Loved and hated in equal measure Margaret Thatcher probably provoked more vitriol and menace from the ‘poparazzi’ of the day than any other British prime minister. We have her to thank for simply beautiful Shipbuilding written by Clive Langer during the Falklands war (lyrics by Elvis Costello) for Robert Wyat who released the song on Rough Trade Records. On the recording Wyatt is backed by Clive Langer (organ), Steve Nieve (piano), Mark Bedford (double bass), Martin Hughes (drums) and Elvis Costello (backing vocals). Costello later released his own version on his 1983 album Punch the Clock featuring a performance by jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. I include both below for comparison.
The lyricist Declan Patrick Aloysius Macmanus version, who said at the time these were the best lyrics he’d ever written.
Punks left with nowhere to go after the Pistols implosion all migrated to rude boy roots and ska, The Beat (or The English Beat as they were known in the US) gave us the lively Stand Down Margaret and this version is from the adult version of Tizwas called O.T.T. note the audience all ahem ‘clapping on the one’, oh the 80’s, we were so uncool.
My favourite from the list and I sang it live in the bar of Oberoi Grand in Bombay the night the Tories were first voted out of power. Billy Bragg nails down the essence of the British working man and his desires and how they are being thwarted in a deliberate attack on his sense of fairness. The line ‘sweet moderation, heart of this nation, desert us not, we are between the wars’ defines the British character perfectly, it is our very moderate and unexcitable nature that makes us cool.
Billy also gave us a call to arms with ‘Whose side are you on?’
Our current Tory prime minister claims to be a huge Smiths fan, prompting Johnny Marr to tweet ‘David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it’. But Cameron, who was on a visit to India at the time, declared he’d ”go on and listen,”anyway. In 2006, Cameron chose ‘This Charming Man’ on Desert Island Discs. The tweet wasn’t Marr’s only ban imposed on the prime minister — he repeated the warning in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program — but this time he was specifically ruling that “This Charming Man” is off-limits. ”I think he likes the song,” Marr told the BBC. “That’s probably sadder than if he didn’t know it, really. He’s entitled to like whatever he likes, as long as he doesn’t say it. It’s a good song,” adding, “I do forbid him to like it. He shouldn’t like us because we’re not his kind of people. ”
Regardless of Marrs ban I am pretty certain ‘Dave’ wouldn’t like the song we choose to round out our list, from Viva Hate, Morrisy’s ‘Margaret On The Guillotine’ is full of his usual spite, it’s haunting repeated refrain ‘when will you die?’ has been finally answered, 9/04/13.