In my previous post I wondered if Nick Clegg would do much to enthuse me. Well, in my view he’s got off to a good start.
He revealed on the radio that he doesn’t believe in God. What’s more, he seems to have a thoroughly sensible, tolerant approach to the whole religion issue.
What a refreshing thing to hear from a politician. It does often seem as though atheism or even agnosticism is one of the worst things a politician can be associated with among some circles. Tony Blair even seemed to think it was a liability to be the wrong type of Christian. C of E while PM, since resigning he has mysteriously become a Roman Catholic.
Paul Linford, for instance has said that Clegg’s non-belief is “certainly concerning for me as a Christian” (via Bob Piper). Never mind the millions of non-Christians in this country who have never seen a non-Christian PM! I wonder if he ever found Margaret Thatcher’s sex as concerning for him as a male.
In this supposedly tolerant society, I sometimes think we’d sooner see a three-legged Prime Minister than a non-church-goer — never mind a black or openly gay PM. I wonder how many leaders of the major parties historically have publicly stated that they don’t believe in God. I assume Nick Clegg must be among the first. Full credit to him for speaking the truth.
The second thing that has impressed me is the fact that he has enlisted Brian Eno to “reach out beyond the London beltway”. In particular, Eno is to advise the Lib Dems on how to appeal to young people.
This is good in two senses. Firstly, appealing to young people is good. One of the biggest crimes in the country today is to be a yoof, as you can see with the vilification of the hoodie, a convenient item of clothing.
Appealing to young people is a typical politician’s cliché. But this comes across to me as quite a serious attempt. Brian Eno is not some greasy pole-climbing politician looking to get good headlines in the Daily Mail.
The second sense in which is this good is… Brian Eno, man!
Brian Eno is 59, which has led some people to wonder if he is really the right person to appeal to youth. I’m 21, which is pretty young, although I guess I am not like most yoofs. But I think Brian Eno is great. The person who (as legend has it) invented ambient music has got to be awesome, right?
He has created some of the greatest pieces of music of the past thirty or forty years. A lot of young people respect this. I know I certainly do. Okay, there are various U2-related crimes, but that’s a tough gig. I mean, talk about polishing a turd!
Brian Eno should be respected for actually engaging his brain (one). He is the only pop musician I can think of who doesn’t just dribble out ignorance every time he opines about a topic other than music. In a world teeming with preening pricks like Bob Geldof and Bono, Brian Eno is a real breath of fresh air.
And, unlike Bob Geldof’s sojourn with the Conservatives (presumably David Cameron has some really nice biscuits and a good belly-rubbing technique), Eno’s association with the Lib Dems is principled. Remember Eno’s website from a couple of years back, Lib Dem This Time (rather broken-looking now)? Eno is also a long-standing supporter of electoral reform.
One other thing, and it’s related to what I said yesterday. It looks as though Nick Clegg has raised a few eyebrows by saying that he hasn’t heard of ‘Fairytale of New York’ and by citing a non-existent album (‘Changes’ by David Bowie) as his favourite.
It does seem a bit odd. But what if the poor guy just doesn’t like pop music? I have written before that I don’t understand why we expect politicians to know these things. Sure, most people keep tabs on pop music. But we are all different, and we all have different interests. Maybe Clegg’s “gaffes” are just down to the fact that he doesn’t waste time on trivia.
I’m glad I have ruled out becoming a politician in the future. If I did, I would no doubt be asked what my favourite film was. I’d have to answer, “I dunno, I don’t really watch films,” because I don’t really watch films. Then I’d be crucified by a media (and society?) that wants mine to be a mirror image of the median voter’s leisure tastes.