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Opinion

Shaky and Carol – spearheads of the new Welsh resistance

09 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Shakin’ Stevens. Photo by polymath blues, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Carol Vorderman picture from her Instagram.

Ben Wildsmith

On the tenth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s death, the time seems ripe for a reassessment of the 1980s and how they shaped the world we live in now.

What times they were, as the postwar consensus was torn apart by a socially awkward woman with daddy issues, they threw up compelling images that signified our passing from one age to another.

From the death of working-class culture at Orgreave to the coked-up bonanza on the trading floor of the City, we have been served up a narrative that has Thatcher in the vanguard of inevitable change.

Cooperative endeavour was a pipe dream, we are told, that ran contrary to the individualistic fundamentals of human nature.

If you were fool enough to spend your nights in a working man’s club with a meat pie and a pint when you could have been off to Club Tropicana in a DeLorean then you didn’t deserve a pair of red braces.

Revolutionary tendencies

History, though, is written by the winners and it won’t tell you that at least 50% of Wham! was in the Young Communist League or that meat pies now cost £8000.

George Michael’s revolutionary tendencies are proving not to be unique amongst the pantheon of 1980s mainstream entertainment.

Who would have guessed that when Countdown contestants received a ‘D’ from Prestatyn’s Carol Vorderman, she was muttering ‘dialectical materialism’ under her breath?

Here she is this week putting her 750 000 Twitter followers straight about Tory claims on water quality.

Sweetheart of teatime TV

You’ll note that to find accurate data on the subject she had to consult the lead singer of The Undertones whose perfect cousin was unavailable for comment having been exposed for passing off fur lined sheepskin jackets as PPE under a contract awarded by Matt Hancock.

Ponder how the course of history might have been changed had the entertainment wing of 1980s socialism not been left to Ben Elton (an embarrassment to Bens everywhere) and Paul Weller.

If Michael Foot had cottoned on that the sweetheart of teatime TV could be mobilised to agitate the bovine masses to stand up for their birth right, we may never have had to endure a single episode of The Apprentice.

This week we learned that what they were actually doing behind the green door was conspiring to bring down banking cartels that extract labour from the proletariat without regard for the communal cost.

Cardiff’s Shakin’ Stevens has released an uncompromising work of anti-capitalist agitprop that has drawn approval from the Sleaford Mods and Ian McNabb.

Double denim

If the double-denimed king of Christmas discos is taking up the cudgels of revolt, we must heed his call. I mean, what more do you need?

We observe the rampant corruption and incompetence in Westminster as if through a telescope, trying to work out how much of it is going to affect life here in Wales and baffled as to how people like that end up in positions of responsibility.

We look around us at struggling public services and failed local businesses but are told by the London media that what we really care about is small boats, or whether Harry and Meghan attend the Coronation.

The wave of change that started in the 1980s is finally breaking over the polluted beaches of the UK and there’s precious little left to defend any of us from its consequences.

Wales never bought into the rhetoric of Thatcherism so it’s perfectly natural for our mainstream celebrities to be saying what sounds like plain, common sense to most of us. Remember, however, what Gary Lineker has just gone through.

The merest peep of dissent from well-known figures in England brings down the attack dogs of the Daily Mail to try to shut them up, along with the platforms that employ them.

Shaky and Carol are figures from the cultural centre of British life as it existed just a few years ago. They now stand as outsiders in a UK that has no centre and a rapidly diversifying culture.

When the reckoning comes, they’re definitely ours.

You can find more of The Shrewd View and the rest of Ben’s writing on Nation.Cymru by following his links on this map


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
10 months ago

Nicely done again Ben and as an Undertones fan, the ‘fur lined sheepskin jacket’ line is not lost on me. The wonderful Carol Vorderman was attacked viciously this week on GBeebies by Satans’ disciple (worth much less than) 30p Lee who is obviously concerned that he would be mercilessly hammered in a popularity contest between the two.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
10 months ago

These millionaire celebrities who sit in their ivory castles must be the right kind of rich people. And I always thought those on the left hated rich people regardless of who they were. Silly me!

Richard
Richard
10 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

Some people seem to think that it’s OK to get rich through celebrity culture but not by building up successful businesses which create employment for their fellow citizens. I know what type of rich people Wales needs most.

Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Yeah, the kind that don’t exist. In order to “build up successful businesses” you need to have equal access to the means of production and distribution. Have a guess who owns the majority of those resources in a capitalist society (and who will NEVER share them)?

Clue: not those who your generation have always told to “pull themselves up by the bootstrap”.

I see comments like yours posted by racists who think disenfranchised and poor black people should create businesses and get themselves out of the very economic rut rich people put them (and keep them) in.

Chris
Chris
10 months ago

You were doing so well until you introduced race into it.

Richard
Richard
10 months ago

There are plenty of examples of indigenous Welsh entrepreneurs who have built up successful businesses in Wales (and such black people too, how it’s “racist” to encourage more black people to do likewise is beyond me to be honest, the exact opposite I would say) and who have to coin your choice of phrase “pulled themselves up by the bootstrap”. We need to encourage more of them and do what we can to remove any barriers to them doing so if our country is to have any chance of a prosperous future. And just as a matter of curiosity, how… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Lets all live in poverty despising anyone with a few quid…

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

“Welsh” resistance!!! Ha, What an oxymoron, the fact you refer to yourself as Welsh, means you have already failed in your resistance. We aren’t “Welsh” – We are The Cymric Britons! And The heirs to the title of British.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Could somebody explain why the word “British” is so abhorrent? Especially when it was first used to identify the People of Wales!

Rob
Rob
10 months ago

I would say that the 2020s so far feels more bleaker than the 1980s. We have a populist government that is more right wing than Thatcher, a global pandemic that limited our civil liberties for 2 years, and a return to Cold War tensions. Yes tensions were bad in the 80s but at least they eased by the end of the decade with the collapse of communism.
Also the music was great in the 80s, the only thing I don’t miss are the haircuts.

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