A fusion of ska, reggae and new wave, Ghost Town, written by Jerry Dammers, and performed by The Specials was released just over 30 years ago, on 12th June 1981; it was performed on Top of the Pops, and on July 10th hit number one in the pop charts. Perhaps no other song so evocatively captured the mood of the time – the Thatcher government (which had only been in power for a few months, and which would prove to be an unmitigated disaster) was already deeply unpopular, employment was high, economic hardship was widespread, and divisive elements were growing in a troubled society. Ghost Town became the soundtrack to the riots that would erupt in many cities across England in July 1981, following on from the Brixton riots in April. The lyrics dramatically articulate bleakness and desperation:
This town, is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place, is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can’t go on no more
The people getting angry
30 years old it may be, but the song still resonates, and as another unpopular Tory (or ConDem, whatever) government holds power, is it possible that Ghost Town will come to again capture the mood of the times?