The song has a catchy chorus and a not-so-subtle message.
“She’s a liar, liar. She’s a liar, liar. You can’t trust her, no, no, no, no,” it goes, accompanied by snippets of its target, Prime Minister Theresa May, variously laughing, speaking earnestly and, in one heavily edited clip, apparently herself saying, “No, no, no, no.”
Just over a week before a general election in Britain, a scathing song lampooning Mrs. May for her perceived political flip-flopping appears to have captured the national mood, climbing to the top of the U.K. iTunes chart. Released on Friday, the song was No. 2 on the chart by Monday, behind a remix of Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber. (“One Last Time” by Ariana Grande, the American pop star whose Manchester concert was attacked this month by a suicide bomber, was at No. 4.) “Liar, Liar” has been viewed more than 597,000 times on YouTube.
The demonizing of Mrs. May echoes that of another polarizing leader, the former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was eviscerated by left-wing musicians for her championing of untrammeled capitalism. Among the unforgiving songs were the Beat’s “Stand Down Margaret”and “Tramp the Dirt Down” by Elvis Costello.
Mrs. May, who prides herself on a straight-talking veracity and a more compassionate form of conservatism than the other Iron Lady, has come under criticism for a series of U-turns.
She vowed she would not call an early election and then did just that. She supported Britain’s remaining in the European Union, yet is now overseeing its departure. She has been criticized for backtracking from new plans to finance care for older people, even as she has portrayed herself as the champion of those “just about managing” to get by.
The song “Liar, Liar” is the work of Captain Ska, a politically fueled ensemble of London-based session musicians who came to national prominence in 2010 with the first version of “Liar, Liar.” That was aimed at the austerity policies of the coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron. The band was founded by Jake Painter and the song is being promoted by an organization called the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
“We all know politicians like telling lies. Big ones, little ones, porky pies. Saying they’re strong and stable won’t disguise. We’re still being taken for a ride,” go the song’s lyrics, which take Mrs. May to task for cutting spending on education, the National Health Service and the police. They continue: “Nurses going hungry, schools in decline, I don’t recognize this broken country of mine.”
Proponents of the song have accused some broadcasters of censorship for not playing the song, including the BBC. The BBC said it would not be playing the song because of editorial guidelines requiring the broadcaster to remain impartial during elections.
“We do not ban songs or artists,” a spokesman said, noting, however, that “the U.K. is currently in an election period so we will not be playing the song.”
Not everyone agrees with the song’s sentiments. In a blistering attack, Rupert Murdoch’s conservative tabloid The Sun called Mrs. May’s rival, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a liar. His record on security, it said, “would make an honest man blush.”
Jacob William Rees-Mogg, a Conservative member of Parliament, was unimpressed by the song. “The People’s Assembly is a hard-left pressure group that has put together a rather long-winded attack ad of the kind that is more familiar with elections in the United States than in the United Kingdom,” he wrote in an email statement. “I am not sure anyone other than political obsessives will watch this rather tiresome video through to the end.”