Published 26 March 2009 · Main Posts the sound of Thatcherism Jeff Sparrow Michael Hann has an interesting piece in the Guardian about the reformation of Spandau Ballet: [T]he Tony Hadley homepage on his agent’s website describes the band’s demise thus: “As the Thatcher years drew to a close, Spandau disbanded.” You don’t hit on that formulation by accident. Hadley himself is a committed Conservative who attends party conferences and was rumoured to be interested in running for Parliament. And he’s definitely not at the Cameronian “hug a hoodie” end of the party: he liked the way Thatcher did things. But the link between Spandau Ballet and Thatcherism is about more than the personal politics of Tony Hadley. It’s about the emptiness of Spandau, the aspiration to do nothing more than look good in a nightclub, the happy embrace of style over substance. Billy Bragg has even attributed his decision to become a performer to them: “One day [I] saw Spandau Ballet on Top of the Pops wearing kilts and singing Chant No 1 and something in me snapped. I was waiting for a band to come along to play the kind of music I wanted to hear, and none was forthcoming, so it was that moment I finally realised it was gonna have to be me,” he said at a press conference in August 2003. And we still haven’t talked about the music. We haven’t mentioned the sexless funk of Chant No 1. Nor the oddly fascistic undertones of Musclebound. Nor the dreadful wine-bar soul of True, which was No 1 for four years between 1984 and 1988. And that’s because, really, Spandau Ballet weren’t about the music, just as chrome-and-black-leather furniture wasn’t really about sitting down. I don’t have the visceral loathing for Spandau Ballet that Hann does (but don’t get me started about U2). But because pop music is so much about attitude and style, particular bands do tend to encapsulate particular eras. If Spandau Ballet embodied Thatcher, Oasis represented the early, Cool Brittania days of Blairism. Haven’t really thought through how it works in Australia, though. What bands represented the Keating years? Is there anyone who stands out as a musical incarnation of the Howard era? Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 25 May 202326 May 2023 · Main Posts The ‘Chinese question’ and colonial capitalism in New Gold Mountain Christy Tan SBS’s New Gold Mountain sets out to recover the history of the Gold Rush from the marginalised perspective of Chinese settlers but instead reinforces the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty. Although celebrated for its multilingual script and diverse representation, the mini-TV series ignores how the settlement of Chinese migrants and their recruitment into colonial capitalism consolidates the ongoing displacement of First Nations peoples. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 February 202322 February 2023 · Main Posts Self-translation and bilingual writing as a transnational writer in the age of machine translation Ouyang Yu To cut a long story short, it all boils down to the need to go as far away from oneself as possible before one realizes another need to come back to reclaim what has been lost in the process while tying the knot of the opposite ends and merging them into a new transformation.