Pingate (wearing the badge of UK fringe party For Britain) happened as Moz was releasing California Son – a selection of left-wing protest songs from his childhood – plus genderqueer covers of Jobriath, Melanie & 5th Dimension.
He had always loved these artists. And had always believed that anyone with a message that disturbed the establishment would be excluded.
(From his autobiography, published in Penguin Modern Classics, 2013)
In 1971, I had watched helplessly as Buffy Sainte-Marie made her debut on Top of the Pops singing her own composition, Soldier Blue; a mannish white working shirt, and what were surely blue jeans, dogged determination in her brownish face, and the truth of it all in her eyes. “Oh, soldier blue, soldier blue, can’t you see that there’s another way to love her?” The ‘her’ is the land, and ‘the other way’ is minus bombs and military artillery. Or so I assumed. Serious artists rarely make the stages of Top of the Pops because the show is essentially light entertainment, yet this song of great depth has risen to number 7, and, light or not, the BBC are duty bound as a public service to air any song elected by the public. In the market-driven mush of British pop, there no continual place for Buffy Sainte-Marie with her carrion calls of loss and injustice. But there she is, and her am I, and the secret of song unravels. I discover Moratorium on the flipside of Soldier Blue, and this song has a fighting vocal over a lengthy stream of words that include the line “Fuck the war – bring our brothers home”, and I weigh my new love against the Willesden weediness of Greyhound, whose singer’s voice is ready to crack and fold at any second.
But by the time the album had been released he’d become keen on a gay Irish feminist vegan called Anne Marie Waters, who set up a party called For Britain, and who was claiming that she was being falsely accused of racism by the ‘loony left’ because she was speaking about the impact of religion (she’d previously been in the National Secular Society and the Labour Party) on women’s rights, gay rights, and animal welfare.
This chimed with his experience of being smeared as a racist at Finsbury Park in 1992 because the NME thought he had a gay fetish for racist skinheads and had incited a homophobic attack against himself to satisfy it, his experience of that scandal being used to condemn him as a ‘rogue Tory’ and a racist for very mild remarks about immigration changing London as it gentrified in 2007, which in no way called for immigration to be limited, stopped or reversed, and with his experience of being called a racist for mentioning halal slaughter when he rails against all animal slaughter all the time.
He didn’t think she was far right. And he didn’t think he was supporting a far right party. He thought Theresa May was antagonising Islamic State with draconian policies and that Anne Marie would stop the terrorism by bringing people together and would help animals, children and women by making sure there could be no religious veto applied to animal welfare laws, gay rights or women’s rights (something she was pushing heavily on social media).
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, Central, 20 April 2018)
In a kind of hideous vicious circle – decades of press smears that he was a far right racist had led him to believe that Anne Marie Waters wasn’t a far right racist, and his support for For Britain was taken as the final ‘proof’ that he was a far right racist all along.
The album was crushed.
The Guardian (24th May, 2019) could only hear slimey trolling – in what is, a very sweet & sincere album (there is no decade of contentious proclamations, there’s three decades of a few journalists sifting through his interviews & on-stage patter to find half a sentence to condemn him for, usually connected to his belief in animal rights or dislike of Monarchy or confusion about morality growing up in a world where he was a born sinner for not being straight).
Merseyrail removed the poster. Indie record stores banned his records. DJs stopped playing him. The press tried to harass his collaborators into denouncing him. And the moral panic got into full swing.