Tories Abuse Reggae Classic – SHOCKER!

Apparently David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Party conference ended with “the PA system blare-ing out the Jimmy Cliff reggae classic You Can Get It If You Really Want.” (The Times)

After New Labour using Sham 69’s “If The Kids Are United” a few years back, perhaps the time is right for the major parties to really try and out do each other, soundclash style? Who will be the first to cut a Vybz Kartel plate dissing the box bwoys on the other side of the house?

A pox on both their houses, obviously, but this made me chuckle a bit:

“I wonder if the spin doctors of Tory Central Office had ever seen the film “The Harder they Come”. When Mr and Mrs Cameron left the hall to the soundtrack of the movie – “You can get it if you really want” by Jimmy Cliff, did the blue rinses of the Conservatives know that they were celebrating a story about a gun toting, cop killing, ghetto gangster of rude boy early-seventies Jamaican acclaim? Is this the hidden message of David Cameron? They (would) have been better playing “Sitting in Limbo” or even “Draw your brakes” by Scotty from the same soundtrack.”


Of course, the use of reggae in politics is nothing new, in fact it was a major part of the heated political war between the PNP and JLP in Jamaica in the 1970s.

In fact, as The Guardian points out: “perhaps the Tories should be told that the last time the tune was used by a political group was February, 1990: the place Nicaragua, the party, Sandinista National Liberation Front. And, as history records, they took a caning.”

Apparently the tune was recorded 32 years ago, a time when it is unlikely that most tories would have been all that receptive to sweet reggae music. So, in 32 years time are we going to see their successors walking offstage to some Grime? Doing the Dutty Wine?

Or will we have done away with the cess pit of parliamentary politics by then and come up with something far far better?


  1. I don’t know if you ever caught that old documentary about the NF, which begins with John Tyndall sitting in his study, putting a Wagner cassette on his stereo before scribbling in his diary. The doc suspended any ‘shock, horror’ judgements and painted a hilarious picture of a completely fractured party with no hope of mounting a challenge at the polls. The film ended with the same shot of Tyndall in his study, only the closing music was “You Can Get It If You Really Want”. Well, made me laugh anyway.

    Maybe I need ECT or something but I’ve been fascinated with the highlights of this year’s Tory conference…

  2. One of the great sights of my life was seeing Nick Griffin leading a motely crew down a gauntlet of protestors backed by a sound system blasting out Culture and a 80-year-old Yorkshireman who wandered into the midst of it all by chance shouting out to him: “They’d be no fucking reggae with you in power and no fucking sunshine you wanker!”

  3. I remember one election when I was living in Brixton (maybe 1987 or thereabouts), the Tories came past on a lorry with the speakers blaring out ‘Word Up’ by Cameo, no doubt thinking this would get them down with black voters – ‘put your hands in the air like you don’t care’.

  4. In the 1990 election the FSLN (Sandanista National Liberation Front) won 39 out of the 92 National Assembly seats – more than any other single political party. Yes they lost the election, but they lost it to the UNO (National Opposition Union), a US backed alliance of fouteeen political parties ranging from the right wing Conservative National Action Party to the Communist Party of Nicaragua!

    People knew that if they re-elected the FSLN the US would continue mining their harbours (sinking civillian ships) and generally trying to screw the country – so although it might seem pedantic I wouldn’t say the Sandanistas “took a caning”. They did surprisingly well under the circumstances and the Jimmy Cliff track was probably a good choice.

    At a Tory conference though! How incongruous can you get? David Cameron giving his speech in a hoodie with frequent pauses to toke on a joint?

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