And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #312: David Cameron v The Smiths

By | Published on Friday 1 July 2016

David Cameron

Yeah, you’re right, this would be the perfect time to resurrect the ‘pop v Brexit’ theme in this column, given all the chat there’s been in the last week about the utter disaster the UK is currently sliding itself into. But pop didn’t stop us from getting into this mess, did it? In many ways, I think pop is the real villain in this story.

No, not really. It’s David Cameron, isn’t it? For all the various bit players who have and are in the process of entirely fucking us all over, his unwillingness to do his job before or after the referendum is the catalyst for all of what we now face. So let’s just needlessly poke fun at him for the rest of this article.

Thankfully, David Cameron makes it easy to laugh at him, due to his long proclaimed love of The Smiths. Amazingly, this has now been rolling on for ten years, ever since Cameron picked ‘This Charming Man’ by The Smiths as one of his favourite songs on Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’. His repeated claims to be “a big fan” of the band eventually led guitarist Johnny Marr to proclaim in 2010: “David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it”.

Cameron has since defied this, saying that he will “go on and listen to The Smiths”. Has he though? Has he really? Has he, in fact, ever heard The Smiths, beyond once catching a bit of a song on the radio by accident?

During Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday, Cameron invoked Morrissey and the gang in a dig at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying: “I’ve never felt greater support from my party and I’m leaving. And I’ve never seen an opposition leader with less support and he’s staying. As someone about to enter the political graveyard perhaps I could misquote my favourite man and say ‘let’s meet at the cemetery gates’!”

He did indeed misquote his “favourite man”, because the actual line form ‘Cemetery Gates’ is “So I meet you at the cemetery gates”. Labour MP Kerry McCarthy – not for the first time – then attempted to engage Cameron in debate via the means of lyrics from other songs on the band’s ‘The Queen Is Dead’ album.

“If the Prime Minister is going to dig out his copy of ‘The Queen Is Dead’ album, he might want to depress himself even further by listening to my favourite track, ‘I Know It’s Over’. Although as far as the Labour Party’s concerned, it’s ‘There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out'”.

“I was interested that the Labour Party’s favourite Smiths song was ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out'”, Cameron shot back, at least getting the title right. “Because it actually involves a double suicide. And I think the lyrics are, ‘And if a double decker bus crashes into us, there’s no finer way than by your side’. I think I’m right in saying. I’m not sure that’s wholly reassuring to the front bench. I think the next verse is, ‘If a ten tonne truck crashes into us'”.

Passing the floor back to Labour for the next question, speaker of the house John Bercow said: “I didn’t know the Prime Minister had quite such a compendious knowledge of modern music. I’m extraordinarily impressed”.

Right, first, Bercow, ‘The Queen Is Dead’ came out in 1986. Secondly, David Cameron is always banging on about The Smiths and what a big fan he is. And thirdly, he just got arguably the most famous lyric Morrissey ever wrote wrong. That’s twice he misquoted his “favourite man” in the space of a few minutes.

The correct words are, “And if a double decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die”. A subtle difference, perhaps. But “there’s no finer way than by your side”, come on man. That sounds like the kind of lyric only a man entirely out of touch with society would come up with. Oh.

It’s worth going back and seeing what other songs the soon to be ex-Prime Minister picked on ‘Desert Island Discs’ now, because some are starting to seem more apt. He closed his playlist with ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ by The Killers, and the song he said he’d save over the others if the waves washed them away was ‘Tied Up In Blue’ by Bob Dylan.