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by Rebecca McQuillan
18 December 2019
Comment: Have I told you lately I’m a Tory?

Rod Stewart at a Celtic game - Image credit: PA

Comment: Have I told you lately I’m a Tory?

Has he told you lately? He’s a Tory.

At least, that’s the impression Sir Rod Stewart gave to many of his stunned fans in the wake of last week’s general election.

In a tweet on Friday night, the singer appeared to indicate which side he was on by congratulating Boris Johnson.

The backlash was swift and unforgiving, particularly in Scotland.

‘Tories not welcome, f*** off Rod,’ said a huge banner unfurled during Sunday’s clash between Celtic and Hibs.

“Jeezo! Sir! What a lot of antiquated baloney. Four million children living in poverty because of Tory austerity policies will not be having a Merry Christmas,” tweeted one affronted fan.

“As long as you’re OK Sir Rod!” tweeted another.

“I have been a fan of yours for many years,” said another. “Loved your passion for Celtic. That single tweet congratulating Boris has lost you me as a fan and I reckon many more. Shame on you when millions will be devastated by this Tory party!!”

Some just tweeted damning emojis. They don’t want to talk about it, how he broke their hearts.

Rod Stewart has strayed into politics before. He indicated in 2014 that he opposed Scottish independence before opining recently that “if it’s good for Scotland I’m happy”.

But a back slap for Boris after an election in which his beloved Scotland decisively rejected the Tories?

He might as well have said he doesn’t find Billy Connolly funny. You could almost hear the intakes of breath.

Strictly speaking, the remark doesn’t actually prove anything. He sent it after beating Robbie Williams and The Who to clinch his tenth number-one album, saying: “Well done Robbie, well done Boris, no hard feelings Pete Townshend!”

Perhaps he was just being magnanimous, like the captain of a losing football team congratulating the winner.

But the chances are that the multi-millionaire knight of the realm is indeed a Conservative voter.

So why tell people? That’s the mystery. Megastars like Stewart whose work has mass appeal know that they have much to lose from expressing political views.

Usually when celebrities take a political stance, they do it in order to campaign for a cause that is close to their hearts, but Stewart’s remark came after the votes had all been counted.

Was it a mistake, an unguarded afterthought? Perhaps.

Or perhaps, one month short of his seventy-fifth birthday, he just couldn’t be bothered editing himself. Perhaps he just wanted to be honest.

Is that really so bad?

Not long ago, before social media took over the world, publicists used to mediate between celebrities and their public, preventing divisive remarks that might hit record sales or box-office takings.

Not anymore. Now fans have a direct relationship with their gods.

The price of that immediacy has been the shattering of fans’ illusions. But surely that’s better than the alternative.

Would those alienated fans, the ones who are editing Rod Stewart out of their driving playlists and CD collections, prefer that Stewart had hidden his allegiance so they could go on projecting onto him a sham idea that they found more comforting, a reason to believe? Isn’t that the sort of artifice people despise in politicians?

If Rod Stewart supports the Tories, he’s only acting his age for once. He’s only being honest by tweeting about it.

His fans may not like it, but it’s better to know the truth than to worship a false god.

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