Mark Simpson Saw it first... Eton Rifles shoot again...

Paul Weller & David Cameron: In the latest proof that politics and pop do not mix, David Cameron's attempt to show that you can be a Tory and yet be into raw protest songs has earned a scathing rejection from the singer/songwriter Paul Weller. The "Modfather" was disgusted to hear that Mr Cameron had selected the 1979 hit "The Eton Rifles", by The Jam, as his favourite track. Mr Cameron was a 12-year-old Eton schoolboy when the song was written, and seems to have missed the point that it was a satire that ridiculed Eton boys rather than praising them.

"Which part of it didn't he get? It wasn't intended as a fucking jolly drinking song for the cadet corps," Mr Weller says in this week's issue of the New Statesman magazine. The unwanted tribute made him decide to revive the song on his current solo tour, because "it's just as powerful now, just as relevant, as it was in 1979". Weller, who will be 50 this month, wrote the song after seeing television pictures of Right to Work marchers being jeered by public schoolboys as they passed through Eton en route from Liverpool to London. It was the first major hit for The Jam, reaching No 3 in the charts. When David Cameron was asked on a recent Radio 4 programme to name his favourite track he replied: "'The Eton Rifles', inevitably. I was one, in the corps. It meant a lot, some of those early Jam albums we used to listen to. I don't see why the left should be the only ones allowed to listen to protest songs."
Mr Cameron cannot have been unaware of Weller's politics. In the 1980s, the musician was a leading figure in Red Wedge, the network of artists who campaigned for the Labour Party and other left-wing causes. He has since become disillusioned with Labour, and rejected a CBE in 2006. He described Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, as "corrupted by power" – but was equally critical of Boris Johnson, also an Eton schoolboy when "The Eton Rifles" was written. He told the New Statesman: "How can you vote for a man who looks like he's got his mum to cut his hair with the garden shears? He's a gibbering idiot, like Tim Nice-But-Dim."

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