Dead Men Left

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"Things can only get better"

My Labour Party conference spy informs me of several amusing happenings a few weeks back. Apparently, one of the highlights of the hectic conference social calendar is the Commission for Racial Equality's "Diversity Disco". This, as I'm sure can be well imagined, is a roaring slathering monster of a bash, attended by near-delirious delegates ready to shake off their Blunketted hang-ups and make like they're Tom Driberg, the Krays are in town, and it's a free bar 'til dawn.

However, I'm told proceedings only really begin to proceed when, preceded by feverish anticipation, the estimable DJ's wheels of steel are cleared for D:Ream's legendary "Things Can Only Get Better". This, as fading memories will recall, was Labour's 1997 election theme tune: after 18 years of Tory rule, it did indeed seem as if things could only get better. Neil Kinnock - poor old Neil - danced badly to it. It was played incessantly throughout the campaign. It was (and remains) an intensely irritating slice of mid-'90s crap pop, and it is a paen passivity: wait, dear frustrated voter, and New Labour will provide. How we all laughed, seven years and five wars later.

And how strange and distant Blair's first victory now seems; yet, as the first few bars envelop the crowd, a transformation occurs: the assembled Labour massive leap onto the floor, a-whooping and a-hollering, waving their hands in the air like they just don't care, all thoughts of besuited dignity abandoned: close your eyes, and it's like May 1st, 1997 never ended. No more Iraq, no more war on terror, no more Blunkett; no more PFI, no more "prudence", no more privatisation. The greatest irony of all? That this awful tune would fit Labour's 2005 election just as well as it fitted 1997. For after seven grim years - things, this time round, really can only get better.