Sunday Mercury

Below is the interview I did recently with the Birmingham Sunday Mercury. I had no idea it would be such a big feature!


Sunday Mercury Interview

And now here’s what it actually says:

A CHART topping Midland pop star is to name and shame MPs who voted for the invasion of Iraq in a controversial anti-war song.

Jyoti Mishra, who performs under the pseudonym White Town, has recorded a track titled These Are The MPs on his forthcoming comeback album Don’t Mention The War.

Over a synthesiser drone, the 40-year-old Derby musician recites the names of all 412 MPs who gave the Government the authority to topple Saddam during a Commons debate.

They include Birmingham politicians such as Estelle Morris, Steve McCabe and Gisela Stuart. Outspoken anti-war MP Clare Short is conspicuous by her absence.

Mishra, who lives in Derby and topped the UK singles chart in 1997 with Your Woman, says songs on the album are meant to remind people that the horrors of war continue daily.

“I used to be a lefty,” he told the Sunday Mercury. “Now I’m a failed lefty. I thought I knew everything there was to know about politics, but then I started to question my own beliefs.

“One absolute certainty, however, is that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Even people who were in favour of war back in 2003 now admit that it was wrong.

“Day to day life goes on here; in Britain while we pay our taxes to have people killed in Iraq. We watch Celebrity Big Brother while we bomb children. I don’t want to kill

The synth songwriter says he wanted to capture the contrast between everyday life and war on the album – but it’s These Are The MPs which will spark controversy.

“It is a list of all those who voted for the invasion of Iraq,” said Mishra. “I got all the names from Hansard, starting with Estelle Morris, and read them out.

“There were so many that it took me 40 minutes to get through them all. To squeeze them into a four-minute track, I had to layer my voice. In the end there are 18 of me,
reading out the names.

“These people may have been misled by Blair but they still voted to kill people. Some may have followed their conscience but a lot just followed the party whip.

“Towards the end of the track my voice is ragged. It’s not any acting skill or dramatic device, it’s just that the whole thing was starting to freak me out.”

Mishra, who has just returned home from hospital after suffering a glandular disorder. which left him unable to eat or sleep for a month, says he was humbled by the dedica-
tion of NHS nurses.

“They work hard in the face of cutbacks,” he said. “Yet they were being told they would have to re-apply for their own jobs. There is always money for war but none for hospitals,
schools and housing.

“How can so much money be available for killing people?”

Last night, Midland MPs were unimpressed by the anti-war track, Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, said: “I won’t be breaking down the door to get a copy of this, not even for the Commons Christmas party’.

“I confess I can’t remember his No 1 hit. Was it any good?

“The way I voted on lraq is alreaiiy a matter of public record so this won’t add anything to that. If people like, the song, and it gets in the charts; then fine.

“It’s not unusual for a pop musician to dabble, in politics in this manner. I recall Simon & Garfunkel doing something similar with Silent Night and a radio report on the Vietnam War.”

Gisela Stuart, Conservative MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, said: “People take a narrow snapshot and forget what Saddam Hussein did to his people.

“If we had gone all the way to Baghdad in the first Gulf War, then he could have been brought to book then and many lives could have been saved.

“If this piece of music gets a wider debate on the conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan going, then that is good. But otherwise, there seems little point.

“I am sure, however, that it will be not only my first but also my last appearance in a pop song.”

Hmmm… ‘MPs’ is hardly a pop song. It’s not even a song! I think the comments from the MPs are quite funny. I find the one from the Tory particularly stupid, trying to justify the 655,000 Iraqis killed since the invasion by harking back to Hussein. He was a mere beginner at mass slaughter compared to Bush and Blair.

Notice also the dismissive tone from the New Labour apparatchik Steve McCabe:

“It’s not unusual for a pop musician to dabble in politics in this manner.”

Yes, we should all keep our mouths shut and leave the politics to the professionals. That way they can offer honours for cash and invade non-aggressor countries without any trouble from us pesky serfs.

February 8, 2007. Interviews.