Donald Clarke: Why shouldn’t Kate Bush admire Theresa May?

Bush, the cool face of prog rock, has always gone her own way. But the Tories? C’mon

Kate Bush: Opined that the Brexit prime minister is “the best thing that’s happened to us in a long time”.

Kate Bush: Opined that the Brexit prime minister is “the best thing that’s happened to us in a long time”.

 

Something unsurprising happened last week. A middle-aged doctor’s daughter from East Wickham expressed warm feelings about Theresa May. The outer-London constituency in which said daughter grew up has returned a Tory since the days when voters were paid in mangelwurzels. Edward Heath was once the MP there.

Following that comfortable upbringing, the lady made her own fortune and moved to the county of Devon. Outside the city of Exeter, they tend to weigh, rather than count, the mountains of Conservative votes in Devon. So such a person declaring mild support for the Tory leader should be no more surprising than, say, a veteran Galwegian socialist expressing regret at the death of Fidel Castro. (Do you see what I did there?)

The comments attracted attention because a musician made them. Kate Bush, the acceptable face of prog rock for four decades, was speaking with the respectable Canadian magazine Maclean’s.

Responding to a question about the recent defeat of Hillary Clinton, Bush pointed out that the UK now had a female leader.

“I actually really like her and think she’s wonderful,” she said. “I think it’s the best thing that’s happened to us in a long time. She’s a very intelligent woman but I don’t see much to fear. I will say it is great to have a woman in charge of the country. She’s very sensible and I think that’s a good thing at this point in time.”

It goes without saying that the interview kicked up some unsavoury aggression on social media. (Reporting on the furore, one UK tabloid went for “Hate Bush”.)

A stubborn belief exists that people in in the creative industries must be of a liberal bent. The reaction was not so severe as that directed at JK Rowling for daring to support someone other than Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the Labour Party. But it was nasty enough. Kate Bush? George Bush, more like. Ha ha!

Change is, like, good

There was never much reason to believe that Ms Bush was any sort of leftist. Speaking to Sinéad Gleeson in this newspaper last weekend (http://iti.ms/2gpKflO), she was gnomic about the subject of Brexit. “Change is such an important part of life. It’s such a different world from even five years ago,” she said. Those certainly didn’t sound like the words of an awkward Remoaner.

Bush has never been much tied up with conventional politics. You can read feminist inclinations into songs such as This Woman’s Work, but she has never occupied a podium or walked under any banner.

“I don’t feel that strongly about the women’s movement. I think male chauvinism is just a gesture,” she told Nineteen magazine way back in 1982. She was more explicit still in an interview with VH1 seven years later. “I don’t think I’m politically minded at all,” she said. “I don’t like what I see in politics. I don’t see politics doing any good for people.”

Bush’s statement on Theresa May does not place her in the same bestiary that contained Eric Clapton (who played on Bush’s LP, The Red Shoes) when, expressing sympathy for Enoch Powell during a concert in 1976, he suggested we should “send them all back”.

Nor do her comments give off the moronic glibness that ran through Geri Halliwell’s famous declaration of support for the Tories: “Thatcher was the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology.”

If Velvet Underground enthusiasts can enjoy their music after hearing that Moe Tucker, the band’s drummer, supported the Tea Party, then liberal Kate Bush fans should, without too much wincing, still be able to appreciate the intricate modulations of Hounds of Love.

Musical cranks

This is not to suggest there should be no limit to such tolerance. Clapton’s barely disguised racism provided yet another reason to avoid the dreary Clarkson rock he has been delivering since the early 1970s. The music of Richard Wagner, a noted anti-Semite popular with Nazis, still triggers moral convulsions within the breasts of liberal enthusiasts. We fearfully await some worthwhile musician (no, not you, Ted Nugent) coming out for the current president-elect.

Bush was wrong when she suggested that “politics” did no good. When it works, “politics” delivers social welfare, national security and the continuance of order. But that is how she feels, and her comments on Theresa May only confirm that inclination.

There is no mention of policy in her reply. She does not place herself on the political spectrum. She looks at the UK prime minister and sees somebody with whom she can identify. That attitude places Kate Bush outside the current, polarised global slugfest.

Oh, well. A sense of being apart from the era has always been crucial to the appeal for Bush’s fans. Nobody much expected Wuthering Heights in the post-punk era. She’s never been part of any zeitgeist.

Still. The Tories? Eww.

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