Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How Does It Feel?

For those of us of a certain age, the immortal Dylan was a major formative influence on our lives. So we keenly await Martin Scorsese's documentary next week. And one of the best bits will be the notorious 1966 Manchester gig, when Dylan turned his back on the bearded world of acoustic protest songs and blasted his way into Like A Rolling Stone: electrified and electrifying.

'Judas!' screamed the folkie audience.

'I don't believe you,' he replied enigmatically. And then to the Band, 'Play it f****** loud.'

And you can't help thinking of this as you follow this week's LibDem Conference. The ever-dependable Matthew D'Ancona reports:

'The real split in Blackpool has...been between those Lib Dems...who want their party to have policies that add up, sound practical and look contemporary, and those...who are content to warm the voters' hearts with meaningless promises and dewy-eyed nostalgia. It is between those who see a future for the Lib Dems as potential governing partners, and those who do not.

When Mr Clegg talks about "breaking up" the NHS and making it more responsive to patients, he is not lurching to the Right, but acknowledging that the fate of the core public services and the value for money which they represent will be at the heart of political debate in the next decade. For Mr Cable to declare that "we also need to consider the upper middle-income professionals" when reviewing his party's tax policy is a sign of political maturity, not political sell-out.

This, it must be said, is not a view shared by most Lib Dems, who are screaming betrayal.'


We will never appeal to the bearded folkies who still comprise the heart and soul of the LibDems. And neither should we try. Let them continue with their gentle undemanding acoustic protest songs. Harmless and powerless.

But as this week is showing, those Orange Book guys are different. They're not happy. They want more. They hunger for the future of rock.

So let's not blow it by offering them more of that oldtime late-nite jazz. They need the real thing.

F****** loud? In the nicest possible way, obviously.


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