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Thom was thinking of the Poll Tax Riots as he wrote this, the scenes where people were breaking down the gates of Downing Street. As well as being political, the song is also about them, travelling around the globe and having to sell their records to people.
This performance comes from april 4th 1996:
This is another recording from may 27th 1996:
'Electioneering' was recorded in the band's Oxford studio, Canned Applause. It is a tricky song to get right live, and for that reason is rarely played, but was played on the Tonight with Jay Leno Show in the USA on 25 July 1997.
Thom: "We live under a world banking system and media that make it almost irrelevant who is in power. Political systems worldwide are at the mercy of business and bullshit economies. I can't recycle any of the polythene packaging that fills my house. Why?"
'ELECTIONEERING'
Big, scary, searing rock track. Nothing to do with Tony Blair and his New Dawn for Britain, etc.
Ed: "Basically, it's about those times when you go out to a territory and have to sell yourselves and sell your record. You can meet some very cool people but, if you're pissed off or tired, it feels like a huge propaganda machine and you feel like a politician - kissing babies, shaking hands..."
Jonny: "We're not a political band, but we are all political people. One of the first thigs I can remember is Margaret Thatcher coming to power, so just the fact that it's changed is revelation enough. We had a hell of a party that night."
Ed: "It was weird all those people going down to Downing Street to mob Blair. He's definitely the first pop star PM."
Colin: "The first New Grave PM more like. He IS the New Seriousness."
Phil: "Where does that leave us then? Perhaps we're the Labour Party of New Grave. New Radiohead, New Danger!"
Key Lyric: "When I go forwards, you go backwards, and somewhere we will meet..."
Thom: "This is about being liberated, this is about getting beyond the dirge, they are all bullshitting, but I'm already laughing. On the other side, I trust I can rely on your vote."


Jonny Greenwood: Noisy, fast - Radiohead on steroids. "More about personal politics, selling yourself in a band".
"A lot of it's about disaffection," Thom Yorke, Radiohead's lead singer, explains. His blond scrub of hair has been shorn and dyed dark brown, but he looks, as described in one of his lyrics, 'fitter, happier and more productive'. "I switch on the TV, a there's all these irons and fridges coming at you. Watching a Tory MP electioneering, cheering wildly when someone threw eggs at him, but feeling I'd seen this once too often."

Yorke tugs what remains of his hair. "Economics. They fascinate me. Economics are the 20th century's greatest myth. There's been a lot of looking at headlines and feeling wildly impotent. Electioneering [one of the tracks on the album] is an incitement riot."
Ed: "We were having discussion the other night, I was talking to Thom. And we were talking about going back to college sometime. And he's got a real interest in politics and I think the whole… he sometimes sees the whole thing of being… going around and being on tour, shaking people's hands and meeting people and lots of meet and greets and stuff like that… there is a sort of similarity felt with politicians when they're on their soap box, or whatever, around election time."
Disregarding the song's more obvious global context, Ed explains the song in terms of the Radiohead promotional machine: "When you have to promote your album for a longer period, in the United States, for example, you fly around from city to city for weeks to meet journalists and record company people. After a while, you feel like a politician who has to kiss babies and shake hands all day long."15
Part of the performance of 'Electioneering' from january 17th 1998 in Tokyo can be seen in Meeting People Is Easy:

This piece of artwork features a line from the song:


In the midst of the lengthy april 16th 2000 entry of his online diary, Ed briefly remembers the painful process of finding the tracklist for OK Computer:
sunday, april 16th 2000
never again............that's it, no more..............not another drop of alcohol, in this case vintage cava, is going to pass my lips until next time............... i'm in the epicentre of one mutha of a hangover................ in fact the last time i felt like this i never drank gin again and that was 14 years ago.............it's evil stuff. my father rang to tell me i reminded him of himself when he used to drink a bit.........maybe hangovers are hereditary..........alcoholism probably is...........it was my birthday, we took the evening off and drank....and drank. i did a run down to majestic got the booze and issued strict instructions that no one was to leave until everything was finished.................and so it was......anyway enough of the fug.

we've been back a week after a two week layoff. finishing the large number of songs off is the priority.......and would you adam 'n eve it but we're so nearly there. nigel is booked into the studio on wednesday to mix and we start playing together/ rehearsing on wednesday week for the live shows, not knowing how the fuck we're going to put most of these songs over live.

so what i'm actually saying is that the recording part of this record will be finished in a couple of days......but you know if we're consistent in our behavioural patterns, then you might finally hear something in the autumn of '01............after arguments over track-listing, running orders, etc.........who'll be the first to suggest the quadruple album mixed in surroud sound? ....................might throw it in there myself to stir things up a bit.....the running order for an album is so important...... i don't think you have any idea how vital it is until you actually fuck it up which we did big time on the first record.....for 'ok computer' it was a nightmare, agendas had been set and at one time it was like bloody horse-trading............. "if you want 'let down' on the record then it only makes sense if 'electioneering' is on there too"......maybe it won't be such a torrid experience this time........somehow i don't think so and that's probably right anyway.

there's been a couple of articles recently in the press speculating what's up with us....the one in melody maker sent a journo down to oxford to snoop around......he or she was apparently outside each of our houses on a kind of indie 'stakeout'.... and the piece ultimately was very flattering, but you know this is a non-story............yes we go food shopping and fucking hell would you believe it we actually walk down the street in broad daylight........and what's more we've been known to sometimes break into a smile......the other was in the grauniad on friday, entitled 'why are we waiting?' again very nice and for the record, you won't have to wait too long now. but please don't waste column inches on mere speculation about when and what the album will be like.........all we've ever claimed is that the records will be different...... anyway if the truth be told we don't actually know. i've gone on way too long in this stream of alcohol induced consciousness and i must end before i write something even more stupid like offering that melody maker journo a handbags at dawn duel - see you at shotover a week on monday with your best louis vuitton..6am be there.

viva la lucha and good luck and respect to all the anti-imf and world bank protesters in washington this w/end, in fact go to thom's page and there are a couple of links to some relevant sites about what's going down.