Because The Culture Show is supposed to be about how contemporary culture reflects contemporary society, in her interview with (55-year-old folk singer) Bragg, Miranda Sawyer holds the current generation of protesters up for comparison with Red Wedge, and dismisses them with the same, wearisome line I’ve heard a thousand times before: “People like the Occupy movement, they don’t know what they’re asking for, they just know they don’t like it”.
I’ve said this so many times now I’m bored of saying it nicely: “they don’t even know what they want” is trite, kneejerk dinner-party nonsense of the first order. But to take the statement on Sawyer’s terms: if the protest movement was so robust in the 1980s, and its goals so bright and clear – and so powerfully expressed in pop culture – what exactly did that achieve? Either artistically or politically? Politically, Red Wedge knew what they wanted – a Labour victory in 1987. That went well. And artistically? The fact is there are old-school protest songs in the mould of Red Wedge still coming out today, about Cameron’s government: and they’re almost uniformly terrible.