Thursday, September 27, 2007

Music... and Gordon Brown v Paul Martin.

I can't wait for the new season of Corner Gas!

Oh, wait. Actually, I can.

Anyway, a few links to post for you. First of all, check it out, it's a lyrical map of London we created in Google Maps for the Guardian Arts blog. We "marked out some more famous places and streets that crop up in the music of Blur, the Rolling Stones, Akira the Don and a couple dozen other bands and artists. Click around below to travel to, for example, the Joiners Arms with Bloc Party or the Clash's Hammersmith Palais (RIP)."

So, that's Nestruck Jr. But what's this? Nestruck Sr is on the Arts blog, too! Yes, I commissioned my father - currently touring 42nd Street in China - to write about touring a Broadway musical in China. Why? Because Cameron Mackintosh is making a big move into China...

And look: I teamed up with Rosie Swash to write the In the News today, so here's a link. Guess which items(s) I wrote up and you win a prize.

By the way, have I mentioned that Gordon Brown leaves me completely unimpressed? I know Canadians love to compare him to Paul Martin (Minister of Finance/Chancellor of the Exchequer, mounted campaigns to replace multiple-election-winning leaders, left to deal with scandals once old leader was gone, uncharismatic and with toupee-esque hair), but just because he's polling well doesn't mean we should backtrack on that comparison just yet. Watching his Labour convention speech, I was struck by another big similarity between the two: the rather annoying father worship. Brown goes on and on about how his father the minister was a moral man; Martin went on and on about his father the minister (of National Health and welfare) and how he helped bring in Medicare.

But really: Who cares who your daddy was? These are allegedly men of the (centre-)left who should know that in our modern meritocratic, put-everyone-on-a-level-playing-ground societies your breeding is not supposed to matter. (Emphasis: supposed.) Catherine Bennett skewered this really well today:
Traditionally, even those politicians who were proud to recognise the influence of their fathers seem to have recoiled - unlike Mr Brown - from passing them off as guarantors of moral purity. Blair occasionally deployed his father, Leo, but only to show he had known hardship. William Hague vouchsafed little more, in his years at the top, than that his father, a small-businessman, disliked red tape. Even Mrs Thatcher, although she declared on entering Downing Street, "I owe almost everything to my father," never seemed to make as much, in public, of the influence of Alderman Roberts as her critics on the left, who found his - and therefore her - shopkeeper's thrift so deliriously common.

There was a time when Gordon Brown also preferred to keep quiet about the provenance of his moral compass. Indeed we were not, I think, confronted with this accessory until his 2005 conference speech, when the then chancellor decided - he told Bel Mooney - that "you've got to explain your background and on that basis people may understand me better".

We can only guess if he would have been so forthcoming on this question, had his father been, say, a drunk, a bigamist, or a Foxtons estate agent. But maybe the spawn of such people are best kept out of politics. Maybe - as John le Carré (son of a confidence trickster) once said of his maternal grandfather (a pious JP) - Brown believes that "a rotten tree could not bring forth good fruit".
I think the key difference between Martin and Brown is that Brown is facing David Cameron and not Stephen Harper. Of course, that's with hindsight - who knew Harper would get his act together? On the same note, however, who knows for sure whether Cameron will be able to get it together or not?

I don't want to draw too many comparisons between Martin and Brown's situations; obviously they're different. But, again: I am not impressed by Brown so far. He is very much, pace Martin, trying to be everything to everyone, and, though previously praised as a policy wonk, he's demonstrating that he can be very sketchy about what he actually wants to do.

But he's going to scoop Conservative voters away! He's going to scoop Liberal Democrat voters away! Sure, sure. I've heard it before.


Alanah said...

Love the lyrical map. Help me make one for Montreal? I don't think we have many songs about us...lemme know if any lyrics pop into mind

Ben said...

Captured a taxi despite all the rain
We drove in silence across Pont Champlain
And all of that time you thought I was sad
I was trying to remember your name

Ben said...

And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look