With what song would you open Liberal Democrat Conference?

The national convention of the US Democratic Party traditionally begins with Aaron Copeland’s famous, uplifting composition, ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’. If you don’t know the piece a recording of it is here.

Copeland’s music was inspired by a speech of former Vice-President Henry Wallace. Wallace was a liberal Republican who served in the Democratic administration of Roosevelt in the 1930s and 40s and ending up running for President on a third party platform in 1948 to the left of the Democrats, advocating progressive policies on racial equality and universal healthcare that were 20 or more years ahead of any main party candidates. His worst fault was a rosy-eyed view of the Soviet Union, which he later repudiated.

The speech was delivered in 1942, when he was Roosevelt’s Vice-President. Responding to right-wing calls for “an American Century” after the war, Wallace called for “a century of the common man”: peace secured by freedom, fairness and open opportunity for all. He emphasised the importance of education, science, work, decent living standards and strong nations helping weaker ones to make progress.

It is easy to see why our fellow liberals in the Democratic Party are inspired by Wallace’s speech and why Copeland’s stirring notes have been selected as the first sounds of the party convention.

My question is, if a certain piece of music was traditionally played at the opening of the Liberal Democrat Conference, what would it be? What would uplift us? What would remind us of the great purposes that unite our party?

* Antony Hook was a Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England (2019) and has practised as a barrister since 2003. He is currently Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Kent County Council.

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  • My first reaction I fear was to nominate the Hogwarts School Song.

    A standing joke about British Quakers is that the are rather bad about singing as they are always looking ahead to see if they agree with the words. Something like that might also apply here…

    However for a piss-off UKIP moment, the Ode To Joy as set to Beethoven’s music.

  • David Evans 5th Sep '14 - 9:57am

    I suggest Nick sings a solo

    “And now, the end is near;
    And so I face the final curtain.
    My friend, I’ll say it clear,
    I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

    I’ve lived a life that’s full.
    I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
    And more, much more than this,
    I did it my way.”

  • This seems very apt in the circumstances…:-)

  • +1 for the Land, or at least a rousing instrumental of Marching Through Georgia.

  • Jim Forrest 5th Sep '14 - 10:27am

    ”Alle menschen werden brudern…” I dare say we can find an English translation so the kippers get the message. We know they recognise the tune since they shamefully turned their backs on it at Strasbourg.

  • Simon McGrath 5th Sep '14 - 10:27am

    Obviously it should be ‘ Non, je ne regrette rien’

  • Nick Collins 5th Sep '14 - 10:30am

    I would suggest Dudley Moore’s and Peter Cook’s rendering of “Good-by”

    Or, as we are now commemorating World War 1, what about the soldiers’ song:

    “We’re ‘ere because we’re ‘ere because, we’re ‘ere because …”

  • Matt Downey 5th Sep '14 - 10:33am

    The Land!

  • David wilkinson 5th Sep '14 - 10:33am

    The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz especially when Cleggie comes on stage

  • Can I sugggest

    It was so right, it was so wrong
    Almost at the same time
    The pain and ache a heart can take
    No one really knows

    When the memories cling and keep you there
    Till you no longer care
    And you can let go now

    It’s wrong for me to cling to you
    Somehow I just needed time
    From what was to be-it’s not like me
    To hold somebody down

    But I was tossed high by love
    I almost never came down
    Only to land here
    Where love’s no longer found
    Where I’m no longer bound
    And I can let go now

    Dont know how to post a clip to the music video. but it is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNTL1Palu1U

  • Tsar Nicolas 5th Sep '14 - 10:34am

    “Money! Money! Money! It’s a rich man’s world.”

  • Forgot to add in my previous post that of course that would be followed by Nicks Resignation lol

  • Sara Bedford 5th Sep '14 - 10:45am

    Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ for three reasons:
    – it will get people dancing in the aisles
    – ‘We’ve come too far to give up who we are’
    – we need to…

  • Sadie Smith 5th Sep '14 - 11:02am

    Rather like tho Ode to Joy’ idea, though my first thought was The Land.
    Maybe one to open and one to close.
    Slightly envy Fanfare for the Common Man,, but it is taken.

  • Mark Smulian 5th Sep '14 - 11:07am

    What about the Grateful Dead’s Dark Star? Its almost un-singable so would avoid the problems of having several hundred people trying to join in each in their own key and tempo, and its about 23 minutes long so would conveniently take up all the time normally allocated to platitudinous opening speeches.

  • Paul in Wokingham 5th Sep '14 - 11:09am

    Yes it has to be The Land. If you want something classical then perhaps The Prisoners Chorus from Beethoven’s Fidelio – a song about freedom for political prisoners. There is a visceral intensity to the music as the prisoners see the sun for the first time in months. Makes you appreciate what a radical political thinker and polemicist Beethoven was.

  • Forgot to mention David Steel’s record…

  • Stephen Donnelly 5th Sep '14 - 11:54am

    We shall overcome? I had better get the mention of Waltzing Matilda out of the way.

  • paul barker 5th Sep '14 - 12:00pm

    We could use the ELP version of Fanfare, classic British Prog. Or the Steve Hillage cover of Donovans “Hurdy-Gurdy Man”.
    “Thrown like a Star from my vast sleep.”

  • Old Liberal 5th Sep '14 - 12:02pm

    I would suggest a new version of the Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel, along the lines

    I am just a rich boy
    So my story’s seldom told
    I have squandered my inheritance
    For a pocket full of mumbles like Dave’s promises
    All lies and jests
    Till the man hears what he wants to hear
    And disregards the rest

    When I left my home and my family
    I was no more than a boy
    In the company of liberals
    In the quiet of the EU parliament running scared
    Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
    Where the liberal people go
    Looking for the places only they would know

    Li la li …

    Asking only MP’s wages
    I come looking for a job
    And I get an offer,
    It’s a come-on from Libs of Sheffield Hallam
    I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
    I took some comfort there

    Li la li …

    Then I’m laying down my election pledge
    Wishing I was number one
    Moving On
    Where the Liberal Democrat activists aren’t bleeding me
    Bleeding me, moving on

    In the clearing stands a councillor
    And a fighter by his trade
    And he carries the reminders
    Of ev’ry leader’s broken pledge that layed him down
    Or cut him till he cried out
    In his anger and his pain
    “I am leaving, I am leaving”
    But the Lib Dem still remains

    Li la li …

    I’m sure the editors of the Liberator Song Book will be able to touch it up as necessary.

  • Steve Griffiths 5th Sep '14 - 12:05pm

    If there is any vestige remaining of the ideals of the party I joined all those years ago, then as Gareth says “The Land. Obviously”.

    However, in view of the upcoming GE, then maybe:

    Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

    Or even:

  • Paul in Wokingham 5th Sep '14 - 12:33pm

    @Steve Griffiths – perhaps rather than the Trauermarch we could fast forward to the end of Goetterdaemerung. Bernard Shaw (correctly in my opinion) characterized The Ring as a critique of the ills of 19th century bourgeois social order. With the apocalyptic destruction of Valhalla Wagner gives us the end of gods and monsters and the emergence of a world of men and women using that staggeringly beautiful melody that plays as the curtain falls.

    Or of course as our political leaders have proven to have feet of clay we could go for No More Heroes Anymore by The Stranglers.

  • Paul in Wokingham 5th Sep '14 - 12:37pm

    @Steve Griffiths – perhaps rather than the Trauermarch we could fast forward to the end of Goetterdaemerung. Bernard Shaw characterized The Ring as a critique of the ills of 19th century bourgeois society. With the apocalyptic destruction of Valhalla Wagner gives us the end of gods and monsters and a vision of a new world of men and women, set to that staggeringly beautiful melody that plays as the curtain falls.

    Or of course as our political leaders have proven to have feet of clay we could go for No More Heroes Anymore by The Stranglers.

  • David Evershed 5th Sep '14 - 1:24pm

    How about

    “I Want to Break Free” by Queen ?

  • I would suggest that if sampling is involved then this quote “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government” should be in the mix…

  • David Evershed 5th Sep '14 - 1:35pm

    Better still

    “I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone” by Jimmy Cliffe

    Very positive and uplifting

  • Bill le Breton 5th Sep '14 - 1:51pm

    If we have The Land, could we have the 1909 Budget as our manifesto, please?

  • We should play our biggest hit :

  • Peter Watson 5th Sep '14 - 2:19pm

    Can’t resist joining in so have to suggest the theme from “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?”:

    Oh, what happened to you?
    Whatever happened to me?
    What became of the people we used to be?
    Tomorrow’s almost over,
    Today went by so fast,
    The only thing to look forward to is the past.

  • @Caracatus

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    There are not many things in life that makes me smile of late. But that really made my day and cracked me up.

    I know it was at the expense of Cleggy and many in the party will not be to happy with your rendition.

    But it brightened up my grey day 🙂 so thanks for that


  • Peter Watson 5th Sep '14 - 3:08pm

    I agree with matt.
    Caracatus and Old Liberal have put a smile on my face with their updated versions of classic songs and I was singing along to them in my head.

    I have to wonder though, what sort of response was Antony Hook expecting when he wrote his article? Perhaps he has not read much of this website 😉

  • Joshua Dixon 5th Sep '14 - 3:56pm

    How about this…

  • richard rowles 5th Sep '14 - 3:59pm

    “It’s a kind of Magic” by Queen.

  • paul barker 5th Sep '14 - 4:58pm

    If we are going to be silly how about Traffics “40,000 Headmen” ?
    “I know just where my feet should go & thats enough for me.”

  • Any one of the classical pieces. One, you generally don’t have to worry about paying out for licensing, and there aren’t usually living artists who can embarass the party by going on air to disown any connection with it. As tends to happen when politicians use contemporary music. And two, because as has been said already, contemporary tracks just sound contrived when politicians use them.

    And no reference to the present situation should be made. Unless you want to have some kind of cathartic ‘Resignation of Nick Clegg’ panto played out at the beginning of every Liberal Democrat conference until the end of politics itself…

  • BB King’s “The thrill has gone” sums up the feelings of former Liberal suporters, members and voters since Clegg arrived.

    Peter Watson got there first or I would have chosen– the theme from “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?”:

    Oh, what happened to you?
    Whatever happened to me?
    What became of the people we used to be?

  • Jayne Mansfield 5th Sep '14 - 9:26pm

    Dare to be different – Donovan

  • It’s got to be Alice Cooper

  • Richard Dean 5th Sep '14 - 10:29pm
  • Fiona White 6th Sep '14 - 7:58am

    I was all prepared to be serious on this thread but some postings made me laugh. Can we have some versions included in Glee Club, please.

    Going back to the original question, do we have to rule out Fanfare for the Common Man? Surely we can share with the American Democrats.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Sep '14 - 9:56am

    With apologies to Stephen Stills:

    “Round, round, up and down
    Feelin’ lonely in this conference town
    See them sinkin’ low
    They don’ show the joy they used to know.

    And they cry. . .. from the misery
    When he lies….. they sing in harmony
    It’s all gone. . . there is no tomorrow
    It is done .. . .so now they must borrow
    The life of their brothers
    And living in sorrow
    Keep doing…… for the others

    A chill wind hits their face
    Was that a tear I thought I saw a trace?
    Loving people everywhere
    Where are we? We are not there

    And we cry. . .. from the misery
    When he lies….. we sing in harmony
    It’s all gone. . . there is no tomorrow
    It is done so now we must borrow
    The life of our brothers
    And living in sorrow
    Keep doing…… for the others.

  • Maria Pretzler 6th Sep '14 - 5:01pm

    Since somebody mentioned ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
    There is a rumour (alas, probably not true, because it would fit the outlook of the poet) that Schiller’s poem was originally an ‘ode to freedom’ (‘Freiheit, schooner Goetterfunken….) instead of the ode to joy (Freude).

    It actually makes at least as much sense, if not more, if you exchange the words.

    So my favourite would be the ‘Ode to Freedom’ from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

  • Maria Pretzler 6th Sep '14 - 5:10pm

    …. as performed by Leonard Bernstein in Berlin in December 1989.

    ‘Ode to Freedom’

  • Steve Comer 7th Sep '14 - 1:14pm

    I was going to suggest Down to Zero by Joan Armatrading, but I do like the re-worked versions of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Boxer! I hope there is time to get these in this year’s Glee Club songbook (and if they DO go in I’ll pledge to buy a copy).

  • I like the idea of “Freude schöner götterfunken” as the opening of conference, and closing with The Land.

    If you haven’t seen the flashmob version, I suggest wathing this:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbJcQYVtZMo&w=560&h=315%5D

  • Trying the other embed code:

  • Melanie Harvey 8th Sep '14 - 9:47am

    I wonder if Nick should respond and go for …..Joe Dolce’s (if I got that right) “Shut uppa ya face” given some of those selections!

  • This is one of the most entertaining threads I Have ever read in LDV.
    Thanks in particular to Richard Gadsden for the flash mob brilliant — My smile just got wider as Ode to Joy got into gear.
    Thanks also to Joshua Dixon for ‘What’s the point of Nick Clegg?’ a brilliant video, chillingly appropriate words and compelling music. One of those tunes that keeps the chorus bouncing round in my head — What’s the point of Nick Clegg?

    Can LDV have more music threads, please?.

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