First published in Clarity: April 10 2015
The Green Party have pulled a rabbit out of the hat with “Change the Tune.” If you haven’t seen it, check it out on YouTube. It’s by far the most positive thing to have come out of the campaign so far, even though it is at heart an attack ad. The message is not a new one. It essentially reads: “Don’t vote for these four guys. They are all the same. Vote for us. We are different.” Nick Clegg stated it in 2010 when he walked through a blizzard of broken promises, and now in 2015, the Greens promise that they are the fresh breeze that Britain needs.
The video has already gone viral, and has attracted a great deal of attention, a lot of it negative. “Prepare for your insides to seize up with second-hand embarrassment,” said one article. “If you manage to sit through all three minutes and 40 seconds, you’ve got a stronger stomach than us.” Mark Ferguson of Labour List tweeted, “The Greens have been working on this for SIX MONTHS! SIX MONTHS (sic) And at no point did they think it was a bad idea!” And Tim Stanley of the Daily Telegraph tweeted, “It’s like they had a good idea, and it was a good idea for 10 seconds, but then they forgot why they were doing it.”
By far the oddest piece of criticism came from The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis, who de-constructed the video on the grounds of outdated aesthetics. Everything was fair game, from the fact that the party leaders don’t resemble the party leaders they’re impersonating, to the suggestion that the Greens had chosen an outdated boy-band blueprint – more BoyZone than One Direction. “It’s less Chris Morris and more the closing number from an episode of The Two Ronnies,” writes Petridis. Ouch! Fair to say that they’ll still be showing The Two Ronnies closing numbers long after Petridis’s words are dust.
You’d think that journalists and commentators actually like cliché photo opportunities, given how many column inches they have already filled. Well, at least it makes their jobs easier. Maybe its time they changed their tune as well. “Change The Tune” isn’t aimed at them, or anyone already associated with the Green Party. It’s aimed at the average voter who has yet to make up their mind, the person in the street who has little interest in politics but usually votes in elections. These people are desperately grasping for a positive message that they can invest their faith and hope into. They certainly aren’t getting it from the Conservatives, or Labour. And as the Green Party broadcast demonstrates, Nick Clegg can no longer represent the outsider.
Is there a take home message? Lighten up! Political parties have been using campaign songs for decades. And “Change the Tune” packs in far more policy points than Frank Sinatra’s pro-JFK song “High Hopes” from 1960. The Greens should be applauded for crafting a catchy tune out of rail privatisation, tax avoidance, fracking, austerity and tuition fees. Now if only they could have found room for Ronnie Corbett. Preferably in drag.