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Liar Liar GE2017 - Captain SKA: The Song that Theresa May was not Happy About!


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"Liar Liar GE2017" is a protest song performed by a British ska/reggae band called Captain SKA. Released on 26 May 2017 by Captain's Records in association with the People's Assembly Against Austerity, and in anticipation of the 2017 general election, the song is critical of Prime Minister Theresa May, remarking upon her cuts to various government agencies and programs, as well as her political positions.

Who is Captain Ska? Who are they, rather: a London-based band made up of session musicians who have performed with Vampire Weekend, Paloma Faith, Girls Aloud, The Streets and more. Now of course, there must be someone behind, producing, and of course, someone holding the rights, but this information is not readly vailable.

"Liar Liar GE2017" is an updated version of "Liar Liar", a song released in 2010 at the time of protests against a rise in college tuition fees. It had attacked the coalition government of the time, led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The new version was released in the run-up to the 2017 general election, with an accompanying video that features music and vocals mixed with selected speeches and interviews by May.

By 31 May 2017, "Liar Liar GE17" had become the most-purchased song in the United Kingdom on Amazon Music and iTunes Store, and on 2 June 2017 it charted at #4 on the UK Singles Chart. Proceeds from sales of the single until 8 June 2017 (the day of the election) were to be donated to support food banks and the People's Assembly.

Despite the strong media attention and sales that the song achieved, it had done so without radio airplay; due to concerns that it could run afoul of broadcasting regulations requiring impartiality in coverage of elections during the campaign period, British radio stations refused to play "Liar Liar GE17". The band was particularly critical of BBC Radio's attempts to suppress the song on both radio and their associated digital platforms, as they felt that the broadcaster was attempting to inhibit "critical thinking or debate" rather than act in the public interest.

Writing for The New York Times, Dan Bilefsky explained that the song had "a catchy chorus and a not-so-subtle message", considering it to be "scathing", and reporting that it "appears to have captured the national mood." Conservative Party politician Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote that "The People's Assembly is a hard-left pressure group that has put together a rather long-winded attack ad of the kind that is more familiar with elections in the United States than in the United Kingdom ... I am not sure anyone other than political obsessives will watch this rather tiresome video through to the end."

On BBC Radio's Newsbeat, Theresa May stated that she had heard portions of the song and that she was not very happy about it, stating that "I don't think anybody would [be happy] when they heard a song about themselves like that."

By 31 May 2017, "Liar Liar GE2017" was the most-downloaded single in the United Kingdom on both iTunes Store and Amazon Music. It charted at #4 on the UK Singles Chart dated 2 June 2017.

As of 30 May 2017, the official video had been viewed over 600,000 times on YouTube in the six days since it was uploaded. By the next day, 31 May 2017, that number had risen to over one million views. By 7 June 2017, the eve of the election, it had been seen over 2.5 million times. Currently it has about 3.129.000 views.

 

Despite its chart performance, radio stations in the United Kingdom, including BBC Radio as well as commercial stations, widely refused to play "Liar Liar GE17", due to concerns that airplay of the song could violate broadcasting regulations in force during election campaign periods. The Representation of the People Act 1983, as well as the code of Ofcom, the United Kingdom's broadcasting regulator, contain rules regulating and restricting the media coverage of elections, effective upon the dissolution of Parliament following an election call. These include requirements for media coverage of elections to be impartial, the prohibition of political advertising (due to the party political broadcast system), and restrictions on election-related reporting on election day until polls close.

A representative of the BBC stated that "we do not ban songs or artists, however our editorial guidelines require us to remain impartial and the UK is currently in an election period so we will not be playing the song." Despite this, there have been calls for radio stations to freely broadcast the song, viewing the practice of withholding it as being censorship. On 2 June 2017, during The Official Chart broadcast, the band participated in a protest by the People's Assembly outside of Broadcasting House, the BBC's headquarters and the studio of BBC Radio 1.

In a Guardian editorial published 3 June, Captain SKA songwiters Christy Kulz and Jake Painter acknowledged the song's success without airplay as being an example of protest music "transcending the confines of conventional channels". However, they accused BBC Radio 1 of "going above and beyond the remit of Ofcom regulations" to censor the song by conspicuously preventing it from being streamed on the chart page of their website.

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