Coffee House

Fake plastic politics?

25 March 2008

Words you seldom hear at U2 concerts (or, indeed anywhere else): "If only Bono spent a bit less time in the recording studio and a bit more time on the international stage talking about global injustice, ah, bejaysus wouldn’t the world be a better place?"

After last weekend, right-thinking Radiohead fans may find themselves in a similar pickle. Is it possible – as Wagner fans seem to manage well enough – to divorce the man’s politics from his art? Or will all future attempts to enjoy The Bends, OK Computer and In Rainbows be quite ruined by the memory of the toecurling, Climate Change special edition of the Observer magazine, guest edited by Radiohead’s singer/songwriter Thom Yorke?

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I’m thinking particularly of the five-page interview-cum-love-in, conducted at the Dorchester hotel, in which a star-struck Yorke gets the chance to meet one of his greatest idols Red Ken Livingstone. "Ken tips a jar of fairtrade biscuits on to the boardroom table, studies the packets and then puts them all back in the jar…" 

Livingstone’s political views (basically: the planet’s doomed unless we live in  yurts, travel to work by coracle, revive the barter system, create a state-funded rock pile on every street corner to enable the poor more easily to stone 4 x 4 drivers, and kill Boris Johnson) are subjected by Yorke to a rigorous critical scrutiny not dissimilar to that which Stalin’s latest speeches on tractor production would have received at 1930s politburo meetings.

Earlier in the green mag, Thom reveals that he’s anti nuclear power, anti fast cars, mad-keen on the forcing through of at least 80 per cent carbon emissions by  2050 (apparently oblivious, as only a millionaire rock star could be, on the economic implications of such a policy were it to be enforced) and that when Friends Of The Earth first approached him to be their spokesman, they didn’t want someone who’d present "a holier-than-thou" message. Phew, that’s all right then. Imagine if they’d chosen someone humourless and preachy!

For those of us who believe Warmists like Yorke are part of the problem, not the solution, there was one small scrap of comfort. The magazine’s eco-clap-trap was funded with the help of adverts for mega-expensive, chunky motor cars, include one of Mayor Livingstone’s personal favourites – the Range Rover Sport HST.

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Show comments
  • CG

    I used to work in a youth club. None of the kids were interested in Radiohead or had even heard of them. Why are people like Yorke so self-important?

  • THX1138

    James -The Spectator is part of the problem not Radiohead the world is getting warmer and yes we do need to do something about it and your cheap jibes are just that cheap . As I recall Dave is a huge fan and was at the FOE Big Ask gig in Camden where Jonny & Thom played an excellent acoustic set. Saileri that was so flat. I think you have just dissed half the Tory front Bench. Radiohead are one of the great bands of recent times your curse was you are supposed to be able to see genius but not emulate it well listen to OK Computer or more recently In Rainbows and Jonny’s recent score for There will Be Blood just fantastic music. I have my ticket for Victoria Park in the summer & I can’t wait. I hope it’s on the same day as the Spectator summer party so all the important people will make their excuses and I will see Dave, Boy George & Gove in Victoria park swaying along to karma police with a bottle of bud & a spliff. Then I would vote Tory.

  • Nicholas

    Nigel Havers once summed Bono up to a ‘T’ but I could not possibly repeat that here.

  • The Wonderful Jones

    As soon as I saw the headline, I knew what this posting would be about. Predictable and tedious. The article, James, not Thom Yorke.

  • J H Holloway

    James, that’s an interview worth disecting…

    Lenin brings up the £25 daily c-charge for big engines and the soon-to-fail bike hire scheme copied from Paris

    “So although you might say, “This only removes 5,000 to 7,000 tonnes of carbon by hitting the 4x4s,”‘ he continues, warming to his theme, ‘it actually provides the funding that will put in the cycle ways and you’ll end up with half a million tonnes less carbon emissions.”

    Eh? The £25 charge will tax big cars off the road – but it will also provide the funding to install the dim-wit cycle scheme.

    Can anybody explain how you can raise money from a tax that is set so high, driver’s won’t pay it. And if they do keep driving and pay, you can still remove 5000 tonnes of Co2 from the atmosphere?

  • Jumbo O’Reilly

    Yeah, Yorke is a classic lovie liberal buffoon, but I still love listening to Radiohead.

  • salieri

    I have a problem with the phrase “right-thinking Radiohead fans”. Is it oxymoronic?

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