While David Cameron’s Conservative Party conference speech contained nods to the “UKIP right” – his rhetoric on extremism, segregation, and radical Islam for instance – the majority of it could have been plucked from any Tony Blair, or indeed Bill Clinton speech. As far as Cameron’s Conservatives are concerned, The Third Way is here to stay, and the Tories point to their wafer thin majority and the lowest share of the vote of any Conservative majority government in history as rationale for this.
So what better way to celebrate than with Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” [Thinking About Tomorrow], which Mr Cameron left the stage to after his conference speech this afternoon?
The 1977 song was famously used by Bill Clinton for his inaugural ball in 1993, though his aides urged him to use something a bit more contemporary.
Time Magazine notes: “…the song stuck. Don’t Stop proved to be such a malleable theme song that Clinton still uses it regulary [sic]; he plays it at fundraisers and speeches, he name-checked it at the 2000 Democratic National Convention and this year in Denver, he walked on stage to it.”
So what do campaign songs tell us about the party leaders and their direction?
I had the pleasure of selecting the music for Nigel Farage’s last big rally in South Thanet the day before the election and chose an unknown piece of music called “Take A Chance” which contained the lyrics: “Is it cause you’re not my usual type? I usually end up with the ones i don’t like… Take a chance, take a chance… on us… on you…”
You see what I was going for.
But UKIP’s choice of music this year at their conference was nothing short of inspired, and I understand that Mr Farage, at the very last minute, made the demand for it himself, almost flummoxing their audio-visual team.
“What music should we use?” he was asked minutes before his speech.
“Oh that’s easy… The Final Countdown by Europe!” And he did…
But what Cameron’s choice of music says to me is “Third Way, Clinton, Blair… more of the same”. And his speech reflected that.
Nothing radical. No mention of the EU referendum. No major sea changes for the Conservative Party and certainly not a return to his roots.
I lost count of the number of times he talked up multiculturalism and gay marriage – two of the major causes for his party’s decline in membership.
So much like Cameron and Blair’s approach to Britain – should we interpret this speech and the framing around it as “managed decline”? Well just look at Fleetwood Mac’s lyrics:
“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here, It’ll be even better than before, Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone…Ooh, don’t you look back”