Protest songs come to #Lab14

by Kevin Brennan

Edwyn Collins told us that there are too many protest singers and not enough protest songs. The great English protest singer, Billy Bragg, came to the view that social justice would be best advanced by breaking up the UK. Obviously this is not a view I share because it would have split our great Union. I’m referring of course to the UK music phenomenon that is MP4, including our ex-Runrig keyboard player Pete Wishart MP of the SNP.

MP4 is the world’s most successful (and possibly the only) cross party parliamentary band.  We don’t do protest songs as our differing political views might result in a mixed message, but we agree on the power of people making music whoever they are. We released our album Cross Party – available on iTunes and Revolver Records with self penned soon to be classics such as “Stone in My Shoe” and “Rock and Roll Heaven”.

We should not be confused with another MP4, a dance-rap group from Hong Kong whose releases include a self-titled six-track EP featuring the song “Lao Dou Mi Suo Qie (Don’t Do Drugs My Dad).”  They call themselves MP4. we ARE MP4!

It’s only 6 months until Ed Miliband will become the next Labour prime minister. Now is the time to put some musical fire into our Labour hearts, and rock and roll soul into our Labour campaigning.

MP4 members are otherwise engaged but I will be performing solo acoustically for a short set at the UK Music event at Party Conference on Tuesday 23rdSeptember from 19:30 in the Midland Hotel (Derby Suite). Come along, comrades

I’m doing this with UK Music, the trade body for the music industry, because of the good work it does.  It exemplifies the responsible capitalism that we in the party advocate. Last year it launched a Skills Academy with the CBI to increase apprenticeships and diversity in the music industry. It is ending exploitative practices and has produced a Code of Practice with Intern Aware. It is opening doors of opportunity to young people from every walk of life and it recognises that social justice and business success go hand in hand.

Labour Invite (2)

We can only build social justice when we work with UK business. Music contains many such businesses. UK Music recently published ‘Measuring Music’, a study on the economic contribution of music. It found that in 2013 the growth in the GDP contribution of music (9 per cent) significantly outpaced the GDP growth of the economy as a whole (1.7 per cent). The export performance of music also outperforms the economy average – music exports now equate to almost 60 per cent of music’s GDP contribution, nearly twice as large as the average ratio of exports to GDP across the economy.

The UK music industry’s ratio of exports to GDP contribution even beats that of the German economy. Through these exports and domestic demand, 110,000 jobs are sustained by the music industry.

Labour should back these workers and responsible employers. We should work with bodies like UK Music who lead the field offering guidance on best employment practices and training for young people.  The Labour Party must reinforce the work of organisations like UK Music by extending opportunity and best practice to everyone irrespective of their background or status.  Even to those serving at her Majesty’s pleasure.

I’ve campaigned successfully recently for prisoners to be allowed guitars in their cells. That’s something Billy Bragg and I do agree on. I stand by the maxim of my protest singer hero, Johnny Cash: hate the sin, love the sinner.

Music has the power to do good – so come and join us at UK Music’s celebration of our country’s outstanding music industry.

Kevin Brennan MP is shadow schools minister 

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2 Responses to “Protest songs come to #Lab14”

  1. Ex Labour says:

    “It’s only 6 months until Ed Miliband will become the next Labour prime minister”

    You didnt say you were a comedian as well !

    “We can only build social justice when we work with UK business”

    Have you told Moribund this as he seems confused as to who will provide the funds for Labour to tax and spend?

    “I’ve campaigned successfully recently for prisoners to be allowed guitars in their cells”

    FFS.. TV’s, radios, drugs, days out, what is the fecking point of prison ? Are you planning to introduce McDonalds and Nando’s as well ?

  2. Tafia says:

    Guitars in cells – ROFL. I have worked twice in prisons – they are nasty violent places. You give someone a guitar and they play the wrong type of music ir play it at the wrong time and he will be beaten or worse.

    Start making prisons places people are scared of. Longer harsher sentences where the prisoner has to work hard and comply in order to gain things such as visits, mail, TV etc. Start making basic literacy lessons mandatory (most of the prisoners I met were illiterate and innumerate and as a result unemployable).

    Start making drug testing mandatory and positive tests resulting in an extension to the sentence. Make early release a reward not a right. Start using jammers to jam standard mobile phone signals and start making Prison Officers and Prison Staff face routine drug testing and routine searching by anonymous outside agencies (the main route of drugs and phones into prisons is actually via prison officers and prison staff.

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