Only hours ago, there I was, eating sandwiches and watching Blur videos (my preferred state of being, if only it could always be like that), when I wondered to myself: Whatever happened with Dave Rowntree’s attempt at public office?
Rowntree, the somewhat un-discussed drummer of Blur, had run for a seat on London’s city council last April, representing the Labour party in his Marylebone, Westminster neighborhood. I hadn’t heard anything else about it.
Then, lo and behold as I scoured for music news some minutes ago, BBC News reported today that, in fact, Rowntree has lost the vote to his Tory opponent, Mehfuz Ahmed. Coming in second out of three candidates for the Church Street seat, the drummer was 303 votes shy of Ahmed’s 955, representing 24% of voters.
Rowntree’s position was on the liberal side, in favor of bridging the gap between Westminster’s magnificently rich and extremely poor. “I'm a Westminster resident,” he said in an April 2007 interview, “and my experience of living here is that it all looks lovely … but you only have to scratch the surface to see that actually there's a lot of deprivation and inequality.” He had hoped to put people “ahead of big business and ahead of property developers,” he said.
His loss could own up to a couple of things, besides the fact that 76% of voters didn’t bother leaving the flat. One is that there are 304 too few die-hard Blur fans who follow Labour Party politics living in Westminster. Another is that Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, who is also reported to live in the area, has a mob-like presence, stirring fear in the hearts of would-be turnouts. But I don’t believe either of those is true. I think something far more subtle is going on.
And I think it has everything to do with Graham Coxon. Bear with me.
Coxon left Blur in 2002 following a dispute surrounding the band’s direction and Graham’s drinking. His last contribution was “Battery in Your Leg,” the final track on Blur’s last album. Other than that, he has had nothing to do with the band other than a couple of reconciliatory meetings. Damon Albarn, on the other hand, continued to play with the band before eventually turning to other projects, including his latest Chinese-inspired opera, Monkey: Journey to the West.
Do you see the connection? Coxon. Albarn. Monkeys. Clearly, Blur’s following in the Westminster area had sided with Coxon during Blur’s falling out. The reality of that shows in the fact that 76% of voters, undoubtedly all Blur fans, failed to support Rowntree – because Rowntree stayed with Albarn. In effect, Blur’s ex-following shunned Rowntree as an outsider to the group. And what species does this? Monkeys.
Even more telling, it seems Albarn was becoming aware that the band’s following would have this shunning effect (hence the Think Tank lyrics, “I know I’m not aware / but I’m getting there”). He tried to warn Rowntree after the drummer’s April 2007 foray into politics, by writing an opera in May … about monkeys. There it is, clear as day. Why Rowntree didn’t get the hint is beyond me.
Or, if you’re not convinced by this detailed weaving of logic and rhetoric, there’s also the more ordinary explanation that most voters may not have agreed with Rowntree’s platform. I guess that could have factored in somewhere.
Either way, Graham Coxon, you should just rejoin Blur so people like me can shut the hell up about it already.