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Louise Mensch: I’m a Conservative who loves heavy metal – here’s why

Rock music and heavy metal. It’s not the first thing you’d associate with the Conservative party, I suppose. But music knows no agenda – great music, that is; I guess I think that Joni Mitchell types might well have voted Labour.

Tonight I’m presenting a documentary on Brian Johnson of AC/DC, one of my all-time heroes and Newcastle’s finest. It’s called Rock Icon and it’s on Sky Arts at 8pm. We had brilliant fun filming it in Florida, when I could stop laughing long enough to get the lines out for the camera. Brian is more of a petrol-head than Jeremy Clarkson – whose parents live in East Northamptonshire, by the way, and are proud local Tories.

But perhaps that’s why hard rock appeals to a certain breed of Conservative. It’s not into navel-gazing; it’s rebellious, anti-authoritarian, full of strength in both the beats and the lyrics. I know the Prime Minister is more of a Smiths fan, but he did once tell me that he actually saw AC/DC during the Back In Black tour when they played Manchester. Lucky him; it was one of the biggest albums of all time, selling over 50 million copies, and Brian Johnson sings on it. Hard rock and heavy metal are strong and celebratory. Not that I would dare to knock the Smiths (OK, OK, I would dare to knock the Smiths, even I am not THAT much of a Cameroon. I mean, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’? Isn’t that the most Lib Dem title of all time?)

In fact, our benches are stuffed with secret Heavy Metallers, like some hard-driving sleeper cell just ready to get out our air guitars and do some serious banging at any minute. Never mind that Nadhim Zahawi MP actually played an electronic instrument in the Chamber (his tie, by mistake) – there are metal heads in the Parliamentary Party who can put him to shame. The unlikely form of my beloved, respected former Chairman John Whittindale OBE MP, who belted out ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple at the all-MP end-of-term karaoke night one Christmas. The Valkyrie of the right Priti Patel. Mike Weatherly MP is SO METAL that he’s flown on the Iron Maiden jet piloted by Bruce Dickinson, and won a bet to wear an Iron Maiden shirt in the House, although decorum demanded that Eddie (the patriotic Maiden skeleton) be hidden under an ordinary shirt and tie. Iron Maiden and the party of the Iron Lady – yes, it all makes perfect sense. Tiz Coffey MP is a giant, giant Muse fan (not metal, but surely very rock – wait ‘til you hear their music in the zombie blockbuster World War Z).  Steve Baker MP is so utterly metal that I have seen him in the voting lobbies dressed from head to toe in biker leathers (it’s only the Chamber bit itself that has a dress code).

Meanwhile, musicians (although I’m sure they don’t share our party’s politics) are pretty interested in parliament too. Muse’s Matt Bellamy visited the Chamber during PMQs with Tiz and I, and stayed for a lengthy Prime Ministerial statement on foreign affairs afterwards (until we were actually checking our watches). My rock-est moment was bringing Jimmy Page in with my husband for drinks on the Terrace and introducing him to my friend Tom Watson MP. He’s a bit of a Clash fan is Tom. That’s a bit punk for me. AC/DC were around before punk started – and are still there long after they’ve left. So to hear the story of a working class hero pulling himself up by his black leather bootstraps, I hope even the classical fans amongst you will tune in to Rock Icon: AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, presented by me, tonight at 8pm on Sky Arts.


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