YouTube 'cos we want to: Bercow, New Labour and Obama

by Stephen Tall on June 26, 2009

Welcome to this Friday edition of our new LDV feature rounding up some of the best/worst/most curious political videos doing the rounds. Guaranteed Wimbledon/Jacko free.

First up, let’s enjoy new Speaker John Bercow’s well-publicised spat with ITN reporter Tom Bradby. Hard to choose between them who I feel least sympathy for, as both seem to be indulging in needless testosterone-charged irratibility:

After that starter, here’s the main course – Liberal Vision’s rather good 4-minute synopsis of the New Labour failure set to one of my all-time fave tracks, Nena’s 99 Red Balloons:

And finally for today – and yes, I know this is an ancient one now – here’s Jon Stewart’s take on President Obama’s ruthlessly efficient dispatch of a fly during a televised interview:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Kills a Fly
Daily Show
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I’d never heard of Liberal Vision before, but was prompted to look at their website after viewing the anti-Labour video.
Now, I may be a hang-over from mid-70s YL radical days, but aren’t these guys just crypto-tories?

by felix holt on June 27, 2009 at 4:34 am. Reply #

Several of them were Felix…

Wisely they made no mention of the very progressive goals that Labour achieved in its first term, but it has been severely downhill since.

by Robson on June 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm. Reply #

That 99 Red Balloons video is a disgrace and should be pulled from this site without delay.

Setting the World Trade Centre bombings to music? Even to the beat? And making images match the lyrics?


Remove it now. People died, remember, it wasn’t just a television show.

by Liam on June 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm. Reply #

To be fair, the video is typical of Liberal Vision’s output – mindlessly populist and with glaring oversights, as mentioned by Liam.

by Adam Bell on June 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm. Reply #

The 99 Red Balloons video is brilliant. I was really moved by the end. Labour have done so much damage to our country.

by Antony Hook on June 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm. Reply #

It’s powerful stuff. Two serious points, made in a manner that’s emotional, but not trivial at all.

by Ian Eiloart on June 28, 2009 at 7:08 am. Reply #

Felix, this post that I wrote may help explain why I’m not a conservative. Also, Robson is incorrect (according to the definition of the term) in saying that “several” of LV are ex-Tories.

by Julian H on June 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm. Reply #

I am the creator of the 99 red balloons video and thought I should seek to answer some of the observations made.

First and foremost I am sorry that some people have taken offence. To my mind however protest songs have been an accepted and effective means of protest for several decades. Putting images to those words is, in my view an acceptable extension of that practice and has indeed been used by news organisations, film makers and musicians to great effect.

The music was chosen with great thought. This is not some music-pop mush. The original German lyrics were about a bunch of balloons that are let go in the sky. Some people think they’re UFO’s, whilst the Generals, who see them, interpret them as enemy craft and start a giant war. In other words it is a commentary on how quick authorities are to the trigger armies, without first finding out the facts of a situation.

I see very clear parallels between this sentiment and the reaction to 9-11. A war waged on Iraq followed by a war waged on British citizens by its own government. If the video is at all shocking that is because what has happened in Iraq – and Britain with the destruction of civil liberties- is equally shocking.

The images were chosen with extreme care and after much thought – many, many pieces of footage were not used. I believe it would have been a failure to those who died not to show Iraqi’s being pulled from bombed towns, insurgents being executed, or dead soldiers returning to the UK. It happened. All the footage was genuine.

Were there omissions? Of course. It was a four minute video (there are only so many hours in the day) and I actually did want to try to stay as true to the lyrics as possible, leaving those watching with a sense of the over-riding message.

I am never quite sure what people mean (or think they mean) by the the term “populist”. If they mean ” a supporter of the rights and power of people” – which has always been my understanding of the word, then I certainly am. I am also unsure how you can be “mindlessly populist”…

by Angela Harbutt on June 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm. Reply #


I take it that you are too young to remember The Rock and Roll Years, a BBC documentary series, each episode of which set the news from a particular year to the pop songs from that year.

It covered the years 1956 to 1989 and consisted entirely of original news clips and pop songs accompanying original footage. Its content included the Vietnam War, the Sharpeville massacre, countless assassinations, Suez, the crushing of the Hungarian and Czech uprisings, the Miners’ Strike, the Falklands… More blood and horror than any person could wish to contemplate, all set to some of the greatest songs ever recorded.

It was brilliant and moving and I would strongly recommend that you try to watch it some time. It will change the way you view this style of political commentary forever.

by Tom Papworth on June 30, 2009 at 12:37 am. Reply #

If “populist” is “a supporter of the right and power of the people” perhaps “mindless populist” is someone who holds these views instinctively and did not need some kind of road to Damascus moment where they realised the truth they simply knew it from the start?

by Psi on June 30, 2009 at 6:14 am. Reply #

I think a “populist” is usually defined as one who does what is popular rather than what is right, or what one believes to be right.

I suspect every reader of this blog who is also politically active will have come across an issue locally where popular opinion is strongly on one side and the party or candidate holds a strongly opposing view.

In truth it is all too common that politicians succumb to electoral pressure and go for the cheap vote.

OTOH, the Liberal Democrat policies on Europe and immigration are perhaps an example of anti-populism!

by Tom Papworth on June 30, 2009 at 4:54 pm. Reply #

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