National Front Disco

In 1992, Morrissey’s album Your Arsenal, had a track called The National Front Disco.

The National Front was a fascist political party founded in the UK in 1967.

In the 1970s they tried to appeal to youths via social events like football matches and discos, eventually becoming associated with punks, skinheads and hooligans.

They were violently homophobic & opposed Irish Republicanism.

Every adult in Morrissey’s family had been born in Ireland – it’s abusrd to think that he would be singing ‘England for the English’ as a political statement.

And Your Arsenal’s homoeroticism is obvious.

It had a variety of inspirations or antecedents – Bill Buford’s Among The Thugs that described a homoerotic National Front Disco in Bury, Nick Knight’s photoessay Skinhead, skinhead bands like Bradford, Angelic Upstarts, & Cockney Rejects, the photographs of Derek Ridgers, Derek Jarman’s film Jubilee & the pulp novels of Richard Allen.

And it’s a narrative about family and friends losing a young man to the attractions of Nationalism. If they’re losing him, they must see Nationalism as repulsive. So you could easily imagine it as family and friends in a homophobic society losing a young man to the hedonism of the gay scene.

Art comes from clashing opposites and Morrissey’s celibate kindess has always run alongside his facination with sex & violence. A juxtaposition that makes sense when you consider that gay feelings were so taboo during his teenage years in the 1970s that they had to be exlored through male friendships, psychology, crime and celebrity scandal. The people who hated and policed gay people, made them the most visible.

In the Smiths his celibate kindness was foregrounded, in his solo years there was increasing moral panic about the nature of the sex & violence.

The faint hint of homoeroticism around ‘The Last of the International Playboys’, the first promotional video on ‘Hulmerist’, opens a whole different can of worms. Is the tee shirt thing a big, sick joke – the celebrated celibate getting his kicks sticking to the sweaty skin of every boy and girl in the hall? (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 26 May 1990)

In August 1992 Morrissey played a gig with Madness at Finsbury Park. It was reported that the crowd threw missiles and yelled homophobic slurs like ‘poofy bastard’. Morrissey finished his set, but refused to return for the next date. This refusal was widely condemned in the music press culminating in the NME running an article accusing him of encouraging racism with his ‘fascist iconography’ – a union jack and a picture of two female skinheads – and citing The National Front Disco as the latest of a series of racist statements in his interviews and lyrics, none of which are actually racist.

In The Observer, December 1992, Robert Chalmers, thought he was ‘perversely attracted to the iconography of the far right.’

Morrissey said: ‘I like the flag. I think it’s very attractive. When does a Union Jack become racist?… The National Front interests me, like it interests everyone. Just as all manner of sexuality interests everyone. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to take part.’

Billy Bragg was guoted saying ‘I don’t think Morrissey has ever quite got his politics worked out… The real problem with neo-fascist symbolism’ – that’s two girls and the UK’s official flag on a stage with a poofy bastard – ‘is that it is extremely difficult to retain an attitude which is neutral or ironic, which is what I think he is attempting to do.’

Except Morrissey’s politics were clear at the time. He hated Mrs Thatcher. He said he was a socialist. Much of the left shared his dislike of American hegemony and saw the European Union as a continuation of Imperialism. And while he was never keen on benefits and boycotts, he had dutifully turned up.

Beyond wanting to give him a kicking for not fulfilling professional engagements, and a desire to protect the reputation of men’s men, Madness, there was a suspicion that it was a kink.

Unlike safe showbiz gays who played into gay stereotypes (Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes to Hollywood) or kept their inclinations private (George Michael, Freddie Mercury) Morrissey was queering masculine things like football & gangsters – violating boundaries that were put in place to reassure men that they were men. One way to rationalise the discomfort was to put him ‘beyond the pale’ – smear him as a child molestor or a racist – or contain him by framing it as ironic or neutral.

Morrissey of course – cannot be contained.

On A Side Note: the media doesn’t even try to hide their double standards – homophobia runs so deep that it’s like breathing.

They’re happy to wax nostalgic about larky bad boys regardless of violence, homophobia and David Icke conspiracy theories:

Mark himself had once had his head banged repeatedly against a wall by Elvis Costello’s combative manager, Jake Riviera; one of his former NME colleagues was set on fire by Rat Scabies from The Damned, and another was left gaffer-taped to a tree in a desert by The Stranglers… Being “duffed up” (as Mark put it) by disgruntled rock stars was, I realised, a journalistic rite-of-passage. Still, he recommended I call (Ian) Brown’s record company and tell them that their “talent” was going around threatening critics… Within two weeks of our phone “chat” came the infamous air-rage incident, when he threatened to cut off the hands of a British Airways stewardess, then hammered on the cockpit door as the flight came into land… Brown was arrested. (He was eventually sentenced to four months in Strangeways, of which he served eight weeks.)… And, a few months later, Brown launched into a bizarre homophobic rant… ”I don’t trust the British fascination with homosexuals… Violence comes from Romans, Nazis, Greeks – they were all homosexuals.”… How did the lead singer of such an epoch-defining band become a swivel-eyed Covid-denier and online truth warrior? Well, one could plausibly point to a heady cocktail of toxic masculinity, over-inflated ego and drug use… A more sympathetic reading is that the 57-year-old divorced father-of-three might not be feeling quite himself in this new normal™, as is the case with many of us right now. Brown’s “me against the world” complex could be heightened by his counter-cultural leanings, instinctive anti-establishment beliefs and estrangement from his former bandmates. (Michael Hogan, October 2020, The Telegraph)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/gonna-give-proper-manchester-kicking-ian-browns-journey-violence/

They will collect together anti-Morrissey songs that include homophobic lyrics because paraphrases of his ‘inflammatory’ statements make him fair game:

All you do is hate life and tell me about it. You’re a homosexual, just keep me out of it. All your music sounds the same
I don’t even like your art fag name. Cause I hate The Smiths and Steven Morrissey
(I Hate The Smiths, Ween)

That crybaby son of bitch, no-talent motherfucker/Bastard-ass dickhead, ball-flapping dicksucker/Baggy-shirted depressed Dean-loving bonehead/Making lots of money with boring songs like Suedehead. (Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse, Warlock Pinchers)

Slap that fag with a toe tag , If you won’t do it then I will. (Morrissey Must Die, Meatmen)

Shaking hands with Morrissey, Sucking cock in East Africa, Ask a lesbian for a fuck, Take a shower in…Auschwitz (Deathtime, Turbonegro)

https://music.avclub.com/viva-hate-15-anti-morrissey-songs-1798222021

They print homophobic anecdotes without fear of denting anyone’s career:

When Julian Casablancas (Strokes) has a drink” Jimi (Goodwin, Doves) warns “he goes nuts.” He launches into his favourite Strokes anecdote. Apparently the two bands were in LA having post-gig drinks in a British theme bar. None other than Morrissey was nearby, at a table with 3 girls. “It was fucking strange, man” Jimi laughs “He kept sending these girls over to say ‘Morrissey is sat in the corner if you’d like to talk to him’. He is dead shy, but it was like he was holding fucking court. We were like “We’re cool, tell him to come over and join us”. So he came over and sat down, and Julian started calling him a fucking faggot. I was like “just leave it out, Julian” and he was all “Jimi’s upset with me, man – what’s the problem?” and then he kept doing it! (NME, August, 2001)

Straight male rock stars can routinely demand everything from drugs to groupies, but Morrissey can’t get a towel:

‘He’s a woman in a man’s body… I remember a feeling of absolute revulsion standing at the side of the stage at the palace watching Stuart James, who’s a brilliant engineer, a good producer and a fine young man, scurrying across the stage with eight freshly cleaned towels for Morrissey.’ (Tony Wilson, The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan)

Their casual racism is just a snappy lead:

OK. So it’s not the same as having millions of Muslims baying for your blood, but being at the receiving end of a fatwah issued by Pop’s most vehement star is not an uninteresting circumstance in which to find oneself. (Hot Press, March 2001)

Captions can be in bad taste:

The Smiths, Johnny Rogan, 1994

And they never need to Pariah another hack:

No, because your Rabbi respects PIG ISLAM. (Julie Burchill, Independent, September 2014)

Julie Burchill, the funniest, brightest writer I ever met… (David Quantick, Le Document, July 2020)

It does in a way, and it’s nice in a way… but the change in England is so rapid… I would like the freedom to go around the world and be anywhere. So you have to allow others the same freedom, really. So I’m not sitting here saying it’s a terrible thing. (Morrissey, NME, December 2007)

I loathe him with a passion… Morrissey is a vile scumbag… a nasty, nasty man… I’ve been waiting years for Morrissey to trip himself up in the media. (David Quantick, Richard Bacon Show, Five Live, November 29th 2007)

The National Front Disco

David, the wind blows,
The wind blows
Bits of your life away.
Your friends all say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But they should know,
Where you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
That you’re going to . . .
Oh, oh, oh, going to . . .
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
“England for the English”,
“England for the English”.
David, the wind’s blown,
The wind’s blown
All of my dreams away.
And I still say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But I should know
Why you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National . . .
Ah, to the National . . .
There’s a country,
You don’t live there,
But one day you would like to.
And if you show them what you’re made of,
Ah, then you might do.
But David, we wonder,
We wonder if the thunder
Is ever really gonna begin,
Begin, begin
Your mum says,
“I’ve lost my boy”.
But she should know
Why you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National,
To the National,
To the National Front disco,
Because you want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
When you’ve settled the score.
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National