"Roots" was written by Steve Knightley; according to Emma Hartley writing in the Daily Telegraph blog of January 11, 2009, its inspiration was "a daft remark made by Kim Howells MP in 2001, while he was a culture minister, that listening to three folk singers in a pub in Somerset was his idea of hell." The song actually alludes to this statement.
Like many songs, "Roots" was subject to both reinterpretation and misinterpretation. For reasons that had more to do with racially taboo ideologies than folk music, the British National Party identified with it strongly, and began plugging it on their website. Although Knightley and Show of Hands were not happy about this, they were told there was little that could be done to prevent it.
Race aside, "Roots" is about loss of identity in a world of urban sprawl, mind-numbing soap operas, and equally mind-numbing music where people are famous for being famous.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3