Reverend's disco hit funds electoral bid
THE sinful, hedonistic realm of pop music may seem a million miles away from the austere, forbidding world of Christian fundamentalism.
But Scotland on Sunday can reveal that an anti-abortion group contesting every UK seat in the European elections is being directly funded by royalties from Sinitta’s 1980s disco classic ‘So Macho’.
The song reached number two in 1985, sold over a million copies and still generates around 10,000 a month for the man who wrote it, the Rev George Hargreaves, a songwriter and promoter turned Christian.
Hargreaves, who hopes to become a Scottish MEP, is ploughing the cash from ‘So Macho’ into his radical party, Operation Christian Vote.
On June 10, Hargreaves hopes to win the support of thousands of Scots voters so he can go to Brussels. His party is a call to arms for God-fearing Christians and opposes abortion, human embryo research and euthanasia.
Hargreaves, who discovered Sinitta and a string of similar acts such as Yazz and Five Star, admits he lived life to the full in the rock and roll industry before finding God, and is unabashed about using Mammon to reach heaven.
He told Scotland on Sunday: "We have not asked anyone to put their hand in their pocket. This campaign is being funded by ‘So Macho’. And it’s the best money I have ever spent."
Hargreaves introduced Sinitta to pop promoter Simon Cowell, who made her the Beyonce of her day and dated her before finding his own fame as Pop Idol’s Mr Nasty.
Sinitta had a string of hits including ‘Toy Boy’, ‘GTO’ and ‘Cross My Broken Heart’.
Hargreaves continued to work with new music acts and wrote for the charts and television. His earnings eventually hit the six-figure mark.
He admitted: "I was a hedonistic sinner. I was Jack the lad. But there came a point when I looked at myself. I was calling myself a Christian but not living the Christian life. I read a Bible from cover to cover and I changed my life."
Ironically, he says he penned ‘So Macho’ not just for women but in a deliberate attempt to appeal to gay men’s sense of humour.
The inspiration for the song came from another of his proteges, a singer called Princess, who ad-libbed the words "he’s got to be so macho" at the end of another song she was recording in the studio.
"I heard Princess sing those words and I thought: that’s my next song. I wrote it that same evening. It was a caricature of the medallion man," Hargreaves said. "It was for women to dance round their handbags to and for the gay scene to go mad to on poppers," he admits. Despite this, Hargreaves does not accept the idea that his new vocation, which involves preaching on the sin of homosexuality, is hypocritical.
He added: "I was never gay, but I had a lot of lovely friends in the gay scene." He says many of them have since died of Aids. "Never in my life have I had a homophobic persuasion. I love the sinner, whatever the sin is.
"If you trawled through Scotland you would find some women in Edinburgh or Glasgow I was with in my pop days. I talk freely about these things because I am not ashamed.
"Now I’m the husband of one wife. I’ve done all the things people want to do, that they aspire to, and I’ve seen the futility in it," he said.
‘So Macho’ continues to earn a fortune for Hargreaves because of regular radio play, retro compilations of 80s hits and public performances. Each event generates a payment for Hargreaves.
After quitting the music business, Hargreaves studied theology at Oxford. He swapped his tax-haven home on the Isle of Man for a posting as a Pentecostal preacher at the Hephzibah Christian Centre in Hackney, one of the most deprived areas of London.
His next plan is to take the gospel to Brussels and he is top of his party’s list in Scotland.
Although his fringe party is not expected to have a significant impact, if he is elected the 47-year-old will be the man fighting Scotland’s corner on fishing, farming, trade and the environment in the EU.
He will also oppose women’s rights to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and lobby against children under the age of 16 being given contraception or abortions without the knowledge of their parents.
Hargreaves says his main political message is providing a Christian voice. He insists his is not a single-issue party, and that the pro-life stance is only one aspect of its work.
He cites Scotland’s crisis-struck fishing industry, crippled by swingeing EU quota cuts, as an example of the breadth of his policies.
"Jesus was a great friend of fishermen. We can learn from the scripture that what you catch is what you land. We should give Scottish fishermen back their fishing rights.
"I’m not saying all this to be populist. It’s in the scriptures," he said. Hargreaves admits he supports the controversial UK Life League, a radical anti-abortion group which has staged frightening protests outside family planning clinics, brandishing coloured posters of aborted foetuses.
While he is not planning any abortion clinic protests himself, Hargreaves has, however, picked a target for a fight.
Yesterday he formally launched Operation Christian Vote’s Scottish election campaign by holding a demonstration outside the Edinburgh headquarters of the postal workers’ union.
Last week, Scotland on Sunday revealed the Communication Workers’ Union was backing members who refuse to deliver campaign leaflets from ‘extreme’ parties.
The CWU said it counted the Christian party as extreme. Hargreaves disagrees but does not shy away from the publicity tactics of the extremists.
"We don’t want to be aggressive, we just want to get the message across," he insists.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North