Chumbawamba Tubthumps NZ Deputy Prime Minister

21 March 2024 | 10:16 am | Mary Varvaris

"We have asked our record company Sony to issue a cease and desist notice."


Chumbawamba (Source: YouTube)

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British punk rockers Chumbawamba have told the New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to stop playing (and referencing) their 1997 anthem Tubthumping at rallies. The band also reportedly urged their record label, Sony, to issue Peters a “cease and desist” letter.

On Sunday (17 March), the New Zealand First party leader addressed the nation in his controversial State Of The Nation speech after walking onto the platform to Tubthumping.

During the annual speech, Peters reportedly outlined the party’s plans for the country, including getting tougher on youth crime, removing gender and sexuality lessons from school curriculums and making English the official language of New Zealand. He also “compared co-governance to Nazi Germany's race-based theories”, per RNZ, and criticised the former Labour government and the New Zealand media.

Last year, Peters referenced Tubthumping, telling the audience ahead of the New Zealand election: “I get knocked down. But I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down.”

In a statement to the BBC, Chumbawamba's former lead guitarist Boff Whalley said that the band “did not give permission” for Peters to use their song “to try to shore up his misguided political views.” Singer Dunstan Bruce added that Peters’ playing of Tubthumping was “egregious” and “not something that we could just sit back and let happen.”

Both band members mentioned that they had asked Sony Music Publishing to issue a “cease and desist” notice.

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In response to the band, Peters took to X (formerly known as Twitter) and said that his team “don’t care” about Chumbawamba and “We will be sure to file the ‘cease and desist’ letter in a safe place if it ever arrives.”

Whalley commented to BBC in a statement, “Chumbawamba wrote the song Tubthumping as a song of hope and positivity, so it seems entirely odd that the ‘I get knocked down...’ refrain is being used by New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters as he barks his divisive, small-minded, bigoted policies during his recent speeches.”

Whalley continued, “Chumbawamba would like to make it clear that we did not give permission for Peters to use the song and would ask him to stop using it to try to shore up his misguided political views.

“Chumbawamba does not share any of Peters’ ideas on race relations and would like to remind him that the song was written for and about ordinary people and their resilience. We have asked our record company Sony to issue a cease and desist notice.”

Speaking on BBC Newshour, Bruce said, “For this guy, Winston Peters, to then try and hijack the song and use it as part of his campaign, where he is expressing political views that I find quite egregious, I just thought that that's not something that we could just sit back and let happen.”

Referencing other times that “right-wing politicians” have used their song at rallies, Bruce said that Chumbawamba often respond by sending a “cease and desist” letter to “publicise the fact that our politics do not align with these people on the right.”

Bruce added, “They obviously see the song as a populist song... the message of the song is quite universal. It's quite easy for people to misinterpret it or to not know anything about the band who created that song.”

In 2018, Chumbawumba blasted Australian mining magnate/politician Clive Palmer for using their classic track, Tubthumping, in a YouTube video

In a statement, Chumbawamba demanded the video be taken down and called Palmer a "Donald Trump-lite egomaniac" and "a ridiculous narcissist". 

"Tubthumping is a song written to champion the resilience of working people, not to further a billionaire’s political ambitions," the statement reads.