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Defending Bono: Why his Tory conference slot made sense (Guardian Oct 9)


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Defending Bono: Why his Tory conference slot made sense

Putaside your Bonophobia for a moment. If being on the winning side helpsfight African poverty, then that's what the U2 frontman is prepared todo


True blue ... Bono addresses the Conservative party conference via video link. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

I'vealways been a Bono defender for a couple of reasons: the awesomeAchtung Baby, and the idea of a rock star using their fame for socialchange. This latter idea seemed both exciting and compelling.Subversive, even. However, I always felt there was a wilfulcontrariness to my love of Bono, knowing that my stance was pissing theright people off. Spending my adult life in an indie bubble, myBonophilia felt like it was earning me some kind of bizarre anti-cool.

Yesterday, I woke up bleary-eyed in New York City to find Twitter agog. All my indie friends, who already hated Bono, were now revelling in the vindication that THE GUY IS A TORY.

This, of course, is a troubling turn of events. Maybe not as significant as the Sun backing David Cameron last week, true. But if rock has any political clout whatsoever, Bono's presence can be a game changer.

There'sa few things to say here, not least the fact that this sheds a littlelight on one of rock'n'roll's dirty little secrets. Ask most rock starsabout their political affiliations and they clam up and change thesubject. You'd be shocked at how many rockers living in a supposedlyleftist dreamworld privately align themselves to the politics of greed.And it's no secret that Bono was recently ordered to shut up by therest of U2 for fear that the backlash might dent the band's money-making potential. You only have to look at the tax situation, which nobody has ever denied. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Edge did most of the interviews for No Line On the Horizon.

Exceptit's not quite as simple as that. Bono argues that signing up asAfrica's champion has forced him to surrender party-political bias. Asridiculous as it might sound, the idea is that he's manoeuvred himselfinto a position where he (or at least, the harnessing of his fame) hasgenuine political power, and that this global issue is bigger and moresignificant than the party politics of one country.

This is a bitlike Batman considering himself outside the law, but the guy has apoint. If biting his lip about Iraq and doing the George Bush photoopportunity helped get a better deal on debt relief, then this is whatBono was prepared to do. As far as Bono is concerned, he owes it to thepeople whose cause he supports to remain politically neutral. Anythingelse, the defence goes, really would have been egomaniac rock-star posturing.

It'salso worth remembering, as the leftie indie masses gather their sticksand stones, that Bono did pretty much exactly the same thing at theLabour party conference last week. And nobody turned the guy into aTwitter trending topic, then.

I do have some sympathy with thehaters this time. With the prospect of a Tory government becoming morelikely, this does seem like an unfortunate day for rock'n'roll. Butjust like Rupert Murdoch, Bono is a guy with big plans. And to achievethem, he needs to make sure he's backing winners.

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