Posh Boy Squeezed

Posh Boy Squeezed

When I used Squeeze’s From The Cradle To The Grave as the theme song for a Squeeze-centric Saturday Odds & Sods, I had no idea that they’d hit the headlines the very next day:

The band Squeeze have staged a protest against David Cameron live on BBC television by changing the lyrics of their new song to rail against the destruction of the welfare state.

Glenn Tilbrook, one of the founding members of the band that once featured Jools Holland, sang a different version of the final verse in the presence of the prime minister to criticise those “hellbent” on destroying the UK’s social safety net.

Squeeze were invited to appear on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, which featured the traditional new year interview with the prime minister; they played out the programme with a live version of a song from their new album, From the Cradle to the Grave.

As the prime minister sat on the sofa watching the band, who were at the height of their fame in the early 1980s, when Cameron was a teenager, Tilbrook amended the last verse to sing:

I grew up in council housing,
Part of what made Britain great,
There are some here who are hellbent,
On the destruction of the welfare state.

In the original version Tilbrook sings:

They say time will wait for no man,
They say time is on my side,
I could never make my mind up,
As it all goes whizzing by.

At the end of the song the prime minister applauded the band, whose other founding member, Chris Difford, also appeared on the show. A BBC source said: “We were unaware that they were planning to change the lyrics.”

Before continuing with the commentary, here’s the clip:

I had no idea that they ever had musical guests on the Andrew Marr Show since it’s the Beeb’s equivalent of Meet The Press or Face The Nation. I am, however, pleased that Glenn seized on the opportunity to denounce the Tory government, which is doing things in the areas of health care and education that not even Mrs. Thatcher dared to do. It helps when you have a smiling , ostensibly moderate front man like Cameron.

Glenn wrote a piece for the Guardian explaining why he changed the lyrics:

Cameron was talking about knocking down sink estates and rebuilding “affordable housing”. I have four children, and I despair at what has happened to the economy and to UK house prices. It has got to the point where people are no longer able to live in the areas where they grew up unless they have some sort of financial help. I think that’s a result of a system of values that have been encouraged by this government, which is completely wrong – and it wasn’t helped by the previous government either.

The community that I grew up in felt strong; we lived in good council flats where people had security of tenancy. My mum lived in the same flat from 1954 until the day she died in 1997. The people who make the decisions now don’t see the need for that sort of housing, and the need for it is not being catered for by the private sector either. I don’t see the same sort of ambition that there once was in the housing programme – the private sector will not stump up for that sort of housing, and the government must know it. They need to be strong and insist that this sort of lasting, reliable council housing is built. But I don’t see them doing that. Knocking down the so-called sink estates is basically just a land grab.

Good on ya, Glenn. I’m proud to be a Squeeze fan. I’ll give them the last word with a song that applies to the Posh Boy. The truth is decidedly not his middle name: