt the best political singer-songwriter out there. She’s a Billy Bragg for the millennial generation.
If UKIP are the undisputed baddies of British politics, who are the goodies?
J: There is no undisputed ‘goodie’ in British politics at the moment. I think that’s why people are shifting to the more radical right, and looking towards the more prejudiced and narrow-minded parties like UKIP for answers because they don’t feel there is a ‘goody’.
P: When you have a Labour Party moving so far to the right of the unions and working people, it’s no wonder everyone feels unrepresented and so begin looking for anything else. They just want an alternative with a viable leader and stance, which in my opinion is something we don’t really have.
Crystal ball time – who will hold the balance of power come 8 May: UKIP, SNP, anyone else?
J: We’d love to think that the balance of power is in the hands of Labour and the SNP, maybe even the Liberal Democrats, but this isn’t going to be an election you can predict. I think any sensible person to the left of centre is desperately hopeful that we won’t be keeping the party that is selling the NHS …
P: And is hell-bent on eradicating the BBC …
J: And seems to believe that fairness means attacking the poor …
P: And victimising those ‘beneath’ them to benefit their wealthy conglomerate-driven buddies on the top of the financial pile.
J: Well said.
P: Thank you.
J: We can speculate on who will hold the torch until the cows come home, but another big thing to think about is what the turnout for voting is going to be. We’ve got to catch up to Scotland after their phenomenal Independence Referendum turnout. I think a lot of people are thinking ‘why bother? They’re all the same.’
P: Which is conveniently what we’ve written a show about. Told you I'd get that in somewhere.
Unity Theatre, Liverpool, Fri 8 May: what do you think / hope the mood will be at that gig, the last one on the tour and a day after the election?
J: We’ve discussed it at length, and we think the mood will be one of uncertainty as the chances are we’re heading for another hung parliament and we still won’t really know the election result until a few days after that.
P: Other than that it will be brilliant. It’s the final night of the tour, the last hurrah, and you know what? If anyone is going to have a good sense of humour in the face of adversity it’s definitely going to be Liverpudlians. Those guys really know how to laugh.
J: And drink.
P: Actually, yeah, they really know how to drink.
Jonny & The Baptists: Rock the Vote tours from Thu 2 Apr–Fri 8 May