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Labour's Charity Single Is a Perfect Example of the Party's Pointlessness

Why are a group of people who literally have seats in Parliament releasing a charity single when they could fight for these issues at the source?
Screen shot via YouTube

It's shit being a retail worker at Christmas. So, in a way, I suppose it's a good thing that the Parliamentary Labour Party is starting to pay attention to the plight of these poor souls. On the other hand, it's actually a very terrible thing, because their way of paying attention has been to record what might well be the worst charity single of all time. A charity single so bad that perhaps the only proportionate response is to disband the Labour party wholesale.


Gurning in the studio, wearing Christmas hats and holding dogs, the group of MPs – whose ranks include Great Right Hope, Dan Jarvis; Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner; and 2015 leadership contest also-ran Mary Creagh – holler, like a tortured choir of joiner-inners at a work away day, some hellish dirge about employment rights set to the tune of "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

There are so many problems with what Labour are trying to do here. First and foremost: the song is terrible. The MPs can't sing (obviously); the phoney lines they've come up with to fit the tune of the famously bad original don't scan; the chorus in particular is a total mess ("Keep their per-rrrr-kks / Don't be Scrooge it's Christmas time!"). This wouldn't really matter, I suppose, if the song was getting its important message across effectively. But of course it's not.

The song is possessed of a dry and technical quality, each line pitched in such a way that you could only coherently respond to it if you already knew what these people were talking about. The "perks" line, for instance, refers to cuts to overtime, bonuses, etc that employers are apparently making in order to retain their profit margins in the face of the introduction of the National Living Wage. It took me maybe three listens to the song and two read-throughs of a news article about it to figure any of this out. A casual listener would be perfectly capable of listening to this song and thinking: 'Oh those bloody lazy retail workers, why don't I get any perks?' and then take to their phone to rattle off a few tweets of nonsense about how it's wrong to go on strike, and anyway, thanks to the last Labour government white people are no longer allowed to.


And ripping off Band Aid isn't just a terrible idea because it's a piss-poor song. The legacy of Band Aid – and the Live Aid concert that followed in its wake – is famously problematic; problematic in a way that seems to structurally undermine the message of any well-meaning song that borrows its tune. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was based around a fundamental Othering of Africa in general, and Ethiopia in particular, casting Western musicians as benevolent angels offering salvation to the wretched of the earth. It asked if citizens of one of the most ancient Christian countries in the world were aware of one of their own faith's two most important festivals, and treated a famine that had been mostly caused by political factors as something that could be relieved by Western aid money, which ended up mostly being used by the Ethiopian state to buy Soviet arms and fund brutal resettlement programmes.

Dare you to try and get through the whole thing

Obviously the Labour MPs' charity single won't be responsible for anything this monstrous. But it's nevertheless worrying that Labour are apparently willing to cast retail workers in the place of Band Aid's helpless Others, oblivious of the implication. Is this really the message Labour want to project to retail workers, who must make up at least some of their own voter base?

And incidentally, just what are a group of people who literally have seats in parliament doing releasing a "charity" single anyway? Surely it's the job of charity to step in precisely where the state isn't doing anything to help? As opposition MPs, these people comprise a key part of the state – why are they promoting a clownishly ineffective charity initiative as opposed to contesting Tory policies at the source? If, for instance, the legislation introducing the National Living Wage had a loophole in it allowing employers to cut "perks" and thus keep real wages at basically the same level, why didn't Labour spot this at the time and then do something about it in Parliament? These people are only calling attention to their own impotence.

So where does all this leave the Labour party? The Tories are riddled by infighting and the Prime Minister is either so weak or so evil that she's willing to trash the economy by banning immigration.

Despite this, Labour are about 20 points behind in the polls, with no apparent prospects of a revival. In this situation, the best they can offer is… what? Corbyn and McDonnell's increasingly inchoate not-quite-populism? More Momentum infighting? Stephen fucking Kinnock with his head like Vladimir Putin ranting about the glory of the British race, or something? Or this awful, dorky mess that would be quaint and well-meaning if your mum's church did it, but from literal legislators at a time of national and indeed international crisis just seems… well, it's really bad and out-of-touch is what I'm saying.

Honestly, the question must present itself: why even bother with the Labour party any more? Surely at some point we're all going to realise that, in terms of realising leftist or just leftish political goals, these people are far more of a hindrance than a help.