On July 29th 1992, Nicky Crane – National Front skinhead and Skrewdriver roadie; who featured in the same Nick Knight photo essay as the V-flicker on a Morrissey t-shirt – came out as gay on the UK Channel 4 documentary, Out: The Skin Complex, that explored gay skinhead subculture.
On August 22nd 1992, the NME spent 5 pages denouncing Morrissey as a racist for playing 1 of 2 planned gigs with headliners Madness, at Finsbury Park, where he was heckled by a homophobic crowd (Select reported hearing them shout ‘poofy bastard’) while whiplashing a Union Jack flag (for less than 2 minutes before throwing it away) in front of a Derek Ridgers art print of 2 skinhead girls.
Despite lead singer, Suggs’s, skinhead past and old Skrewdriver connections, Madness was deemed ‘unfortunate’ for attracting the racist crowd. Derek Ridgers worried that Morrissey had demeaned the skinhead girls, who WERE racist imagery. And Flowered Up, another band on the bill, thought Morrissey had asked for trouble by ‘prancing around‘.
Most of the National Front supporters were outside Finsbury Park to oppose a march for a cause Morrissey supported; British troops out of Northern Ireland. Morrissey’s from an Irish Catholic family – it wouldn’t be impossible for him to join the National Front, but it’s unlikely given his obvious queerness and his mother’s keen interest in Irish history.
It just goes to show that nationalism and homosexuality do not fit in together, because Nationalism is a true cause and homosexuality is a perversion. Nicky Crane left, and I think that it was the best thing he could have done, but he should have left a hell of a lot earlier. He was living a lie for all of them years. I’ve got no respect for the bloke anymore. (Ian Stuart Donaldson, lead singer of Skrewdriver, 1992)
Even the idea that musical subcultures can be linked to fascism is dubious – The National Front’s most violent organiser, Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair was a fan of reggae band UB40 and his paramilitary loyalist gang would kill Catholics while listening to rave.
But still the NME lied that Morrissey was a British Nationalist, that his imagery was racist, that he was fanning the flames of race-hate, that Bengali in Platforms was a diatribe against assimilation, that it was supportive of (ex-Tory) Ulster Unionist MP, Enoch Powell, that it incited calls for immigrants to be deported, that he wanted a pre-immigration green and pleasant Little England, that he wanted an English ethno-state, that he was provoking genocide, and – in a technique that now dominates his coverage – they cobbled together so many snippets of lyrics and interviews spuriously branded racist that to refute them all would look demented; no fire without all THAT smoke. Even his quiff was racist for being a 1950s style. The past being ipso facto racist as if black and Asian people only came into existence in 1987.
And, taking their cue from The Skin Complex, they speculated that he had a sexual fetish for racism, that he was getting vicarious skinhead thrills, that he was using real men, like skinheads, The Angelic Upstarts, as a cover; and noted that ‘Richard Allen’s skinhead chronicles are full of sickening accounts of violence against blacks. And for that matter, homosexuals’.
And for that matter, that was their real point.
Someone must have watched it, got excited, thought OH THAT’S WHAT HE’S UP TO and decided to disguise their usual prurient, repressed homophobic obsession with his sex life beneath a heap of lurid faux righteous anti-racism.
Dr Dinesh Bhugra, a psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, speaking on Skin Complex, the Channel 4 programme to be screened on Wednesday, argues that gay men adopting the skinhead image is not surprising. In a society that is producing a tremendous amount of homophobia, you have to try and protect yourself by whichever means you can and if, in order to do it, it means you are identifying with the oppressor then people will do that in order to survive. (Independent, 26th July 1992)
Let’s not forget that the adolescent Morrissey used to be chased through the streets of Manchester at night by leering beer-boys, some of whom may have held NF sympathies, simply for being ‘different’. And he definitely spent a lot of time in Whalley Range, a multi-racial area. Is he now identifying with his former oppressors? Has he changed from the persecuted to the persecutor? Or, is he fascinated by the idea of racism, by the look of violent skinheads, to the extent of being oppressed so much he falls in love with his oppressors? (NME, August 1992)
Or both – Sire had sidelined the Smiths in America after Rolling Stone labeled Morrissey gay.
A piece in Rolling Stone claimed Morrissey was gay, completely contradicting his stand against sexual roles and their divisive consequences. “That brought a lot of problems for me”, he recalls ruefully. “Of course I never made such a statement”, Immediately their American record company, Sire, recoiled from supporting The Smiths. “They were petrified”, he remembers with disgust. “I thought that kind of writing epitomised the mentality of the American music press. That sicking macho stuff. After it appeared in Rolling Stone it ran rife through the lesser known publications, which to me was profoundly dull”. (Melody Maker, November 1984)
In 2001, Andrew Collins thought Dele Fadele being their only black writer justified the homophobia. The publicity around the C4 documentary had mentioned some gay black men being angry that it was hard to tell a gay skinhead from a violent skinhead. Morrissey’s quiff & gold lame shirt – as well as the description of him as ‘prancing’ & the fact he was attacked by the homophobic crowd – wouldn’t cause thatproblem.
(Also the irony of Andrew denouncing an Irish Catholic 2nd generation Immigrant for being a cultural tourist by holding a Union Jack – the UK’s national flag – for less than 2 minutes after the NME accused him of bile for the line ‘life is hard enough when you belong here. Morrissey doesn’t belong here?)
‘The skinhead look is a dominant one in the gay scene at the moment,’ according to Harvey Gillis, fashion editor of Boyz magazine. ‘It’s a fashion statement not a political one.’ Some black gays oppose the trend because of the difficulty in separating violent fascists from the simply fashion-conscious. (Martin Wroe, the Independent, 26th July 1992)
Sadly Dele died in 2018, and in a 2020 obit in the Guardian, the homophobia is written up as his greatest achievement.
[Dele summed up] the dark side of Morrissey... famously helped persuade the magazine’s staff to run its Flying the flag or flirting with disaster? cover story, which called out their most bankable star Morrissey’s dalliance with the far right for the first time. (The former Smiths man refused to talk to the paper for more than a decade after it was published; his reputation remains tarnished to this day.)… It was in 1992, though, that Dele played his most pivotal role. He had attended Madstock in Finsbury Park, the now-notorious gig in which support artist Morrissey draped himself in the union jack, a move some saw as a move pandering to the crowd’s skinhead element…Dele was appalled by what he’d witnessed… “It was Dele’s finest hour,” recalls Andrew Collins… “He wrote from the heart – and, uniquely among the staff – from an actual vantage point… It was a turning point for Moz’s provocations. Dele… gave urgency and weight to an otherwise hand-wringing situation” (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, September 2020)
Morrissey was saved by the success of 1994’s, Vauxhall and I, but battered by record company, legal, personal and management issues; and excluded by the music press from Britpop, he moved to LA and built an audience of equally excluded Chicanos.
In 2002 the NME mournfully accused him of giving the illusion of intimacy while never discussing his sexuality, and of being – ambiguous, unambiguous, brutally upfront and distastefully infatuated, with racism.
In 2004, You Are The Quarry, gave him a brief respite.
… excised from the hearts of many, horrified by the messy “flirtation” with racist imagery. (VS, NME, November 1999)
… nevermind the shaky accusations of racism… all those years of being Mother Teresa for the clumsy and shy and suddenly he was being reviled for crimes he’d never committed. (VS, Mojo, May 2004)
But his shyness, difficulty with social norms, and outsider art meant the press soon fell back on ridicule, demonisation, inflammatory headlines and witch-hunts.
And (for a spell) his public image has fused with the forgotten Nicky Crane – a bad gay; toxic, shunned, unwholesome; his empathetic solo work unbelievably conflated with Skrewdriver.
Side Note: Nicky Crane’s Showbiz Career
NAZI FARTSY : Earsay’s snippets (Channel 4) on Genesis P-Orridge et al featured an unexpected guest – a certain Nicola Crane. Crane, the neo-Nazi who by a series of errors made the front cover of ‘Strength Thru Oi’, turned out to be one of the ‘stars’ of a Psychic TV video film. Let’s hope the media are as quick to condemn this obviously deliberate airing for Crane as they were with that accidental airing three years ago. (Sounds, 22nd September 1984)
Side Note 2: Before the NME’s false allegations, the issue at Finsbury Park was Morrissey’s masculinity.
…to the gold lame flounce of Morrissey, who, having replaced The Farm, was accorded the proverbial ‘mixed reaction’ for his trouble. But then, Morrissey has never been exactly the most blokeish of performers. (Andy Gill, 9th August 1992, The Independent)
Side Note 3: Nicky was on the gay scene from 1984, made gay porn films, attacked a benefit gig that had the Smiths on the bill & drank in a gay pub, The Bell, in Kings Cross that Morrissey also frequented. The video for Our Frank, directed by gay filmmaker John Maybury, used skinhead extras & was shot around Kings Cross.
Side Note 4: the NME’s claim they were just as hard on Eric Clapton, David Bowie & Elvis Costello is untrue.
Eric sailed past an anti-racist letter appealing to his better self into 1980s rock aristocracy while still supporting Enoch Powell. The worst it got for David Bowie was the NME faking the picture of a Nazi salute that became gossipy rocklore (although it might be significant that he dropped his gay alien persona for something more hetero). And the NME refused to believe that Elvis Costello could mean it when he called James Brown a “jive-arsed n——” and Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant n——.”
Side Note 5: The Union Jack is ubiquitous in UK culture – at no point in our history has it ever been a clear signal of fascism or has it needed to be reclaimed from the far right, nevermind from Morrissey. Some comrades on the hard left hate it as a symbol of the British Empire, but that’s a minority opinion.
Skinheads were a working-class subculture that spanned the political spectrum and listened to Reggae, Punk and their variants. They had widespread coverage in the press, including in the NME.
The NME’s coverage of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland:
Morrissey was born into an Irish Catholic family, grew up as part of the minority Irish Catholic community and lived between Dublin and Manchester. He talked about his struggles to belong and make sense of his Irish and English identity in light of Ireland’s colonisation by England/the British Empire. He comforted himself with the idea that even if he felt out of place, English people also had life hard. And he knew the pain of parting as family members moved abroad.
It was a constant confusion to me why I never really felt ‘This is my patch. This is my home. I know these people. I can do what I like, because this is mine.’ It never was. I could never walk easily. (Morrissey, Melody Maker, September 1986)
… my sister and I growing up, never really felt we were Mancunians. My Irishness was never something I hid or camouflaged. I grew up in a strong Irish community. Of course, early on I’d be teased about it, I was called `Paddy’ from an early age… this was back in the 1960s when it was a bitter and malevolent slur. But that’s how Manchester people are – they’re extremely critical of everything and everybody… I used to come back to Dublin… the people seemed happier and more carefree and Crumlin seemed so open – certainly more so than the confines of Hulme. We were quite happy to ghettoise ourselves as the Irish community in Manchester, the Irish stuck rigidly together. (Morrissey, Irish Times, 20 November 1999) https://www.irishtimes.com/news/paddy-english-man-part-1-1.252576
Obviously the Irish feel resentment towards England because England has historically been so appalling to Ireland. So it was somewhat confusing for me growing up… England has been a bully and is a bully. (Morrissey, Mojo, June 2004)
We had waved goodbye to Mary at Manchester Airport, a US emigree in her nineteenth year, and to never again be a Manchester lass. We all cry uncontrollably as Mary’s flight is called – a much loved branch hacked away. (Morrissey, Autobiography, 2013)
In Viva Hate every protagonist is dislocated in some way, and they’re all harried. Bengali in Platforms is consistent with the album, his lived experience of not fitting in, & Ireland’s vein of wistful, bittersweet, cautionary songs about the ‘curse of emigration’.
The NME said it was a “convoluted diatribe against assimilation” (22 August 1992) and reprinted Q’s assessment from March 1988 that: In Morrissey’s mind, (‘Bengali In Platforms’) may be a profound statement about personal alienation, but unfortunately it would go down very well at a singalong after a National Front picnic.
David Stubbs, thought all black and Asian people were interchangeable, and hit on the Irish stereotype of the Thick Paddy.
The appalling Bengali In Platforms, quintessentially Morrissey, Morrissey the Diana Ross hating Morrissey… dumb… embarrassing… a caring call to the sartorially inept Asian… appallingly patronising… deals with an outmoded stereotype… [should be about] the snappily-dressed Punjabi…. [Morrissey is] our last idiot. (David Stubbs, Melody Maker, 19 March 1988)
Along with temper, aggressiveness, deceit and a natural penchant for alcohol, one of the oldest and most enduring putative characteristics of the Irishman was his atavistic ignorance or, at best, his inveterate illogicality. The Irishman’s intellectual deficit, characterised by bulls, blunders and malapropisms, made him a lamentable figure of fun. (James McCabe, Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2008) https://books.openedition.org/pufr/5076
A consensus formed that Morrissey was telling immigrants to get out of the country.
the lyrics toBengali In Platforms (“It’s hard enough when you belong here” – implication: you don’t) had long rubbed liberals up the wrong way, even though he was simpy addressing what he’d seen around him in multicultural Manchester. (Andrew Collins, his blog, 28 November 2007)
And that he was nostalgic for “an enclosed world that ends in roughly 1964, at some sort of point just before large-scale migration from the cotton districts of south Asia into the cotton districts of the North West of England” (Owen Hatherley, Verso, 31 March 2020).
In fact, South Asians arrived in the 1950s, and lived in the same immigrant slums as the Irish. And it was those immigrant slums that Morrissey was nostalgic for, never recovering from the trauma of the slum clearances, as communities were ripped apart by nice, well-meaning, middle-class people for their own good, and exiled into “ugly new houses”.
In a way it was like having one’s childhood wiped away. In Queen’s Square, my grandmother occupied the fourth house. We occupied the fifth house. And the sixth house was occupied by my mother’s sister and her family. So it was a very strong community and it was very tight. Very solid. And it was also quite happy. Well there’s nothing at Queen’s Square now… everything has just vanished. It’s just like the whole thing has been completely erased from the face of the earth. I feel great anger. I feel massive sadness. It’s like a complete loss of childhood. Because although I’ve always lived in Manchester, and I’ve always lived relatively close to here, to this part of Manchester, now… it’s just so foreign to me. And that’s quite sad, I think. (Morrissey, Oxford Road Show, BBC 2, 22 March 1985)
In the Smiths his nostalgia was part of his oddity – because he was camp (the gay antiques dealer being a common stereotype) or because he was a nerd obsessively collecting pictures of old dead film stars, or a congenital idiot.
We afford [Morrissey] the sort of license that’s normally extended to children and idiots; sensing the presence of an innocence and simplicity that’s been civilised out of the rest of us. (Paul Du Noyer, NME, 16 February 1985)
The accusation that he’s nostalgic for a Green and Pleasant, white, Nationalist, Little England comes from the NME’s 1992 homophobic hit piece.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating England or Britain… but… once you start cavorting with the Union Jack, with all its ambiguities, and surrounding yourself with the paraphernalia and imagery of the skinhead cult, then that celebration has moved… into… dangerous territory. And that territory is not the green and pleasant land of Morrissey’s dreams... “Take me back to dear old Blighty…” So sang Cicely Courtneidge in The L-Shaped Room, as grafted onto the evocative intro to ‘The Queen Is Dead”s opening title track. The ’60s kitchen sink movie is one of Morrissey’s pet favourites; the use of the patriotic pub singalong a mere atmosphere-setting quirk on an album littered with ambiguous pro/anti-nationalist signals. But, as ever with the controversy-courting bard of Whalley Range, it conjures images of Old England, Dunkirk spirit, British bulldog nostalgia and — stop us if you’ve heard this one before… (NME, 22 August 1992)
Morrissey advocates a cricket green England, an England where we tolerate immigration in small numbers, an England where it’s exotic to have a ‘brown’ neighbour… ‘Shelve your Western plans’ is a synonym for ‘England for the English’. It’s ‘go home P***’ in more poetic language with a prettier tune. (Martin Rossiter, the Quietus, 26 May 2017)
After that any reference to England in his work was heavily policed and maligned.
We are, this time round, spared any dubious songs about Bengalis who don’t belong here or visits to fascist discos. (“I didn’t invent the Union Jack” he sulked to a journalist recently, adding that he “didn’t understand the fascist implications of it”. Morrissey didn’t invent being an issue-fudging twat either.) There are no ballads. The twinkling insouciance of ‘Kill Uncle’ and the razor glam of ‘Your Arsenal’ are absent. Instead, Moz and the gang give RCA what they want, which is a loud mess to sell to America… In the end, there’s no reason why anyone who already owns a record made by Morrissey – or, more particularly, The Smiths – should even want to hear this record, let alone buy it. Its maker should call himself The Morrissey Formerly Known As Artiste. (David Quantick, NME, August 1995)
Certainly, the paper-thin caricature Englishness of much of Maladjusted is likely to go down much better with Americans, for whom the title-track’s mentions of the Fulham Road and “a Stevenage overspill” might yet retain a little declasse glamour. (Andy Gill, the Independent, August 1997)
In an era when every other UK artist was dripping in Union Jacks he was disparaged for writing a gay love song set in a part of London where he had lived.
Your leg came to rest against mine Then you lounged with knees up and apart And me and my heart, we knew We just knew For evermore Where taxi drivers never stop talking Under slate grey Victorian sky Here you’ll find, my heart and I And still we say come back Come back to Camden And I’ll be good, I’ll be good, I’ll be good, I’ll be good (Morrissey, lyrics Come Back to Camden, from the album You Are The Quarry, 2004)
The Smiths currently cast a longer shadow over British alt-rock than at any time since their 1987 split. You can hear their echoes in Franz Ferdinand and British Sea Power, while the Libertines appear to have been formed specifically to appeal to Morrissey: songs about a lost Albion and an on-stage penchant for gorblimey shirts-off male-bonding that frequently leaves them looking less like a rock band than something invented by Joe Orton… the lyrics seem trapped in the past: not the mythic pre-Beatles England that Morrissey’s songs usually evoke, but the less romantic environs of the mid-1990s… Irish Blood, English Heart makes a fuss about “standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or partial”, unaware that everyone else worked that one out around the time Geri Halliwell turned up at the Brits wearing a union flag miniskirt. Come Back to Camden offers a vision of Englishness so caricatured it would have caused the lowliest Britpopper to scoff: cockney cabbies, bad weather, tea. The urge to hit fast-forward before he mentions bowler hats, Yorkshire pudding or lovable chimney sweeps is quelled only by the song’s enrapturing melody. (Alex Petridis, the Guardian, May 2004)
A song about his clashing Irish-English identity had the Irish erased.
There’s a perfectly good anti-racist argument for allowing English ethnicity to speak its name, after all. The assumptions (expressed sotto voice, but unmistakably there) behind so much multi-culturalism weirdly duplicate those of imperialism: other people have ‘cultures’; we are normal. (Mark Fisher, K-Punk, July 2004) http://k-punk.org/slate-grey-victorian-sky/
This is the sort of ambiguous comment which seems to invite an assenting nod of the head but could easily have been uttered by Nigel Farage. Similarly, ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’, in which he sang, I’ve been dreaming of a time when/ To be English is not to be baneful /To be standing by the flag not feeling shameful/ Racist or partial/ Irish blood, English heart, this I’m made of /There is no one on earth I’m afraid of/ And I will die with both of my hands untied.” Ever since then, dog whistle by increasingly unsubtle dog whistle, living in splendid isolation from his home country and the consequences of his remarks, Morrissey has put himself beyond, and further beyond the pale. (David Stubbs, the Quietus, 4 July 2019)
Aptly the pale was a fence around English controlled areas of Ireland – beyond it was the savage Irish.
Morrissey was both cast out of & made to represent everything evil and wrong about England & the British Empire.
Morrissey is now, of course, almost a stateless person, although his seven years in Los Angeles don’t appear to have brought any great insight into either his new homeland or his old one. (Andy Gill, the Independent, 14 May 2004)
Morrissey has long since ceased to be worthy of cultural assessment; he no longer deserves to be part of that conversation. He has come to represent… something nasty, reactionary and dangerous in our culture, a poisonous voice at this critical point in Britain’s island history. Something has hardened like a tumour inside him over the years; what was once whimsical, amusing, pop-culturally apposite, is now the stuff of disease. (David Stubbs, the Quietus, 4 July 2019)
There followed the usual trawls through his cuttings file, where plenty of material awaited. From 1986: “To get on Top Of The Pops these days one has to be, by law, black.” Circa 1992: “I don’t really think … black people and white people will ever really get on or like each other.” And what about this peach, uttered three years ago? “The higher the influx into England, the more the British identity disappears.” As ugly as they seem – and to be more generous than he perhaps deserves – his views are not a matter of vicious, programmatic racism, but the same thinking that lies behind the more hard-bitten calls to Radio 4’s Any Answers: achingly conservative, terrified of difference, and in mourning for a lost country even the angriest white man might not actually like to live in... Unlike plenty of other genres, its practitioners tend to pride themselves on an inclusive, liberal outlook, seen in an admirable campaign called Love Music Hate Racism (to which Morrissey made a donation in 2008, after the hoo-ha about his views on “British identity”). Indie’s home turf is urban bohemia, where diversity and difference are taken as read. But in his own gruesome way Morrissey embodies its contradictory collective id: a bundle of conservatism, parochialism and generic navel-gazing... In keeping with his catholic tastes, Albarn – a passionate fan of the music of west Africa – was performing alongside Bobby Womack, the rap trio De La Soul, and Snoop Dogg, but swarms of people soon departed the main arena in search of something more comforting. Presumably they were after some of the plodding, conservative fare that defines most of the rock aristocracy, and is an obligatory part of the outdoor ritual. Morrissey, it’s fair to say, would have gone down a storm. (John Harris, the Guardian, Thu 9 Sep 2010) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/sep/09/morrissey-race-indie-back-yard
Morrissey is an extreme example of a common type [Fascist… a proudly racist Little-Englander… with] a nostalgia for misery, a longing for boredom… The ignorance. The pollution and the soot. The gay-bashing and the paki-bashing. The murders on the Moors… And who stands in the way of this self-aggrandisement through re-enactment? The Asians, especially the Muslims. The young. The left. The “woke”. And here, Morrissey is truly the voice of a generation. (Owen Hatherley, Verso, 31 March 2019)
And his work was stolen for the enrichment of the culture he was excluded from.
… you might have realised that our traditional national identity is crumbling around us. Any sense of imperialist superiority is disintegrating with every export barred or expat shipped home. Start a conversation with anyone with a Union Jack in their Twitter handle and you might be surprised at how little grace, discernment and gallantry ensues. Divided, exploited and at each other’s throats, we’ve so lost sight of who we are as a nation that we’re in danger of winning an international footballing semi-final on penalties. Which is why we should be protecting our prime cultural treasures at all costs. Exhibit one: The Smiths. Misery, isolation, melodic moaning, idolising American film stars and mainlining Coronation Street – could there be a more quintessentially British band? Yet over the years their legacy has been tainted by Morrissey’s support for far-right politics (among other pronouncements) and one of our greatest musical achievements has been at risk of being tipped into the ‘consequence culture’ canal. (Mark Beaumont, NME, April 2021) https://www.nme.com/features/opinion/the-smiths-morrissey-the-simpsons-2923272
Much of it driven by nostalgia. By branding Morrissey a racist they de-gay the Smiths, avoiding the discomfort of identifying with One Of Them, relegating him to an asexual ghost, rebounding on to the heterosexual axeman, replacing him with Brandon Flowers & Rick Astley.
The Smiths manifesto of vengeance on the world through disability, withdrawal and asexuality (it was impossible to imagine that Morrissey actually had a penis) was immensely attractive. (Simon Price, Melody Maker, 15 August 1992)
a lifetime of world-weary bitterness has soured the soul of Morrissey. This makes me sad, especially when one of his songs genuinely shook my self-centred 16-year-old self. In 1986 I was deeply affected by ‘I Know It’s Over’ from The Queen Is Dead and the lines “It’s so easy to laugh/ It’s so easy to hate/ It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” It would appear that, for Stephen Morrissey, hate will always be very much alive. (John Freeman, the Quietus, 13 March 2013)
… it’s time for an intervention. Johnny Marr, protector of all that is right and good about the Smiths, we need you like never before. If you can banish Cameron to the wastelands, forcing him to salvage whatever meagre delights he can from the Mighty Lemon Drops, surely you can do the same to Morrissey. Just one tweet, that’s all it would take. “I forbid Morrissey from liking the Smiths.” That’s it. Then we can band together, Samwell Tarly and all, and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our enjoyment of a perfectly good band won’t once again be tainted by the lunk-headed ravings of a professional irritant like Morrissey. (Stuart Heritage, the Guardian, 3 October 2017)
Morrissey embodied a more sensitive form of masculinity for the young me – but was I just kidding myself?… The Smiths are okay, as they predate their singer’s consistent insensitivity, but solo Morrissey isn’t. (Jordan Bassett, NME, 7 August 2019)
yeah that’s the thing. ‘reggae is vile,’ panic, bengali…it was always right there. (J Edgar Noothgrush, ilxor, 24 January 2022)
After the NME’s 2007 rehash of the 1992 homophobic hit piece, the press drive to defame him became acute, with a never ending series of scandals hyped up from sundry words, phrases, incidents & accidents. Ignoring his obvious ill health & the strong medication he said he was prescribed, some commentators decided he was an erratic, lying, crank.
[I] had a very bad time, I had internal bleeding and was rushed into hospital, and I lost a lot of blood and they tried to patch me together, over the following five weeks, but it didn’t quite work, and I was on a lot of IV drips for almost five weeks, and each time it seemed as though I was back to robust health I would decline. So this is what happened, I’m afraid with the festival this week I saw the doctors and they said, “no no no no, you cannot” because I had lost so much blood and I had became anemic, but I’m still receiving ongoing treatment and I’m very optimistic now. (Morrissey, Mexico City Reactor Radio, 19 March 2013) http://www.cristinarocks.com/2013/03/morrissey-mexico-city-interview.html?m=1
In December a rider for a gig in Croatia led to a long-running saga involving cheese wheels.
2006 and 2015 saw leaked email scandals.
In 2016 there was a palaver over Supreme t-shirts. Morrissey modelled for them but didn’t like the way he looked, didn’t like looking at himself all over town, thought it was linked to a meat company, and couldn’t use a photo he preferred because his nephew put it on Instagram.
Morrissey has always linked his depression to seeing footage of animals slaughtered & admits vegetarianism/veganism can be hard.
I became vegetarian first when I was very young when I caught sight of a programme on the television showing slaughter and I’d never seen it before, the abattoir, the slaughterhouse. I was frozen for five years. I couldn’t believe that in our society such places exist. Even now I can’t believe such places exist. It baffles me, I can’t understand it. Nobody’s that hungry that you need to take a life of something that also wants to live. It’s a gradual thing. Everybody begins as vegetarian because to dive straight forward into being a complete purist is very hard for most people. Financially you can’t do it and also you have to find food, but once you do it it’s so much better. [Takes off Stella McCartney shoe] There’s no animals involved in this shoe but from a distance you’d think it was an animal shoe. It’s not made of leather, it’s plastic. Would I really lie about this? Is this the place to lie about shoes? (Morrissey, Larry King Now, 19 August 2015)
Despite that, he’s always been attacked for it.
30 March 1985: Following the Morrissey interview (Trial By Jury) featured in the Melody Maker on 16 March, there was a strong reaction against the singer in the letters column. “Will MM give us a break from Mr Righteous God Almighty Morrissey?”… “Morrissey you ain’t seen anything if the Lunatic Animal Libbers kill any of my kids”… “MM could solve most of Morrissey’s problems by arranging a confrontation with a full-grown lion, a Bengal tiger, an alligator, or some other carnivores to see if his platitudes can influence their diet!” (Johnny Rogan, the Smiths, Omnibus Press, 1994)
And the press even managed to use it in their quest to brand him a gay predator/racist.
The holier-than-thou aspect of Morrissey’s public profile has naturally tempted journalists to try and bring him down… Some have unsuccessfully tried to brand him a racist… The other line has been to probe for a story on the man’s sexuality, taking their cue from the camp artwork on Smiths record sleeves… (Stuart Bailie, Record Mirror, 14 February 1987)
With his last album called Years of Refusal, Morrissey is nothing if not defiant, and I suspect that his unattractive response to being challenged over race in the past is to grow ever-more certain of his own righteousness and then court fresh controversy in order to confirm to himself that he is being persecuted. What the world thinks – and the feelings of others – are nothing compared to the importance of being Morrissey. (Tom Clark, the Guardian, September 2010) https://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/sep/03/morrissey-race-taboos-tom-clark
His outsiderdom is a function of his misanthropy. And his vegetarianism is the expedient by which he justifies that misanthropy. (Peter Paphides, the Guardian, 10 March 2012)
British rocker Morrissey forced Madison Square Garden to ban meat and fish when he gave a concert there last year. “There is no difference between eating animals and pedophilia,” he’s said, and once actually likened the use of animals for food to the Holocaust. His self-righteousness inflames Yvette d’Entremont, an LA-based analytical chemist who debunks many nutritional myths — especially those which claim just about every food to be dangerous… (Steve Cuzzo, New York Post, 18 May 2016)
Yet even that song’s (brilliant) sad-bastard rallying cry—“I am human and I need to be loved / just like everybody else does”—sounds like an understatement in comparison to “Meat Is Murder”’s sanctimonious refrain: “It’s death for no reason / and death for no reason is murder.” (Erik Adams, AV Club, 28 January 2015)
…they assume you’ve adopted the moral high ground by refusing to eat a dead animal. And they’re right. But you only take the stand on behalf of the butchered animal, you don’t make money from your point of view. You become the voice of the animal… who kicked and struggled to hang on to life, but who was chopped up because some fat oaf in Woking fancied some commercial-break nibbles (Morrissey, Tremr, 5 June 2018)
Despite Morrissey being open about his anxiety and depression (and, since 2009, health battles that include ulcers, fevers, and cancer scares), people are angry that he sometimes cancels a show.
With some artists, interviews are easy. You book a time, turn up, switch on the tape recorder, and they give you the same old sales pitch that they’ve just doled out to a hundred other reporters. With Morrissey, it doesn’t work that way… Every so often, we’d bump into one another, but the interview that I’d been promised was like some sort of mirage… Meanwhile, a string of magazine and TV journalists were left angry and empty-handed as all their appointments were canceled… Morrissey can drive people nuts: He just doesn’t play the media and business game. (David Thomas, Spin, November 1992)
… it’s not surprising considering the number of hospitals I’ve been rushed into in the last 18 months. It all seems to have hit me at once, which I expect is just the way it goes. Acute fever, a bleeding ulcer, food poisoning, Barrretts Oesophagus… it’s hardly believable. The worst was in June in Boston when I was hospitalised with acute fever. I was delirious for six hours… talking absolute nonsense and unable to stop. I’ve never been so frightened in my life. Then of course you get bitchy comments for having to cancel shows. The hospital actually gave me a heroin-based medication to calm me down. But, so what? I’ve been in so many hospitals lately that there’s hardly any point in me leaving. (Morrissey, Hot Press, 20 August 2014)
It was one of the reasons that journalists chose to smear him as a racist after he was attacked by a homophobic crowd at Finsbury Park in 1992.
… disquiet had set in. He’d pulled out of Glastonbury, after his fans had bought their 49 quid tickets, and he pulled out of the second day of Madstock (another 20 quid down the pan). (Andrew Collins, his blog, 27 November 2007)
It was a bout of depression that led to him leaving a 1995 tour with David Bowie.
Although reportedly hospitalised for depression only a week ago in England, he was well up for the show… Morrissey certainly has his share of detractors. Many accuse him of whining, of being frivolous, or being a prima donna. These things may be true, but then again there’s no one quite like him. (Wayne Karrfalt, Japan Times, 16 December 1995)
Depression is such a misunderstood condition that its impact on his career & earning capacity gets ignored, and his ability to play smaller gigs shortly afterwards was deemed questionable.
In 1995, Morrissey agreed to open up for his hero on the European leg of Bowie’s Outside tour, but after getting a poor reception from crowds and critics, quit early on, citing an “illness”that didn’t stop him from touring Japan on his own a couple weeks later. (Steve Pafford, his blog, 4 July 2020)
The time for Morrissey to cash in on his association with David Bowie would have been the immediate aftermath of Bowie’s death when every man and his dog did a tribute show/book/blog/tweet/song/album/artwork… Morrissey, who has never joined in with anything getting blanket coverage, got flack for not saying anything…
Famously, during the notorious celebrity holocaust of 2016, Morrissey was filmed at the Manchester Arena at his only concert of the year not-so-subtly snubbing Bowie from the stage to the grave. Prior to ending the homecoming show with a run through of Oboe Concerto (a recent track off his World Peace Is None of Your Business album memorable mainly for its key line “All the best ones are dead”), the contrary one paused to reflect on the “year of the reaper,” name-checking several public figures who had passed that year, because he wanted “to remember” Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Muhammad Ali, and Prince, with the singer claiming they left the world “too soon, too soon, too soon.” However, when it became evident the malignant Mozfather was refusing to pay tribute a fallen artist who, just a few miles away back in the day, just happened to be one of his biggest idols in the ’70s, a few fans responded with jeers. In an audience filmed video seemingly removed from cyberspace, as one dude shouted, “Bowie?” another notices the slight and jumps in with a “You cunt!” directed at the curmudgeon. (Steve Pafford, his blog, 4 July 2020)
Then got accused of only caring about money when he released a duet with David, Cosmic Dancer, four years later.
“MORRISSEY LOVES DAVID” apparently. Well, he does if there’s money to be made and more eyebrows to be raised. Oh, and there’s nowt as queer as folk, obviously. (Steve Pafford, his blog, 4 July 2020) https://www.stevepafford.com/mozbowie/
From the beginning of Morrissey’s career he talked about his mental health issues and his problems with social interaction.
It is difficult to describe how really insular I was… I was entirely on my own… I found life unbearable at times… the fear and anguish… I seemed to be more depressed than anyone else. (Morrissey, Blitz, April 1988)
Before he was famous he was excluded and othered, after he was famous it continued.
One of the lads said, “you ought to hear the voice!” It was a very girlish, effeminate voice and his mannerisms were very effeminate – Noel Devaney on Morrissey’s first school day. (Johnny Rogan, the Smiths, Omnibus Press, 1994)
“Morrissey,” remembers Paul Morley, “was always laughed at in Manchester when we were kids. He was the village idiot. That’s the ironic thing – now he’s the poet of a generation. But in those days he was ‘that-one-in-the-corner, Steve the Nutter’.” (Jessica Berens, Spin, September, 1986)
[to Morrissey] I remember who and what you used to be. You were like the village idiot, the odd one out, the backward boy. (Paul Morley Blitz, April 1988)
When he was violently attacked by homophobes at Finsbury Park in 1992, the music press blamed him for it, labelling him a racist by twisting his words out of context, guilt by association, and falsely claiming that touching the Union Jack was fascist. It then became acceptable to gaslight him, monster him & be ableist.
To be a national treasure you have to be likable. Is Morrissey likable any more? I’m almost loth to say that he isn’t, because to do so would be toplay into the persecution complex he has been nurturing for the best part of his solo career. Even when he makes pronouncements that, broadly speaking, I agree with, there’s something about the way he makes them that makes me recoil…“I do feel as though I have been somewhat victimised,” he told Mojo a few years ago. But what has he been “victimised” for? The 1992 show where he sang “The National Front Disco” draped in a union flag seems to have been a turning point. At the time, I was one of the few people in the music press who felt that Morrissey should have been given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was trying to make some arcane point about the nature of Britishness to a park full of Madness fans. In retrospect, though, it seems pretty clear that he was defying people to misunderstand him… (Peter Paphides, The Guardian, March, 2012)
The King of the Trolls title is hard to win. Between professional Russian tweeters and amateur armies of online haters doing battle with everything from CNN to Starbucks, there is no shortage of competition. But even in this crowded field, Morrissey shines like a true champion. (Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald, 7 December 2017)
Ultimately, you can’t help feeling that not only did Morrissey need Johnny Marr to achieve greatness, but the guitarist was also a restraining and civilising influence on his songwriting partner. (Mark Phillips, Medium, November 2019)
Morrissey isn’t senile, he’s always been a racist. (Mangal Media/Freedom Magazine, August 2019).
We interviewed Bid from The Monochrome Set whose view was that the creative part of Morrissey’s brain operated separately from the part that was prone to “spouting rubbish”. One of Svenja’s friends has been diagnosed with a mild form of Asperger Syndrome, a disorder characterised by difficulties with social interaction and repetitive behaviour. Her friend is adamant that they recognise aspects of their condition in his behaviour… Morrissey may well be socially awkward, like many creative people. But he’s not stupid. He has walked a thin line courting controversy and the uglier aspects of human sentiment. He knows exactly what he’s done and he’s made a very good living from it. His problem is that he has lost a lot of income and audience, and I’m sure he won’t enjoy being categorised under “racist cunt”. (Phil Ross, Louder Than War, March 19, 2020)
I feel that as a black man liking music made mainly by white people it means I will have to wince every now and then at lyrics… not to mention whatever Morrissey says… ever. (Gabriel Ebulue, the Quietus, 13 November 2019)
Then there’s their Irishness and the punk moment. Shane was immensely inspired by John Lydon. The Irish thing cannot be overlooked, as they were crucial to English pop music. John Lennon, Billy Fury, if we can still mention his name, Morrissey. There’s a great deal of Irish presence in English music. What’s different about MacGowan is that he made a real point of being Irish. (Julian Temple, Flood Magazine, December 2020)
“From the opening, combative ‘The Classical’ the album seethes with rancour (the opening line “Where are the obligatory n—–s? Hey there, fuck face!” although not racist in the context of the song, is unpleasant to say the least and, unsurprisingly, cost them a record deal with Motown)”... the first thing that I failed to do when writing about ‘The Classical’ was to put the song in a solid contemporary context. Smith was far from the only musician dropping the n-word in this period and this usage exists right at the periphery of a much more well established continuum. (John Doran, the Quietus, 13 November 2019) https://thequietus.com/articles/27427-hex-enduction-hour-the-classical-the-fall-racist
… I’m fit and working again And I feel like Alan Minter I just ate eight sheets of blotting paper And I chucked out the Alka Seltzer… (Fit and Working Again, The Fall, 1987)
In Morrissey & Marr: the Severed Alliance (Omnibus Press, London, 1992) author Johnny Rogan paraphrased & commented on a 10 page letter written by Morrissey on the 5th of August 1977 when Morrissey was 18 years old.
Even when seriously denouncing racial prejudice, he was wont to admit that he disliked Pakistanis. “I don’t hate Pakistanis, but I dislike them immensely”, he wrote in one letter of the time. It was a flippantly blunt adolescent observation. The basis of his aversion (they give off odorous aroma) was crudely stereotypical and completely out of step with his general philosophy. Then again he may simply have been indulging himself in an ironic joke, expressed in his characteristically haughty tone.
The letter has never been published, so we only have Rogan’s version to go on. Racists in the 1970s were highly unlikely to use Pakistani over the four letter offensive short form & it’s structured as a joke.
It was only highlighted because of the “race row” in 1986 – when Frank Owen’s framing of Black pop as everything dumb & dancey went unchallenged while Morrissey was condemned for remarks about reggae & mid 1980s American soul.
In August 1992 the NME used it as part of their “evidence” that Morrissey was racist. A student protest, under a Union Jack on the outside of EMI’s offices, cited it as their biggest reason that Morrissey had a “case to answer”. To the NME. In an interview.
The NME also used Morrissey’s sarcastic joke about Rogan to suggest he was no longer “gentle & kind” & his career had taken a wrong turn.
Equally, his recent response to the publication of Johnny Rogan’s Smiths book The Severed Alliance, was at best distasteful, at worst illustrative of a severe lack of perspective. Rogan’s book, which Morrissey was asked, but declined, to co-operate with (as Johnny Marr already had), is a well researched if slightly worthy account of the greatest British group of the ’80s. There seemed precious little in it for Morrissey to get upset about; indeed, members of his family have written to Rogan congratulating him on the book. Yet in an NME news story, Morrissey, while admitting that he’d never even read it, condemned the book, and said that he hoped Rogan died in a car smash on the M3. Asked in a more recent interview if he’d really meant that, he said no, what he really meant was that he hoped the journalist would meet his end in a hotel fire! Is this the same man who, in The Smiths’ finest moment (‘I Know It’s Over’) wrote “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind”? Sadly, yes. The same man but now displaying a cruelty and lack of deftness that makes his golden days seem light years away. (NME, 22 August 1992)
Rogan either felt he couldn’t disagree with the NME (then the most powerful music publication in the UK) or he was influenced by the coverage, because in a letter to them he claimed he knew Morrissey was in trouble the moment he saw the Union Jack.
The moment Morrissey unfurled that Union Jack I knew he was in trouble. I assumed that the ‘Is Morrissey A Racist?’ debate was a discredited old chestnut, but now it’s back, bigger than ever… It’s the other trappings that I find irksome – particularly the Union Jack. Perhaps he regards the flag as a suitable prop to emphasise the sentiments of ‘Glamorous Glue’, but he well knows its other connotations. (Johnny Rogan, NME letters page, 29 August 1992)
Morrissey held the flag for less than 2 minutes, he scrunched it up & threw it away. There is absolutely no way a British Nationalist would interpret an effeminate Irish Catholic chucking away a Union Jack as a sign of support.
The people who threw missiles at him were calling him a “poof”. They started before he thrashed the flag about & they kept going long after. They weren’t interested in the flag at all.
Not to mention that any negative “connotations” were confined to squabbles on the hard left. To the vast majority of British people, it was just the flag.
Every year, including 1992, it was on prime time UK television at the Last Night of the Proms.
It was on bunting, and party hats & respectable people wore it while raising money for charity.
On the 2nd October 2017 on BBC 6 Music Live, Morrissey made a mordant joke about Anne Marie Waters losing the UKIP leadership election:
I was very surprised the other day, it was very interesting for me to see Anne Marie Waters become the head of UKIP. Oh no, sorry, she didn’t, the voting was rigged. I forgot.
Morrissey had been falsely accused of racism since 1992 when he was attacked by homophobes at Finsbury Park & the NME accused him of inciting it because of his sexuality. The false accusations – misleading quotes and paraphrasing, guilt by association, negative framing – colossally increased after NME journalist Tim Jonze rehashed the 1992 article in 2007, then became the Guardian’s music editor in 2010.
Anne Marie Waters is a lesbian, an Irish immigrant, a feminist & a vegan. She started out on the left of politics, and had been in the Labour Party, the National Secular Society and One Law For All, a campaign to stop religious laws from overruling human rights. She had been complaining that she was driven out of the left and smeared as a racist by the media. https://www.secularism.org.uk/one-law-for-all/
Ukip MEPs Hold Secret Meeting To Discuss How To Block Anti-Islam Candidate From Leadership Contest. Anne Marie Waters is a controversial figure in the party… (Owen Bennett, Huffington Post, 11 July 2017)
My core aim is to challenge and dismantle this entire mess of media (Anne Marie Waters, Express & Star, 7 September 2017)
The MSM has, in general, lazily covered people like Waters, preferring to sneer and smear – racists, far-right, bigots, idiots et cetera… She will reply that she is in fact the anti-fascist candidate, fighting the homophobia and misogyny of Islam… And next time there is a grooming case – and there are more coming – or a terrorist attack, it will be served up as proof of spineless liberals’ virtue signalling crap. (Jamie Bartlett, Little Atoms, 24 August 2017) http://littleatoms.com/society/ann-marie-waters-versus-media
The press reaction to the joke was relentlessly negative – with a consensus building that he ‘is no longer the voice of the oppressed, but sympathetic of the oppressor.‘ (Kat Manos, the Pop Break, 28 November 2017)
Morrissey’s latest outburst – a conspiracy theory about anti-Muslim politician Anne Marie Waters – ought to be the final straw for right-thinking fans of his music (Stuart Heritage, the Guardian, 3 October 2017)
In March 2018 he was particularly wounded by the Independant and the Guardian.
The Independent printed an extreme Hate Piece so loaded with vile bile that it almost choked on its own endless capacity to be appalled… When the print media are lost for a reply, they simply change the subject by naming their opponent as ‘racist’, which is the perfect ploy because most people are naturally appalled to be called racist, and they step back in silence, and the debate collapses unresolved… Is civilization over? The cannibalistic mobile grave known as The Guardian suggests so… I am neither Loony Left nor Far Right. I am a humanitarian. I have not ever once voted in a British election because I have not ever discovered a party that represents my views. My main social concern is the abolition of the abattoir, the continued existence of which in modern times is beyond sane belief. I confess that my life in music has been stunted by shyness, and this remains. I am too interior, and this can often seem like bone splitting arrogance. But it is not… I have been criticized in the UK for so long (nowhere else!) that anything said about me no longer strikes me as a threat because I am still, after all, here… Katie Boyle, who very sadly died this week, said “you have to accept [the press] telling complete lies about you. You can’t take legal action because that fans the flame.” I see what she means! (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 28 March 2018)
For Britain had been launched on the 15th October 2017 – so sometime after March 28th and before the 20th of April (23 days) – someone or something convinced him that Anne Marie’s party would abolish the meat-trade. Although he mentioned other issues in passing – “Labour are no different from the Conservatives in that they do not object to FGM, halal slaughter, child marriage, and so on. There is no moral clarity with these people” (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 16 April 2018) – it came from a sense of bewilderment that he was so vehemently condemned for anything that could be related to race or immigration – his political focus was always animal rights .
I despise racism. I despise fascism. I would do anything for my Muslim friends, and I know they would do anything for me. In view of this, there is only one British political party that can safeguard our security. That party is For Britain. Please give them a chance. Listen to them. Do not be influenced by the tyrannies of the MSM who will tell you that For Britain are racist or fascist – please believe me, they are the very opposite!!! Please do not close your mind. Labour is hopelessly naive. Theresa May’s policies have turned Britain into a international target. The BBC has closed down. The Loony Left is concerned only with victim culture. For Britain will keep British society together. Violence is not the way forward. There are many problems in modern Britain that have become too large for Theresa May to deal with – mostly because she created them in the first place. The press appear to deal only in fashionable outrage; inflammatory and unjust comments against any new party that threatens the same old bloody pointless two-party system. Please give For Britain a chance. They will bring an end to the modern Westminster mania for self-destruction. For Britain is the bulldog breed that will never surrender. Both Labour and Conservatives have already sold you down the river into righteous oblivion. This is my last political strike. No wish to upset anyone! But the time has come to fight, and Labour and the Conservatives have their backs to the sea. Are you capable of change? Thank you, and peace for all of us. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 20 April 2018)
The reaction was the usual:
There are no excuses left for the former Smiths frontman’s repugnant political views… Morrissey’s opinions on race and immigration have been troubling fans since at least the early Nineties… his opinions are clear enough. He is sympathetic towards Farage, Waters, Brexit and celebrities accused of sexual assault. He dislikes immigration, multiculturalism, the EU, political correctness and “the loony left”. He has a particular obsession with Islam… Yet it is still startling how proudly Morrissey advertises that intolerance. (Dorian Lynskey, the New Statesman, 27 April 2018)
So he didn’t believe it.
I have been following a new party called For Britain which is led by Anne Marie Waters. It is the first time in my life that I will vote for a political party. Finally I have hope. I find the Tory-Labour-Tory-Labour constant switching to be pointless. For Britain has received no media support and have even been dismissed with the usual childish ‘racist’ accusation. I don’t think the word ‘racist’ has any meaning any more, other than to say “you don’t agree with me, so you’re a racist.” People can be utterly, utterly stupid. Anne Marie Waters seeks open discussion about all aspects of modern Britain, whereas other parties will not allow diverse opinion. She is like a humane version of Thatcher … if such a concept could be. She is absolute leadership, she doesn’t read from a script, she believes in British heritage, freedom of speech, and she wants everyone in the UK to live under the same law. I find this compelling, now, because it’s very obvious that Labour or the Tories do not believe in free speech… I mean, look at the shocking treatment of Tommy Robinson… I know the media don’t want Anne Marie Waters and they try to smear her, but they are wrong and they should give her a chance, and they should stop accusing people who want open debate as being ‘racist’. As I said previously, the left has become right-wing and the right-wing has become left – a complete switch, and this is a very unhappy modern Britain. (Morrissey, Tremr, 5 June 2018)
In May 2019, he wore a For Britain badge twice, once at a New York gig, once on US television.
The press outrage was global.
And that was it. He dropped Anne Marie and For Britain. And everything he has ever said about them is in this post.
In early old age could I please express very sincere thanks to BBC Radio 2 for their broad-shouldered support given to “California Son”, “Wedding Bell Blues” and “It’s Over”. Whatever the future brings, I will always remember Radio 2’s steady support during these rocky weeks – especially from Jo Whiley. I am sorry the UK print media’s contorted interpretation of who and what I am has gone all wrong. In these days when most people are afraid to even whisper, the print media write as if someone is coming to get them. This aching nervousness brings on the vengeful and paranoid. Inventing Britain’s doomsday is the preoccupation of the tabloids, and they can hate you for having lived. I straighten up, and my position is one of hope. The march backwards is over, and life has begun again. With voice extended to breaking point, I call for the prosperity of free speech; the eradication of totalitarian control; I call for diversity of opinion; I call for the total abolition of the abattoir; I call for peace, above all; I call for civil society; I call for a so-far unknowable end to brutalities; “No” to Soviet Britain; prayers not to gods but to forces; an end to disingenuous media cluelessness; the people have the power; hatred and beheadings belong in the furnace of history; music might still be your only friend; for every shade and persuasion … we shall always be alongside each other – everyone’s culture of value; no more fashionable outrage; cows are friends to humans – don’t kill them; beware of those who write in headlines; moral fiber means holding on … to your friends; give up on inferior arguments; God gave you your life to enjoy – you will cry for your life in years to come … death always answers back; do not be a nobody; you have survived this far in order to make the remainder peaceful and funny; your very survival proves that you have a right; ignore the cold eyes of fascism; your life is Art. (Morrissey, 24 May 2019)
I am not an activist, I have never voted for a political party, I do not belong to any political party… I do not believe that the most important thing about a person is the colour of their skin. (Morrissey, Kipper Central, June 2019)
It didn’t end the drama.
The media continue to write about him, linking him to the far right, giving the far right mainstream publicity.
In June 2019, his then manager, tweeted about the badge on Morrissey’s Twitter account.
In October 2019, his then manager, posted a response to an LA Times hit piece, written by For Britain’s Pakistani heritage, ex-Muslim, deputy chair, Khadija Adam, on Morrissey’s Facebook page.
For Britain believes in 1) British sovereignty outside the EU, 2) tightly limited immigration and 3) stopping Britain becoming an Islamic state, which on current demographic trends must happen in the middle third of this century… Islamism is a supremacist ideology that seeks to supplant the West. Anyone who supports Western liberal values such as free speech, gender equality and non-violent punishments for offenders should be anti-Islamist. The largest poll in the UK of it’s type revealed over half of UK muslims believe homosexuality should be a criminal offence. Do you therefore not understand why this may be an issue to the leader of a party who is gay herself?
On Morrissey Central, in June 2019, his nephew belatedly posted an interview from April 2019 that mentioned Anne Marie.
I think Anne Marie Waters is the only British party leader who can unite the left and right. I don’t know any other party leader who even WANTS to do this. The UK is a dangerously hateful place now, and I think we need someone to put a stop to the lunacy and to speak for everyone. I see Anne Marie Waters as this person. She is extremely intelligent, ferociously dedicated to this country, she is very engaging, and also very funny at times… My political stance is simple: I oppose barbarism … from the left from the right, or from the centre… a fascist would never have recorded “Wedding Bell Blues”, but, you see, the press choose their targets, and ignore what it suits them to ignore. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2019)
And, again on Morrissey Central, 27 July 2020, his nephew, posted Anne Marie’s vlog from a Live Export protest.
With legacy and social media ablaze, Anne Marie became one of the most important far right leaders, which she immediately ruined by becoming a white nationalist. Of sorts.
In August 2019 she appeared at a conference held by Generation Identity UK, a now defunct neo-Nazi group – under the bizarre impression that the room was full of moderates who would stop neo-Nazis using mass immigration to neo-Nazi. She had come to the conclusion that Europeans are biologically secular, non-Europeans are biologically religious, Europeans are white, non-Europeans are not white, therefore the way to stop Europe being taken over by Islam is to have the UN declare that white people are the indigenous people of Europe and that mass immigration is colonialism.
She was probably groomed into this absurd belief online.
She was upset that her own side – the left – were mostly denouncing her as a bigot.
Groups like the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe are using real concern about Sharia law in order to promote their racist and anti-immigrant agenda. Like the Islamists, they blame everyone who they consider Muslim for the crimes of Islamism. Pro-Islamist Left groups like Stop the War Coalition, United Against Fascism and Respect Party are no better. They excuse and justify Islamism at the expenses of the lives, rights and freedoms of innumerable people. (Maryam Namazie, One Law For All: Enemies Not Allies Seminar, 29 January 2011)
Around this time she became Twitter friends with Tommy Robinson – who offered to help One Law For All get greater traction. Tommy was part of the counter-jihad – a weird mix of vulnerable minorities (gay people, Jewish people, ex-muslims, vegans…) using the far right to hold back Islamism (which is like napalming your face to cure acne), and the far right using vulnerable minorities to mainstream white supremacy (while struggling to conceal their contempt). Confusingly the far right were also cosying up to Russia, Iran and the hard left to oppose ‘organised Jewry’/the Israeli Lobby/Corporate America/Bankers/Capitalists/Zionists/Jews – so you could scroll Twitter and find a Neo-Nazi account sharing a list of Jewish people who work in the media with a Marxist.
As you all know, Co-Spokesperson Anne Marie Waters resigned in November 2013. What you don’t know is that her resignation followed more recent political disagreements on some key issues, including One Law for All’s refusal to collaborate with the members of racist and far-Right groups and our insistence on the need to distinguish between Muslims/immigrants and Islamists. (Maryam Namazie, One Law For All press release, 7 May 2014)
In 2013 she made a disastrous appearance at the Oxford Union arguing against the motion: this house believes Islam is a religion of peace. Ignoring that freedom OF religion is as important as freedom FROM religionshe argued that ‘it is the moderate Muslims who must “dance around meanings” and “stretch interpretations” when confronted with the fundamentally violent ideology of the Qur’an’. (Oxford Union, YouTube, July 3 2013)
In November 2013 she left One Law For All and the Labour Party.
I joined the Labour Party because I believed that all people should have equal rights, and should never be disadvantaged as a result of characteristics that they cannot change. I believed that people should have the same rights and protections irrespective of their gender or skin colour. I believed in fairness and in justice. I believed in civil liberties and a government run by the people for the people… I still believe in those things, which is why I cannot, in any good conscience, remain a member of the Labour Party. (Anne Marie Waters, Dispatch International, October 2013) http://www.islamophobiawatch.co.uk/anne-marie-waters-and-dispatch-international-one-more-time/
She set up Sharia Watch UK, a right-wing version of One Law. It was launched in the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Cox.
She wrote for counter-jihad journals like Dispatch International, failed to set up a branch of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) in the UK with Tommy Robinson, then joined UKIP, hoping to make opposition to Islam their main issue. https://www.radicalisationresearch.org/guides/pegida-uk/
UKIP’s anti-Islam leadership candidate Anne Marie Waters can be revealed as a strike-supporting socialist and trade unionist who played an active role in the Labour Party for a decade and described her political views as “standard left-wing”. Waters is the supposedly hard-right, Tommy Robinson-endorsed candidate in the UKIP leadership race. UKIP figures are concerned she is a Walter Mitty character, self-publicist and entryist who has taken a less than credible political journey. (Team Order Order, Guido Fawkes, July 4 2017)
Marxist Lesbian activist Anne Marie Waters, attempts to hijack UKIP for her Zionist backers (Jack Sen, Nick Griffin, Resistance Radio, 16 July 2017)
Over the past few years Ann-Marie Waters, an Irish LGBT activist, backed by Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media, Tommy Robinson and a cabal of Jewish nationalists with irrefutable ties to American Neoconservative organisations, has advanced upon the British political scene… On every last issue — abortion, non-Islamic immigration, gay rights, mandated teaching of homosexuality in schools, etc. — Ms Waters is a dogmatic Bolshevik to the core. (Jack Sen, Occidental Observer, 25 August 2017)
After a couple of months, I began to tutor Waters on media and presentation. Although she was a natural, I encountered a point during this intense period of training, where she seemed to exhibit an unnerving bias and hostility against men … Her delivery, in my personal opinion, was aggressive and spiteful. She was a bitter woman and not a patriot for England. (Winston McKenzie, a former UKIP organiser, quoted by Jack Sen, Occidental Observer, 12 September 2017)
When she lost the UKIP leadership election she set up For Britain. It became a magnet for far right activists, esp from the BNP, hoping to slip into power behind a civic nationalist facade.
Many Whites are, sadly, progressives. We won’t win our war for racial survival without bringing some of them around to White separatism. If that means appealing to feminists by pointing out Muslim misogyny, or environmentalists via facts about immigration and overpopulation, so be it. Whatever works. (Lord Shang, Counter-Currents comment section, 16 May 2019)
Pragmatic neo-Nazis were impressed that she would talk about The Great Replacement – the conspiracy theory that white people are being replaced in their ancestral homelands, which includes the United States of America, Australia, Canada, and South Africa, by non-white people – but didn’t see her going anywhere.
Though we might disagree with much of Ms Waters’ ideology and sometimes doubt her political choices, no one can doubt that she is a genuine, committed, and often courageous campaigner… at one time it seemed that civic nationalism with an anti-Islamist, pro-Zionist edge was the way forward, at least for those prepared to swallow their ideological objections in the interest of electoral ‘strategy’. That argument no longer holds water. (Admin978, Heritage and Destiny, 23 July 2021)
Purist neo-Nazis didn’t see why they had to put up with a lesbian if she wasn’t going to lure in unsuspecting voters with ‘legitimate concerns’. And moved in on Morrissey’s name, trying to claim his art as their own, a thing made vastly easier by left & centre commentators referring to A FAR RIGHT PARTY, or Britain First (an openly racist, anti-Irish-Catholic, party) in order to damn Morrissey as much possible.
Fascists like me get to keeping liking Morrissey while liberals have to burn all his records. Ha ha! Suckers!!! (Travis LeBlanc, Counter-Currents, 13 May 2019)
On 17 June 2019 Anne Marie made a YouTube video complaining that people on “our side of the political divide” were using Morrissey for attention while failing to name-check For Britain.
Patriotic Alternative’s Laura Towler declared herself a fan on nationalist podcast The Absolute State of Britain (2 November 2019)
‘Village Smiths’, apparently a Patriotic Alternative activist, tried to launch a culture zine dedicated to the coming ‘Britnat music scene’ on Morrissey Solo (it didn’t come) –
Conformity in the UK: The Unbearable Wokeness of the UK Punk Scene – While not a ‘punk’ in the traditional sense, Morrissey is a rare example of a musician not holding back in attacking the sacred cows of the liberal establishment… His increasingly nationalist views have divided fans of The Smithsand made him the target of a witch hunt in the mainstream media and music press in recent years. (Lewis, Vile Media, 20 April 2020)
On the 10th April 2020 Anne Marie made a YouTube video accusing Mark Collett, of neo-Nazi group, Patriotic Alternative, of being a racist, a misogynist and a homophobe – concluding with “If you want a manifesto that is solely about throwing black people out of the country then by all means do go and join Patriotic Alternative.”
There was a backlash from her milieu.
The problem is, you just spent five minutes in a hysterical, emotional outburst… You have not addressed the foundation of concerns for For Britain people who are moving to PA (Ralph Masilamani, YouTube, 10 April 2020)
I have often wondered how an Irish Lesbian felt she had what it takes to lead an in the main English Nationalist party? I supported For Britain from the sidelines, feeling that it was better than nothing… will it be ‘For Britain ’, pro Israel, Pro gay lead by someone who strikes me will take the money and toe the Jewish line. Or will they vote for P.A. A party lead by pair of decent English Patriots who arent gay, arent pro Israel and are uncompromising when it comes to policies which harm our people? I pray to the good lord that it is the latter… because ’we are here, we are not queer get used to it’. (Patriot, Patriotic Alternative blog comment, 10 April 2020)
In a livestream on the 13th of April 2020 she had to deny that she had any connection to Israel.
It wasn’t enough.
Weird Dyke Anne Marie Waters Launches Hysterical Attack on Patriotic Alternative… A dyke will never get on board with right-wing ethnonationalism because dykes are useless and sterile… Waters is a filthy dyke Jew puppet who we should laugh at and scold like a misbehaving child until she stops her destructive behaviour of worshipping white-hating Jews (Anon, Martinez Perspective, 22 April 2020)
On 14 May 2020 she uploaded a video titled ‘Our Demographic Destiny’ in which (somewhat hilariously given her strong Dublin accent) she stressed that as Prime Minister she would permanently remove anyone not sufficiently British.
On 30 September 2020 in a YouTube video – panicked by actor Laurence Fox’s billionaire-backed hard right Reclaim Party – she implied she had no celebrity support and For Britain was ‘for the people, by the people’.
In April 2021 a Simpsons episode branded Morrissey an anti-immigrant fat gay meat-eating racist. Anne Marie jumped to his defence on social media, highlighting animals in the hashtags, while asserting in a video that he supported her immigration policy, something he’s never mentioned.
Morrissey blanked her, but it didn’t stop his detractors from spreading her message.
And so it seems it will go on, world without end.
Side Note One: Anne Marie maintains – and probably believes – that For Britain is a Centre right, anti-racist party. And it does have a diverse – albeit emotionally unstable – membership.
Side Note Two: the left struggles to coherently oppose Islamic extremism, while the right often finds it agrees with it – leaving many victims of extremism with nowhere to turn.
He must have been startled too by the venomous contempt directed at him in England, both from the nativist Right and the multicultural Left. One of Margaret Thatcher’s closest colleagues, Norman Tebbit, damned Rushdie as a man whose “public life has been a record of despicable acts of betrayal of his upbringing, religion, adopted home and nationality.” A fine historian, Lord Dacre (Hugh Trevor-Roper), joined in, I’m sorry to say, mused whimsically about the possibility that some Muslims who deplored Rushdie’s manners might “waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them.” And John Le Carré said – in a comically inapt phrase – that “Nobody has a God-given right to insult a great religion.” There was much more in that vein from self-appointed friends of Islam. What some of these effusions illustrated all too vividly was the intellectual and moral tangle that “multi-culti” had got itself into. For one thing, in the case of “The Satanic Verses” and others since, sauce for the Muslim goose was plainly not sauce for the Christian gander. The very same people as those who affected such horror at Rushdie’s blasphemy against Islam derided anybody who claimed to be upset by blasphemy against Christianity. In the case in London some years earlier when Gay News published a lurid (if not very good) poem about a supposedly homosexual Jesus, chattering-class opinion unanimously supported the magazine. As to those who asserted that criticism of Islam was akin to racism, they were if anything the real racists, albeit unconscious. They not only willfully confused race with religion, they patronizingly applied different standards to dark-skinned Muslims, from whom, it seemed, nothing better than mindless violence could be expected. Most poignant of all was Rushdie himself. Behind the spiteful Tory sneers was the memory that, for years before the fatwa, and not content with his literary success, he had tried to parlay his Third Worldliness into a career. (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, the New York Times, November 3 2009) https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/news/13iht-edwheatcroft.1.20172827.html
The useful label ‘the pseudo-left’ has been knocking around the internet political blogs since 11 September, and it is high time it was brought into the mainstream media. It’s a shorthand description of the spectacle of left moving to the right, often to the far-right, and embracing obscurantists, theocrats and, in the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and its Baathist ‘insurgents’, classic fascists. (Nick Cohen, the Observer, 20 February 2005)
Lesbian and gay activists have called on The East London Mosque and its adjoining London Muslim Centre to prohibit homophobic speakers on its premises. The move has re-ignited controversy over the issue in Tower Hamlets with allegations being made by different groups of both anti-gay Muslim extremism and Islamaphobia. The latest furore follows an open letter posted online by 12 LBGT campaigners, including writers Julie Bindel and Paul Burston, which lists a series of events hosted by the East London Mosque allegedly attended by anti-gay Muslim clerics. These included Abdullah Hakim Quick, a supporter of the death penalty on gays and Abdul Hattin who incorporated a ‘Spot the Fag’ contest into his sermon in 2007. The letter follows the recent conviction of 18-year old Mohammad Hasnath who plastered ‘gay-hate’ stickers across East London, calling for the death penalty on homosexuals; Westminster Magistrates fined him just £100 for public disorder. Last month, four men were convicted of a brutal attack on a religious studies teacher, because they disapproved of his teaching. At the weekend, the Sunday Telegraph reported what it claimed to be number of previously unreported cases of hate crime which it claimed suggested police were allowing Muslims to ‘Islamicise’ an area of London. Reporter Andrew Gilligan cited several examples of Muslims and non-Muslims being threatened or ‘brow-beaten’ because they have been deemed to breach fundamentalist Islamic norms. (Christina Adamidou, East London Lines, June 14 2011) https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2011/06/gay-activists-challenge-east-london-mosque-over-extremism/
Like so many liberals, I have started to self-censor to avoid the wrath of my politically purist friends… Because I find myself holding a “transgressive” body of beliefs and doubts alongside my blue-chip leftwing ones that are liable to get me branded a misogynist, an Islamophobe and a Little Englander – at least by people on my Twitter feed, and others of my peer group. (Tim Lott, the Guardian, March 11 2015) https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/11/mainstream-left-silencing-sympathetic-voices
It is said that while it is hard to stand up to your enemies, it is even harder to stand up to your friends. I spent many years at the heart of left wing politics and discovered, to my cost, what can happen when you begin to take a different view, when you do your research and realise that the accepted consensus isn’t necessarily correct; speaking out on this can result in rejection, expulsion from the club. There is no area where this so robustly applies among the hard left than that of the state of Israel. Support of or sympathy for Israel can make you an immediate enemy to many. Israel is the untouchable issue; the consensus from which you cannot veer. The fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle East in which gay people enjoy anything resembling freedom or human rights is apparently a fraud — because the anti-Israel left demands that it be so… In the Gaza Strip, ruled with an iron fist by Hamas, not only are women subject to appalling treatment, but homosexuality can result in death. In 2011 Hamas cofounder, Mahmoud Zahar, said, “You in the West do not live like human beings. You do not even live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?” Attacks are frequent in the Gaza Strip and gays live in fear; so much so that LGBT Palestinians commonly flee to Israel. (Anne Marie Waters, her blog, July 2015)
In November, MEND’s chief executive, Sufyan Gulam Ismail, announced to a Manchester mosque: “We don’t want the government to fob us off with some phony thing called Tell MAMA, which has got a pro-Zionist pretty much heading it, or in a very senior capacity, and is making all sorts of comments we might not agree with when it comes to homosexuality, to be recording Islamophobia.” (Nick Cohen, the Observer, 4 October 2015)
‘If anyone asks why, if he is so perpetually unhappy, he doesn’t just kill himself, the answer is well rehearsed: “well there are things to do”. (Paul Morley, Blitz, April 1988)
In an interview with Larry King in August 2015 Morrissey talked about his suicidal depression and said:
It crosses everybody’s mind, everybody thinks about it. Even people who mistakenly assume they are happy. They think of disappearing and having enough, and many people do, taking control and saying ‘no more, no more of this silliness’. It’s admirable.
The NME decided to phone the Samaritans to get a quote they could describe as a criticism.
Later they criticised, Jim Jim Falls, a song that echoes Morrissey’s personal experience of depressive overthinking. Linking him to loud tabloid journalist & presenter, Piers Morgan, to further demonise him, the way they link him to Donald Trump or Jimmy Savile & blame him for rape & genocide.
I am depressed most of the time. And when you’re depressed it is so enveloping that it actually does control your life, you cannot overcome it, and you can’t take advice. People trying to cheer you up become infuriating and almost insulting. (Morrissey, Details, December 1992)
I always over-worried about everything, and over-analysed and thought really too deeply about every aspect of life. (Morrissey, Filter, February 2009)
Woker listeners may be appalled that opening track ‘Jim Jim Falls’ urges potential suicides at the Australian waterfall (“If you’re going to jump then jump… If you’re going to run home and cry then don’t waste my time / If you’re going to kill yourself then / To save face – get on with it”). For many Moz fans, this is the equivalent of misdialling The Samaritans and getting through to Piers Morgan. But a man who was once a figurehead for society’s poetic outsiders is now proudly recasting himself as brave truth-teller staring defiantly down the barrel of media crucifixion and cancel culture, saying what ‘everyone’ is really thinking. (Mark Beaumont, NME, 12th March 2020) https://www.nme.com/reviews/album/morrissey-i-am-not-a-dog-on-a-chain-review-2623817
Side note: Morrissey will always take the side of ordinary people over authority. He might see it as noble to kill yourself, but he’s appalled that politicians have the power to kill other people:
Iam a very melancholic person and I am desperate about the barbarity of the human race, which seems obsessed with its own suicide. Nuclear weapons are a form of this suicide, and yet all countries want them. (Morrissey, El Mundo, 20th April 2015)
Side note2: a YouTube channel labelled him Evil & put him in the same category as convicted child molesters.
Morrissey’s website, Morrissey Central, went live on the 28th March 2018.
It’s run by his nephew, Sam Esty Rayner, a photographer.
Aside from the occasional interview with Morrissey or a statement with Morrissey’s name & the date, most of the content is taken from social media.
By this point Morrissey had already been completely dehumanised as a racist Pariah, and Central was scrabbling around for support, not surprisingly finding it on the right with the Spectator, the Post Millennial, the National Review & alt-right YouTubers.
Someone more pr savvy would have avoided right-wing sources, but it’s a fair bet a site with James Baldwin on the landing page and a list of animal charities they’d like you to support, isn’t trying to further white supremacy.
As no one was making fair bets, it was chum in the water for Far Right activists already excited by the amount of times they were being told by the press that Morrissey rants against immigration, is an extreme English ethno Nationalist and hates black people.
On the 30th May 2019, the Guardian, published yet another roundup of why Morrissey is despicable with Finsbury Park – the gig where Morrissey was the target of a homophobic hate crime that resulted in him being the only artist in British history to be branded a racist by the press for touching a Union Jack – as its keystone.
Waving the union jack during his show at Madness’s Madstock festival in Finsbury Park, London, in 1992, felt like a more aggressive move (this was before Britpop’s Cool Britannia-era reclamation of the flag, and its association with the far right was still strong). And it was done in the knowledge that the Madness crowd contained a significant fascist/skinhead element. (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, May 2019)
On the 3rd of June 2019 Central posted a link to a response to the Guardian article by Fiona Dodwell that concluded with:
Using an old image of the former Smiths frontman from 1992, in which he is depicted onstage holding a Union Jack, Jonze asks his readers, “True Colours?” As if beholding a flag of one’s own country is somehow a barbaric act, rather than one of pride. Where were the offended writers when Geri Halliwell made headlines by wearing her Union Jack dress on stage? Or are we to set different standards for different public figures?
On the 28th June 2019, rapper Stormzy, headlined at Glastonbury wearing a Union Jack vest. Neo-Nazi Morgoth made a video comparing the positive reaction to Stormzy’s Union Jack (which he claimed was promoting multiculturalism) to the negative reaction to Morrissey’s Union Jack (which he claimed was promoting white pride).
Morgoth’s circle had already been trying to link themselves to Morrissey online.
And Central is known to post things that have been recommended to them.
On the 30th of June 2019 Central posted the video without comment under the headline Nothing But Blue Skies For Stormzy… the Gallows for Morrissey.
Morrissey has never mentioned Stormzy or Morgoth. Central posted a picture of Kirsty MacColl on the same night and then nothing until July 8th when Morrissey penned a sweet tribute to Blue Rondo.
Morrissey is too locked in his own world to give the far right reach, so it must have delighted them that Billy Bragg took up their cause. Taking their ideology – which Morrissey has never espoused – to as wide an audience as possible as he sought to have Morrissey and his art entirely erased from public life.
Naturally Finsbury Park was brought up.
Which he’d also used to call Morrissey a hypocrite for being against the flag-waving jingoism of the London Olympics.
His campaign had started before the video.
And no one in the UK arts and media establishment has decried the Spectator’s TV critic, James Delingpole, for having Morgoth on his podcast.
Central has stayed a source of controversy, mainly because of the determination to interpret everything Morrissey says as racist, and SER’s interest in anti-vaxx.
… Morrissey’s official website, which is increasingly reading like the work of a conspiracy-driven right-wing nutjob. (Ryan Leas, Stereogum, 16th November 2020)
The alt to far right has mostly given up on Morrissey. Sometimes a post or trending topic raises their hopes but it passes.