Conrad Landin

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The musicians’ choice for leader

After hearing that various trade unions had made recommendations for their members’ votes for Labour leader, I had a look at the list of those unions which are affiliated to Labour, partly to see if the PCS public sector union, with its vocal leader Mark Serwotka, would be expressing a preference soon – given their recent activity over public sector cuts, it would be interesting to see who they thought best to take on the Libservatives.

Well, PCS wasn’t on the list, but I did spot one which was to my surprise – the Musicians’ Union. I thought that like journalists and teachers, musicians might not be keen to express political preference as a whole, but then again why not? After all, one must go quite far to suggest that (like journalists and teachers) stating their preference presents a conflict of interest.

So I did a bit of research into who might appeal to the musicians. They each have their own musical claim to fame, it seems:

Ed Balls took much action on music as education secretary, declaring a national year of the art. A few points for that one, I think.

Andy Burnham
is a fan of indie music – and plays the guitar. And he mourned the loss of Top of the Pops. Hmmm.

Squaring up to Balls with his musical know-how is David Miliband, who must hear a lot of it at least, as he is, after all, married to Louise, a professional violinist with the LSO. He can’t be completely unknowing, therefore, of the trouble and strife (excuse the pun) faced by the musical community.

David’s brother Ed, meanwhile, had some interesting choices on Desert Island Discs, and has, like the union, managed to marry music and politics, with his choices of Billy Bragg and Paul Robeson on the programme. He might also get a few points for taking the C-change message to the Isle of Wight festival.

Apparently Diane Abbott was too busy to learn a musical instrument until a few years ago, when it seems she made a radio programme about learning to play the piano. Her dream, we are told, is “to be able to play a Chopin prelude in a public concert”. Many of the younger MU members would surely remember a time when they felt the same way, albeit at a younger age.

When I started looking into this, I thought Dave would win hands-down, but it appears they all have something to be proud of which may appeal to the musicians. Even if the union executive does not make a recommendation, the famous five shouldn’t forget that all the MU members have individual votes come September – so get practicing!


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