A Rush of Blair To the Head


The UK political consensus begins to unravel, as Coldplay's Chris Martin stands up the PM:

Martin respects the British premier, but does not want to be seen publicly socialising with the leader of the Labour party, for fear of offending his fans who may disagree with Blair's political goals and stance over the war in Iraq.

He says, "I'm not going to go. I really like Tony Blair. He's interested in the same things as I am—he plays the guitar and he always gives the impression of doing what he can to help.

"But I don't particularly want to be photographed with him at the moment."

Perhaps Mr. Paltrow is feeling self-conscious after Brendan O'Neill's hilarious separated-at-birth column from a few months back:

Martin is the rock star Blair once dreamt of becoming, and Blair is the kind of middle-aged man Martin is destined to become. They look alike: Both have thinning hair and possess overly toothy grins. They sound alike, speaking in the stuttering, self-effacing, slightly slangish tones adopted by the British upper middle classes, who are increasingly embarrassed by their wealth and privilege. (The singer Dido—full name: Dido Florian Cloud De Bounevialle Armstrong—does this "slumming it" accent wonderfully.) Blair and Martin had similar upbringings: Blair attended the solidly middle-class private school Fettes College in Edinburgh, Scotland (which costs each student a cool 20,200 pounds/$37,000 a year), and Martin went to Sherborne School in Dorset (22,785 pounds/$41,800). Both went on to Ivy League universities—Blair to Oxford in the 1970s, and Martin to University College London in the 1990s—where they founded bands: Blair was the lead singer of Ugly Rumors, a short-lived, maudlin, rock cover band; Martin set up a somewhat more successful group.

Both have quirky wives who have reportedly turned their stiff British husbands on to the spiritual side of life. Cherie Blair—despite being a top barrister and also a devout Catholic—has become infamous for her dalliances with New Age nonsense: She reportedly wears crystals to ward off the evil effects of computers and telephones, and in the summer of 2001, she and Tony took part in a sweaty, muddy Mayan rebirthing ceremony while holidaying on the Mexican Riviera. Martin's wife, the Hollywood glamourpuss Gwyneth Paltrow, has been known to indulge in alternative therapies such as cupping, a form of acupuncture that seeks to ease stress by manipulating the movement of blood, energy and fluids around the body. Both Paltrow and Martin are now celebrated vegans, and apparently held a vegan feast for their daughter Apple's first birthday.

Coldplay are to music what Blair is to politics. Blair gave us the Third Way, a new politics of compromise and caution that was neither full-on capitalism nor socialism, neither right nor left, but something in the middle. Likewise, Coldplay have given us a new kind of music that is neither rock nor experimental, but something closer to the middle of the road.

Coldplay/Blair/cupping/earnest-political-progressive-rocker fans release the fury at O'Neill here.