Thursday May 3, 2007
'Cos revolution changes nothing/And voting changes even less." So sang one of the original punk bands, The Damned, in Democracy, from their album Grave Disorder six years ago. But tired of this apathetic view of politics, Captain Sensible, the band's guitarist and songwriter, has now taken matters into his own hands and set up his own party to re-engage sceptical voters with the democratic process - starting by fielding a council candidate in today's local elections.
"The Blah! party is our response to lying politicians talking rubbish," says 53-year-old Captain Sensible, real name Ray Burns. "We're very much a protest party. There is a lot of disinformation about politics around and we see ourselves as impartial observers campaigning for straight-talking politics."
Formed in September last year, the party embraces democracy in its purest form, with members voting on what the manifesto should be. In keeping with the national mood, they are against both the Iraq war and ID cards. The money, the Captain says, should be redirected towards public transport, hospitals and subsidies to promote renewable energy at home. As you might expect with people's politics, some unconventional proposals have crept in.
Also on the agenda is a fightback against "chav culture and the idolisation of airhead celebrities like the Beckhams, Paris Hilton and Jade Goody", as well as a campaign to help deputy prime minister John Prescott lose weight - something the party believes would help set a good example in the obesity debate.
It might call to mind the Monster Raving Loony Party, but having signed up 10,000 members in less than a year, the Captain says he is serious about making a change. Their first electoral test will be in Bradford (home of their sponsor, Seabrook Crisps), where a Blah! candidate is standing in the Thornton and Allerton ward. Carl Finlan, 33, got involved after seeing an article in the local paper calling for a resident to stand.
The Captain certainly thinks he has tapped into something. "It doesn't matter if we get five or 5,000 votes," he says. "We just want to act as a vehicle to voice people's frustrations. A lot of them are putting their trust into an old punk rather than a proper politician. It says something if this is what politics has come to."