Former prime minister David Cameron once said that his favourite piece of film ever is “the last 10 minutes of Shrek 2”. His successor Theresa May said her ultimate viewing experience over the Christmas period is Holiday Inn, a 1940s Bing Crosby vehicle where the actor performs in blackface. She also likes the music of her church and 12th-century Latin hymns, unsurprisingly.

Does the personal tastes of politicians matter? Of course not, it would be a red flag if our politicians were more interested in flipping through records and attending Akira Kurosawa retrospectives than in attending to the people they were elected to represent.

But there’s certainly plenty to glean from what taste they do present to the public. The personal tastes of a politician can be a facet of their political and public profile. Former Tory frontbencher Therese Coffey clumsily forgot to turn her alarm off while live on LBC, with the cool plinking piano of Dr. Dre’s Still D.R.E. sputtering from her tinny phone speaker. A mistake, surely?

Mistake or PR stunt, host Nick Ferrari was impressed. “It’s Dr. Dre is it? Fantastic. Dr. Coffey with Dr. Dre as health secretary it just gets better and better doesn’t it?”. Calm down, Nick. Perhaps if her alarm were some haunted 1990s Memphis rap track then that reaction might be called for.

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Something is fascinating in the choices politicians make on Desert Island Discs, where Radio 4 asks its guests to choose tracks that they would be stranded on a desert island with. Politicians are either calculated in their choices, each pick reflecting the image they want to uphold to the public, or they’re honest, with all the contradictions and dishwasher taste on full display for all.

Labour leader Keir Starmer is one of the calculating choosers, with his choices seemingly being a strategy to appeal to all wings of the Labour Party. English football anthem Three Lions is of course included, as well as Orange Juice, Stormzy (a high-profile Jeremy Corbyn supporter) and the Artists For Grenfell cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water (with all due respect to the cover’s origins, aux cord privileges will be revoked for this one).

Boris Johnson is one of the honest ones. Not something often said about the former prime minister. It’s almost too easy to picture him listening to The Beatles song Here Comes the Sun to cheer himself up amongst a posh diet of Beethoven and Bach. There’s even the honest contradiction in his love for The Clash, defending his penchant for the politically opposite group with the fact that frontman Joe Strummer once sent him a letter agreeing with a newspaper column he’d written on hunting. Not sure that negates everything else Strummer ever said.

For all the amusing entries of Desert Island Discs, many politicians are stuck naming the first songs that come to mind, revealing the limited extent of their imaginations, and in turn their politics. It’s no coincidence that the privately educated political class at Westminster are all well-versed in classical pieces, and probably tragic that their desert island choices originate from a school curriculum. This trend cuts across the political divide, with the Labour side perhaps eager to throw in a popular chart song to signal relatability.

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But what about the politicians with good, or at least, interesting taste? The SNP’s Angus Robertson is known for enjoying the live sounds of heavy metal legends Iron Maiden and German rock industrialists Rammstein. The trade union wing of Scottish Labour has the punk rock record collector scene of the past in its DNA, with former MSP Neil Findlay listing an eclectic and tasteful mix of classic punk, ska, soul and folk as among his golden records.

The winner of The Herald’s Award in Good Taste belongs to Labour MP Richard Burgon. The former Corbyn ally is a passionate devotee of the extreme metal scene, listing such acts as My Dying Bride and Woods of Ypres to Metal Hammer magazine as part of his listening rotation, and revealing that he was in a band that played in the style of doom metal legends Electric Wizard but “not as good”.

The Herald: Labour MP Richard Burgon performing a rendition of Cannibal Corpse's Hammer Smashed Face, possiblyLabour MP Richard Burgon performing a rendition of Cannibal Corpse's Hammer Smashed Face, possibly (Image: Richard Burgon/FB)
When challenged on whether his passion for extreme metal was a distraction from his political responsibilities, Burgon kept it real: “This isn’t an attempt at celebrity. It’s because I love metal music. This album is not ‘mainstream’. And there’s no way it will ever end up on Saturday night TV. It’s too good for that. It’s too metal for that…”

Taste is certainly not something that should dictate the political arena, but a politician’s openness to artistic experience does prove an intrinsic connection to the human spirit, that their mind has the capacity to think beyond the cold, ugly bubbles of Westminster or Holyrood. A sincere understanding of art from artless politicians would certainly go a long way in preserving our cultural institutions and blossoming the well of creativity simmering under the surface of this island. More likely though, party political robots will continue to demonstrate just how little imagination and depth is truly at the heart of our politics as the music of Ed Sheeran reverberates around the cultural abyss.