MEDIAWATCH: Chumbawamba just Tubthumped Winston Peters


Oh damn.

There’s a burn, ad then there’s a Chumbawamba burn…

Chumbawamba wrote Tubthumping as a working-class anthem. We won’t have it stolen by the right

The beauty of writing a song that revolves around a universal idea is that people feel like it could be theirs: it voices the way they’re feeling. The first time I heard my band Chumbawamba’s hit Tubthumping played at the ground of my local football club, I was standing at the urinal in the toilet underneath the stands, pissing the afternoon away with scores of other blokes, ready for the match. I walked up to my seat and watched people singing along to what had instantly become, in that moment at least, their song.

Tubthumping belongs to the guests at the wedding who sing it in celebration. It belongs to the Italian anti-fascists who sing it in defiance on a demonstration. It belongs to cancer patients going through chemotherapy, seeing every successful bout of treatment as a personal victory. I know that all these people have taken the song as theirs, because they write to tell us. This is how songs become “folk songs”: songs that belong to our shared histories, not to a single version performed by a single artist.

There are hundreds of songs like this, songs that feel as if they belong to us all. When we sing Fairytale of New York at Christmas, the let’s-all-join-in spirit of it isn’t the sole property of Shane, Kirsty and the Pogues – it’s our song, too.

But there’s a problem with these universal songs – they can be hijacked by people who clearly don’t understand the spirit in which they were written, and want to use them to aggrandise themselves, or to sell ideas that aren’t universal at all. It’s like baking a cake and declaring to the room: “Here, have a slice, the cake is for all of us!” And some greedy bastard grabs five or six slices and scurries off into a dark corner, sniggering. And to stretch that analogy, the greedy bastard is the person that, noticeably, never turns up with his own cake for everyone to share.

Because that’s the thing with songs, with literature, with art, theatre, cinema, with most of the beautiful, creative, cultural things we love – they are very rarely created by those on the political right. The bigots don’t have any good songs of their own.

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…this is going to be glorious…

Which brings me to New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Winston Petersand his use of Tubthumping. The man is clearly modelling himself on the recent upsurge of populist politicians, these ultra-wealthy men somehow getting to claim to be “of the people”. Across the globe, from Italy to Sweden and from Jair Bolsonaro to Donald Trump, these self-styled “outsiders” are gaining power and popularity using slogans that appeal to ordinary people, slogans that make no sense when you put them in the mouths of millionaire careerists. Their rhetoric is anti-elite, and yet they clearly and definably arethe elite. Their popularity depends upon them playing at being just like you and me, the good guy at the bar who buys you a drink while you’re watching the football, who tells you the reason the country is going down the drain isn’t because of the multibillionaire corporate hoarding of the world’s wealth but because … cue a culture-warrior rant about immigration and snowflakes and experts and “I did my own research”.

Let me be clear: the song Tubthumping was written to celebrate the resilience and tenacity of working-class folk who keep fighting when the chips are down. It has nothing whatsoever in common with wealthy politicians with extremist anti-liberal agendas.

…I think Chumbawamba just told Winston to go fuck himself.

Winston drinks a Whiskey drink, he drinks a Vodka drink
Winston drinks a Lager drink, he drinks a Cider drink
Winston sings the songs that remind him of the good times
Winston sings the songs that remind him of the better times
(Oh Winnie Boy, Winnie Boy, Winnie Boy)

Winston just got knocked down, he shouldn’t get up again.


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  1. He gets knocked down ,,
    But he’ll just lie again,
    A pork pie again,
    He will not die again …….

    Winne the political Yo-yo of a man….. :0

    I actually give him credit for John Key’s ‘surprise’ resignation …. but he’s long ago pissed any karma for that useful deed away …..

    He’s sold his soul to the Devil ,,, and enrolled us into the United States of Violence

  2. Haha love it Martyn, spot on article & so true, thanks for sharing & the icing on Top of the Cake would be for the Chumbawama Band to sue the nasty geriatric Serial Litigator & petty, vindictive & easily triggered Winston Peters & giving this Fucktard a taste of his own Medicine? Remember Winston sueing Trevor Mallard, the only downside is the NZ Taxpayers would foot the bill just as with the Mallard controversy but too bad, at least getting a humiliating apology out of this scumbag would be worth it? And love the reworking of those lyrics?

    • Unfortunately, any lawsuit would come down to the rightsholder on the music, which is Sony Music. Supposedly they have sent a C&D, but they probably won’t go any further.

      If they don’t follow through then you should feel free to download whatever you want from Sony Music’s catalog off Soulseek, what’s good for Winston’s goose is good for the gander.

  3. I think they only did one album. It’s jolly good as well. Let me put my lager drink down and see what the neighbours think of it….

  4. A drunk uncle in his twilight years tries a new dance move, the Copacabana Chumbawumba Cowabunga BungBunga Tubthumping two step, before dislocating his shoulder and hip. Passerby Dr Reti, kindly offers to sign the elderly fellow into an appropriate residential facility.


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