How to not know Israel even exists: A guide for Labour party candidates

STANDING for election for Labour? Could you trash your party’s chances by opening your mouth and letting Zionist conspiracy theories flow out? Forget the the country even exists:

Switch your obsession

Every nerve in your body is screaming for you to speak up about Palestine, and also air some long-held prejudices, but don’t. Settle on a different field of conflict, like the insurgency in southern Nigeria or the war in Sudan, and you could say anything because nobody knows enough to get upset. Nobody even knows where Sudan is.

Purge your mind of Israel

Six-pointed star? That’s just two overlapping triangles to you. Benjamin Netanyahu? What a fun name that is to say, who is he? A conflict that’s been dragging on for decades with massive loss of life which everyone is powerless to stop? Doesn’t ring a bell. If anyone would like to talk about Ukraine, you’re available.

Don’t even glance in that direction

The near-East, for example East Anglia, is fine. The Far East you’ll talk about forever, and exactly why is it that the government has made no progress on a trade deal with China? The Middle East? You overlook it, so consequently have no comment to make to a right-wing press realising the reason the Tories won the last election was Corbyn.

Stay off the subject of Judaism and America

Unfortunately the linkages between these subjects are permanent in certain left-wing minds: yank one and they all jingle. So do your best not to comment on American foreign policy or a certain religion which pre-dates Christianity, because before you know it you’ve trotted out a provably false claim about 9/11 and your career is flat f**ked.

Sustain a head injury

If all of the above is hardwired in and you can’t have a private conversation without suddenly blurting ‘Rothschilds!’, try to suffer a massive cranial trauma. Slam your head in a car door or let off a starting gun behind a horse and soon all coherent thought will be beyond you. Though even after a seven-year-coma your first words will be ‘free Palestine’.

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Spaceman by Babylon Zoo: Songs that taught you a valuable lesson in disappointment

LIFE is disappointing, and it’s good that musicians remind us of this with songs that rapidly descend into shit. Here are some classic let-downs.

Spaceman – Babylon Zoo (1996)

A whole generation was psychologically scarred by Spaceman. The version in the future-kitsch Levi’s advert with high-pitched vocals was excellent, but the full version is boring alt-rock sung by Jas Mann, a kind of Poundland Brian Molko. Luckily there are numerous remixes with just the good bits, so go on YouTube and it’s as if Babylon Zoo’s version never existed. Hooray.

Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Whole Lotta Love has arguably the best riff ever, and all is well until the f**king drum solo. It’s no doubt fascinating for drummers, but let’s be frank – it sounds like John Bonham is just dicking around and goes on way too long. In the Zep documentary, The Song Remains the Same, the rest of the band go offstage and literally have a fag and a pint. Shame you can’t do that on the bus.

Straight to Hell – The Clash (1982)

The intro is catchy and atmospheric and promises much, but quickly degenerates into a loose bossa nova beat with a tuneless tune and f**king awful singing by Joe Strummer. You’ll recognise the song because M.I.A. sampled the intro for Paper Planes – just the intro, note, no other bits. If only the Clash had had a time machine they could have gone forward to 2007 when Paper Planes came out, then back to 1982 and reworked the song, and M.I.A. could have had an 25 extra years of royalties. Simples.

Black Betty – Ram Jam (1977)

This rocks, until the lyrics start. Normally shit lyrics are tolerable if the music is good (see: everything by The Police) but here they’re just too distracting: ‘Whoa-oh Black Betty, bam-ba-lam… Black Betty had a child, the damn thing gone wild.’ It’s gibberish, and despite the various possible meanings of ‘Black Betty’ – a whisky bottle, type of whip, etc. – it’s hard not to conclude that they’re talking about a woman, so it’s probably sexist and racist to boot.

Inside – Stiltskin (1994)

The curse of jeans adverts strikes again. In the Wild West a hot settler chick is watching a hot cowboy guy bathing in a river – wearing his jeans, oddly – when an awesome guitar riff with a neat heavy arpeggio bit kicks in. However after buying the number one single you realised the verse was pretty boring and actually it’s all a bit overwrought. The Scottish band disappeared after a failed follow-up single, so at least their name was apposite.

Layla – Derek and the Dominos (1970)

Starts brilliantly, launching straight into the ‘electrifying’ riff, to use the correct music journalist cliche. However quick-witted listeners will notice the first verse is a bit bland, and barely halfway through the song segues into a nice enough piano bit, then four minutes of Clapton noodling away, ie. basically a different song, possibly by Fleetwood Mac. But it was the 70s and no one cared because they were all either alcoholics or putting coke up their arses.

You’ve Got the Power – Win (1987)

‘Remember the 1987 McEwans lager advert?’ isn’t the worst chat-up you’ve ever embarked on, it’s how this song came to prominence. The ad featured downtrodden people wearing rags trundling massive stone balls uphill endlessly. They use one of the balls to break out of their Sisyphean hell and – you guessed it – have a lovely pint of McEwans. Weirdly, the music, by Edinburgh band Win, sounds less catchy when divorced from the advert, just poppy and bland. The take-home message here appears to be: never trust a Scottish band you hear in an advert.