After the remastered Beatles: the remastered Tories

Image of Notebook

Listen to this article


The entire Beatles catalogue has been digitally remastered.

After months of hype yesterday finally saw the release of the digitally-remastered Tory party, that group of loveable former elite public schoolboys known as the Etoles.

The ebsolutely febulous four – David, George, Oliver and Boris – have been through many changes of their line-up over the years. The Etonians plus George – poached from a rival band – first got together as the Torymen, a political skiffle group who discussed issues to small, fanatical crowds in a cavernous Oxford bar subsequently trashed by the Bullingdon Club. They stood out from the first for their superior haircuts, tone and dinner-suits.

The release of the remastered party comes amid a new upsurge of interest in their work after years of relative neglect. The Etoles – it seems – can do no wrong and Etolmania is once again sweeping Britain. Dozens of screaming pensioners are expected to mob the Manchester conference centre for the group’s first live performance in months. The group fell out in a very public acrimonious split in the 1990s which was widely held to have its genesis in then front-man Kenneth Clarke’s passionate relationship with Euro Ohno. Euro led him a different artistic direction from the rest of the group, none of whom enjoyed the same level of success as solo artists.

Many feared they would never perform together again and even Dave Cameron lost a lot of friends with his “We’re bigger than Winston” comment. A number of efforts to rebuild the group with different front-men failed.

But this week’s re-release – carefully managed to play up their caring, green side – will bring their work to a new generation and ensure chart-topping success.

There have been some complaints that the remastering exercise is merely a slick marketing campaign. The group has been expensively repackaged but there is little new material and they are still singing the same songs they were in the ’80s.

The new box-set does contain some unseen documentary material but it is pretty obscure. The highlight is a three-minute film of Patrick Jenkin chairing a cabinet committee discussion on welfare reform.

But all the most famous work is included. Fans will be delighted once again to hear The Long and Winding Road – a delicate ode to the driveway of Mr Cameron’s country house; Nowhere Man – allegedly about the party’s head of policy; Baby you can ride my bike (cos I’ve got a chauffeur now) and the classic You say you want a Revolution – well it’s rather inconvenient so would you mind awfully if we don’t.

In a photo-op to mark the release, the entire shadow cabinet lined up on a zebra-crossing in Notting Hill in a recreation of one of the Etoles’ most iconic images. After the stunt many fans wondered why William Hague – in and out of the group since the 1990s – had walked barefoot on the crossing. Some saw it as a reference to his earlier political death while party leader; others say it was simply a nod to his poor Yorkshire upbringing.

Marketing guru Steve Hilton – the man behind the digital remastering – sees this as only the first stage. A new computer game The Etoles: Rock Band will allow players to lip-synch along with BBC interviews as Dave and the rest of feb four try to avoid giving any hard-policy commitments.

Food stamps

Meanwhile it is good to see Mr Cameron getting to grips with the burgeoning deficit. On Tuesday came daring plans to shave a full £120m off the £175bn deficit by cutting ministers’ wages and charging more for Commons food. Terrific stuff – just another 1,458 spending meetings till he cracks it. Next week: cheaper toilet rolls at the DTI.

Living wills

Still a bit baffled by these so-called “living wills” investment banks are meant to be drawing up. The idea is the document – detailing the myriad parts of the bank – will aid in its unwinding in time of crisis.

But living wills are those documents specifying one does not want to be kept alive if catastrophe strikes. So surely a bank’s living will would say it wanted no capital injections or central bank help should it go belly-up. Perhaps there would be a few paragraphs about how no staff bonuses should be paid and then a detailed list of how its assets should be distributed; the Tokyo fixed income operation to my cousin Tarquin . . . and so on.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.