Guardian’s Hate Campaign

The person described by The Guardian Of Hate is not me, and their stance attributed to me is not mine. But, pleased be warned: they are having great fun and they will not STOP.

Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 10 October 2019

Morrissey with his “Fuck the Guardian” t-shirt. Bless him. If he’d fucked anything ever, he might be less of a liability.

Louis Barfe @AlanKelloggs, Twitter, October 27, 2019

The UK press started attacking Morrissey’s sexuality in 1983 by associating the songs Reel Around the Fountain and Handsome Devil with sex crimes against children.

The BBC have finally rumbeled the unpleasant truth behind ‘hip’ Manchester band, The Smiths. This trendy outfit, whose repulsive repertoire includes perverted paeans to child molesting, were having their scheduled-to-be-repeated David Jenson session looked into by Beeb officials as we went to press. To the the anger and embarrassment of many Sounds staffers, the band’s sicko songs, were first brought to the world’s attention, and in fact praised by David McCullough who described them as “the kind of ultra-violent crime rock’n’roll needs”. Try telling that to the mother of the Brighton boy recently gang raped by paedophiles. (Garry Bushell, Sounds, 10 September 1993)

By 1986 they’d found a way to hide their homophobia behind spurious racism/nationalism allegations which culminated in a five page denouncation in the NME after he was attacked by homophobes at a gig and they accused him of inciting it by holding a Union Jack for three minutes.

The men’s men in the crowd offer the opinion that Morrissey is a ‘poofy bastard’ and elevate many a middle finger… Who can even be bothered to feel any sympathy…? (Select, October 1993)

https://folk-devil.com/2022/07/21/sexually-ambiguous/

In 2007, he was interviewed in the NME by Tim Jonze.

London had recently gentrified and he was asked if he would move back. A few pull-quotes were used to make it seem as if he hated immigrants and wanted immigration to be stopped.

the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears

England was thrown away.

If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won’t hear an English accent. You’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent.

the gates are flooded. And anybody can have access to England and join in.

Morrissey, NME, 1 December 2007

When in fact – he was just saying that England had changed, he missed the past, but he was getting used to the rest of the world.

Isn’t immigration enriching the British identity, rather than diluting it?

It does in a way, and it’s nice in a way. But you have to say goodbye to the Britain you once knew.

That’s just the world changing.

But the change in England is so rapid compared to the change in any other country. If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won’t hear an English accent. You’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent.

That’s not true, you sound like a Tory.

Mmmmmm. I understand, because 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. I’m saying it’s a reality and to many people it’s shocking.

After the infamous race rowdo you not worry about talking about this?

Not really, because the more I travel the more I love the world as a whole.

Tim Jonze interviewing Morrissey, NME, 1 Dembemer 2007

The article connected his mild remarks to the homophobic article from 1992.

This is not the first time that Morrissey has trod clumsily around the area of immigration. At the start of the 90s there was a huge fallout between Morrissey and this magazine. On August 22nd 1992 NME’s cover featured an image of Morrissey prancing around on stage at Finsbury Park with a Union Jack flag

so there we leave it, shocked that 15 years on, we’re once again locking horns with Morrissey over the issue of cultural identity in Britain. Morrissey, the son of immigrants, who has lived for most of the past decade in either LA or Rome wants others to have the freedom to travel the world like him, but implies that he would shut the gates to people coming to live in the UKAt the very least it smacks of naive hypocrisy, but mostly sounds like the ravings of a rogue Tory MP. And at the very worst? Well, we’re certain that Morrissey would absolutely seek to distance himself from racist organisations, what he won’t realise is that the language he’s using about a ‘traditional’ England lost under a ‘flood’ of immigration dangerously echoes that used by the crypto-fascist BNP.

NME, 1 December 2007 –

https://folk-devil.com/2022/07/05/immigration/

The National Front/BNP was (and is) violently homophobic and anti-Irish Catholic.

later that same evening a thirty strong nazi goon-squad did attempt a “hit” on an Irish pub in Kilburn, North London. Portinari’s mate Charlie Sargent, the C18 boss who led the assault, claimed it was an attempt to “ethnically cleanse” the Irish out of North London.

Matthew Collins, Hope Not Hate, 7 February 2017 https://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/03/07/portinari-s-loyalist-murder-claim-is-only-half-the-dirty-story-about-england-s-loyalist-terrorists/

The Admiral Duncan atrocity hit LGBTQ people, although one of those killed was a pregnant woman who was having a drink with her husband, who was seriously injured. They were having a night out with two gay friends, both of whom also died… Within days of the Admiral Duncan bombing, a 22-year-old Londoner had been arrested and charged. He was David James Copeland, who had been a member of the far-right British National Party then, disillusioned by their lack of paramilitary action, joined the more hard-line National Socialist Movement. Even before the arrest, other right-wing factions had gleefully claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Will Stroude, Attitude, 29 April 2019 https://www.attitude.co.uk/culture/sexuality/22-years-on-from-the-admiral-duncan-bombing-neo-nazism-remains-an-ever-present-threat-298781/

The Aftermath of the Admiral Duncan bomb, 30th April 1999

A history that’s been erased by the UK media.

In the middle of this third night of four sold out London shows, Morrissey is about to reach the chorus of his melodramatic, sweeping ballad “Home is a Question Mark”, a highlight from last year’s album Low in High School, when a man at the front of the crowd unfurls a Union Jack flag, waving it proudlyThat this happened on the day that the NME’s final print edition was published added a mischievous undercurrent: the magazine’s criticism of Morrissey for waving the flag during a concert supporting Madness in 1992, the point at which all subsequent controversy is rooted, was the first sign that Morrissey’s halo was slipping.

(Shaun Curren, the Independent, 12 March 2018) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/morrissey-review-alexandra-palace-tour-dates-low-in-high-school-brexit-a8251746.html?amp

Accusations of racism have dogged Morrissey for years, of course, from his flirtations with fascist imagery in the Nineties (he famously sang “National Front Disco” at a Finsbury Park festival while draped in a Union Jack flag)… Morrissey’s defence following each furore invariably revolves around his misrepresentation at the hands of a hostile press, yet another symptom of the persecution complex that has been a feature of his life and career.

(Fiona Sturges, the Independent,  30 October 2019) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/morrissey-controversy-media-guardian-vest-the-smiths-johnny-marr-latest-a9177481.html?amp

In 2010 Tim Jonze became a music editor at The Guardian, from then on, the paper would use the same demonisation techniques as the NME – out of context quotes, negative framing, repetition, guilt by assocation.

Stories attacked his personality – he was nasty, cancelled gigs for no good reason, was an idiot.

Attacked his career – he was irrelevant, he had a terrible band, he was a bad writer.

And smeared him as right-wing, reactionary and a racist.

Journalists connected to the Melody Maker, the NME and the Guardian slandered him to the music industry and lobbied for colleagues, friends, and fans to drop him.

They wrote hit pieces in other publications – in particular the New Statesman and the Quietus.

Stories were amplified on social media and copy pasted by Spin, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, the LA Times, Junkee and other culture/gossip platforms.

What Is the Appeal of Morrissey in 2016? – …it finally seems like there is a level of peak Morrissey occurring, in which many people are finally giving up on him. Among my friends and colleagues, I know people who, years ago, would have fought his corner until they were a bloody ball of pulp and mush, but can now barely muster an exhausted sigh when it comes to discussing or defending him.

(Daniel Dylan Wray, vice, 24 August 2016) https://www.vice.com/amp/da/article/xdynnq/what-is-the-appeal-of-morrissey-in-2016

It was the Guardian that gave the allegations credibility and clout.

Being harassed by a left-wing newspaper convinced Morrissey that the left had switched places with the right and made him believe that a vegan politician – who had gone from the left to the far right – was also being lied about.

But also, it seems to me that, in England at the moment, the right wing has adopted a left wing stance, and the left wing has adopted a right wing stance, so everybody’s confused, and nobody seems to know what people mean. (Morrissey, Sam Esty Rayner YouTube channel, 17 December 2017)

Which escalated the Guardian’s attacks – and mainstreamed a far right ideology Morrissey has never endorsed in thousands of social media posts and copy paste articles.

Given the inexhaustible Hate Campaign executed against me by The Guardian and their followers, I am pleased with the UK chart position for “California son”… It is worth noting that their chief antagonist in this Hate Campaign is someone I took to court some years ago for writing lies about me. He lost his court battle then, and now he’s seeking his personal revenge by using The Guardian, who have been harassing everyone and anyone connected with my music imploring them to say something terrible about me for print. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 31 May 2019)

While Morrissey withdrew entirely from the mainstream media and posts statements and interviews on Morrissey Central, a website run by a relative, that tries to prove the Guardian wrong by posting videos and articles from far right sources that attracts the online support of white nationalists, thereby proving the Guardian right.

It’s not clear if this is misguided or if – as so often happens – Morrissey jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

Whatever the future holds – however it’s retrofitted – the racist allegations against him are a lie, and the Guardian did harass him, viz.:

1. Morrissey forced off stage at Coachella by smell of burning meat – Mon 20 Apr 2009 – Tim Jonze https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/apr/20/morrissey-coachella-meat-fumes

“I can smell burning flesh … and I hope to God it’s human,” he said. This was no mere wisecrack, though.

Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 20 April 2009

2. Morrissey in hospital after on stage collapse – Sat 24 Oct 2009 – James Orr https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/oct/24/morrissey-the-smiths-collapse-swindon

The former Smiths frontman Morrissey was rushed to hospital tonight after collapsing on stage at the start of a concert… “Everybody started booing, thinking ‘here we go again’. He has a bit of a poor track record for cancelling his concerts.” Morrissey has already cancelled a string of concerts this year due to an “unspecified illness”.

James Orr, the Guardian, 24 October 2009

3. Morrissey reignites racism row by calling Chinese a ‘subspecies’ – Fri 3 Sep 2010 – Alexandra Topping https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/sep/03/morrissey-china-subspecies-racism (racism, subspecies)

4. Morrissey Interview: Big Mouth Strikes again – Fri 3 Sep 2010 – Simon Armitage https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/sep/03/morrissey-simon-armitage-interview (racism, subspecies)

5. Morrissey, this joke isn’t funny anymore – Fri 3 Sep 2010  – Tom Clark –https://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/sep/03/morrissey-race-taboos-tom-clark (racism, subspecies)

A judge once branded Morrissey “devious, truculent and unreliable” and it won’t take long to reach a verdict on the latest case against him. He tells Simon Armitage in the Guardian’s weekend magazine that “you can’t help but feel the Chinese are a subspecies”, a remark even nastier than his miserable rant against immigration in England a few years ago. There really is no defence. Loyal fans might, perhaps, plead in mitigation that these cruel words were unleashed in outrage about the mistreatment of animals, but there are aggravating factors as well. He’s caused enough upset on race in the past to know perfectly well that he ought to take care with his public remarks. But he hasn’t. So if the charge is causing racial offence, the only feasible judgment is guilty.

Tom Clark, the Guardian, 3 September 2010

6. Morrissey’s parochialism echoes the whole indie tribe – Thu 9 Sep 2010 – John Harris https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/sep/09/morrissey-race-indie-back-yard (racist, right-wing, everything bad about Indie)

Last Saturday, there were small-scale tremors in response to an interview in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine, where, musing on the far eastern meat trade, he claimed that Chinese people are a “subspecies”. 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. Whenever he pipes up with this stuff, music writers express justifiable outrage, making an implied claim: that what he says is aberrant, a betrayal of a musical world that is open, cosmopolitan, and largely colour-blind.

… in his own gruesome way Morrissey embodies its contradictory collective id: a bundle of conservatism, parochialism and generic navel-gazing.

John Harris, the Guardian, 9 September 2010

7. You think David Cameron’s bad, Morrissey? Most of them don’t even like music – Sat 11 Dec 2010 – Suzanne Moore https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/11/suzanne-moore-morrissey-david-cameron (ranting)

8. Morrissey compares the Queen to Muammar Gaddafi – Wed 18 May 2011 – Casper Llewellyn Smith https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/may/18/morrissey-compares-queen-muammar-gaddafi (attack)

9. Morrissey currently without record deal – Tue 28 Jun 2011 – Sean Michaels https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/jun/28/morrissey-without-record-deal (complaining)

10. Morrissey likens Norway attacks to McDonald’s and KFC – Thu 28 Jul 2011 – Caroline Davies https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/jul/28/morrissey-norway-attacks-mcdonalds-kfc (connecting him to far right terrorism)

11. This charming man: Morrissey shows his sensitive side – Thu 28 Jul 2011 – Alex Petridis https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2011/jul/28/morrissey-likens-mcdonalds-norwegian-attacks?CMP=gu_com (doesn’t care about a far right massacre)

12. Is Morrissey a national treasure? – Sat 10 Mar 2012 – Peter Paphides and Sukhdev Sandhu https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/mar/10/debate-morrissey-national-treasure (he’s a troll)

13. Morrissey to receive apology from NME – Tue 12 Jun 2012 – Alexandra Topping – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jun/12/morrissey-receive-apology-from-nme (racism, subspecies)

Morrissey has been dogged by accusations of racism. In 1992, the singer was quoted in Q Magazine stating that he did not want to be “horrible or pessimistic”, but he didn’t “really think, for instance, black people and white people will ever really get on or like each other. I don’t really think they ever will.” The same year he appeared swathed in a union flag while on stage in Finsbury Park, north London, which led the NME to accuse him of “flirting with disaster” and racist imagery.

Alexandra Topping, the Guardian, 12 June 2012

14. Morrissey attacks ‘blustering jingoism’ of Olympic Games – Mon 6 Aug 2012 – Michael Hann https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/aug/06/morrissey-olympic-games

He has a long history of condemnation, including attacks on reggae (“vile”), Elton John (“bring me his head”), Band Aid (“diabolical”), dance music (“the refuge for the mentally deficient”), Chinese people (“a subspecies”) and many, many more.

Michael Hann, the Guardian, 6 August 2012

15. Elton John and Morrissey top the pop misanthrope charts – Thu 9 Aug 2012 – Peter Robinson https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2012/aug/09/celebrity-elton-john (hates humankind)

16. How Morrissey fell for the Stephen Colbert effect – Thu 11 Oct 2012 – Simon Hattenstone https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/11/morrissey-stephen-colbert-interviewer (subspecies, dictator, ridiculous vegetarian, tree poking out of backside)

17. Morrissey: from rock genius to internet troll – Thu 13 Dec 2012 – Alex Petridis https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2012/dec/13/morrissey-rock-genius-internet-troll (troll, mentally ill)

18. Morrissey ‘cautioned’ to stop touring – Fri 22 Mar 2013 – Sean Michaels – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/mar/22/morrissey-cautioned-stop-touring (tagged on scepticism about his record deal)

19. Morrissey cancels South American tour due to ‘food poisoning’ – Thu 11 Jul 2013 – Sean Michaels – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/jul/11/morrissey-cancels-south-american-tour-food-poisoning (cancelling a tour for unconfirmed reasons)

20. Penguin Classics: why are they publishing Morrissey’s autobiography? – Sun 13 Oct 2013 – Pass Notes https://www.theguardian.com/books/shortcuts/2013/oct/13/penguin-classics-morrissey-autobiography (snark about his writing)

21. Morrissey’s memoir: five things we would love to see (but probably won’t) – Tue 15 Oct 2013 – Michael Hann https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2013/oct/15/morrissey-memoir-five-things-like-to-see (Bengali in Platforms, subspecies, racism)

A Little Humility – Please, Morrissey, understand this: we all make misjudgments. To err is human, after all. True, most of us don’t make our misjudgments in public. But we do own up to them and apologise. So admit you got it wrong when you sang Bengali in Platforms, when you said Chinese people were a subspecies – admit that some of your incendiary remarks and actions, which so often touch on issues of race, were at best unwise. People still want to love you, so why make it so hard for them?)

Michael Hann, the Guardian, 15 October 2013

22. Morrissey’s Autobiography is nearly a triumph, but ends up mired in moaning – Thu 17 Oct 2013 – John Harris https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/oct/17/morrissey-autobiography-triumph-mired-moaning-review (moaning, unlikeable, supports gay gangsters)

23. Morrissey hits back at NME and the judge who called him ‘devious’ – Thu 17 Oct 2013 – Michael Hann https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/oct/17/morrissey-autobiography-hits-back-judge-nme (Finsbury, Jonze NME interview, subspecies… )

24. Autobiography by Morrissey – digested read – Sun 20 Oct 2013 – John Crace https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/20/autobiography-morrissey-digested-read (snark about his writing, narcissism, moaning)

I woke up one morning to discover that the Smiths were finished. To this day, I still can’t say how that happened. Though Johnny Marr stuffing my silly gladioli up my arse may have had something to do with it.

John Crace, the Guardian, 20 October 2013

25. Morrissey: eating meat is the same as paedophilia – Fri 3 Jan 2014 – Maev Kennedy https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jan/03/morrissey-eating-meat-paedophilia-smiths (linked to paedophilia, antisemitism, people wishing violence on him)

26. Hatchet Job of the Year goes to AA Gill for Morrissey broadside – Tue 11 Feb 2014 – Alison Flood https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/11/hatchet-job-of-the-year-aa-gill-morrissey-autobiography

27. Morrissey reveals series of cancer treatments: ‘If I die, then I die’ – Tue 7 Oct 2014 – Sean Michaels https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/oct/07/morrissey-reveals-series-of-cancer-treatments-if-i-die-then-i-die (tags on controversies about Harvest and Scottish independence)

28. Morrissey review – great voice, shame about the lyrics – Sun 30 Nov 2014 – Ian Gittens https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/30/morrissey-review-great-voice-shame-about-lyrics (animal rights, anti-machismo, anti-war, petty, grudges)

His baritone may still be rich and tremulous but Morrissey’s worldview is enough to make your toes curl.

Ian Gittens, the Guardian, 30 November 2014

29. Morrissey: Obama is doing nothing for US black community – Thu 27 Aug 2015 – Guardian Music https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/aug/27/morrissey-obama-is-doing-nothing-for-black-community (attacks Obama, highlights skin colour)

30. Morrissey attacks Australian plan to cull two million feral cats – Wed 2 Sep 2015 – Oliver Milman https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/sep/02/morrissey-attacks-australian-plan-to-cull-2-million-feral-cats (attacks)

31. Morrissey: what we learned about him from List of the Lost – Thu 24 Sep 2015 – Michael Hann https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/sep/24/morrissey-what-we-learned-about-him-from-list-of-the-lost (homophobic review of his novel, creepy, sex predator)

Morrissey writes about his track team in such a fetishising way. “Imperishable, they train insatiably, companions in pleasure and passionate in sentiments, they are the living picture of the desired physique.” (Ask yourself if a 56-year-old man writing in that manner about women in their teens or early 20s would be considered anything other than a bit creepy.) 

Michael Hann, the Guardian, 24 September 2015

32. Morrissey wins bad sex award for love scenes in debut novel List of the Lost – Tue 1 Dec 2015 – Nicola Slawson https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/01/morrissey-wins-bad-sex-award-fiction-debut-novel-list-of-the-lost

33. Morrissey dismisses Bad Sex award as ‘repulsive horror’ after win – Wed 16 Dec 2015 – Alison Flood https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/16/morrissey-dismisses-bad-sex-fiction-award-list-of-the-lost (snark)

34. Oh God! Morrissey talks about Galloway, Farage and Sadiq Khan – Thu 4 Aug 2016 – Hadley Freeman https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2016/aug/04/oh-god-morrissey-talks-about-galloway-farage-and-sadiq-khan (racism over Halal slaughter)

35. This Beautiful Creature Must Die: what is Morrissey’s animal rights game like? – Thu 11 Aug 2016 – Tim Jonze https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/aug/11/morrissey-animal-rights-game-peta-this-beautiful-creature-must-die-meat-is-murder (passive aggressive dig)

You’re tasked with having to save various animals as they move helplessly towards spinning blades of death (nobody could accuse the game of failing to incorporate Morrissey’s notoriously laidback and fun persona) while avoiding blowing up the various bombs that appear from time to time for reasons I don’t quite understand.)

Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 11 August 2016

36. Kanye West v Morrissey: battle of the fashion pop up shops – Sat 20 Aug 2016 – Richard Vine and Nazia Parveen https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/aug/20/kanye-west-v-morrissey-battle-of-the-fashion-pop-up-shops (slight dis)

He appeals to people who felt like they are a bit of a billy no mates. To people who are slight outsiders.”

Brendan, 40, from Stockport, the Guardian, 20 August 2016

37. Morrissey and the Misfits at Riot Fest review – old punks creak out hits – Wed 21 Sep 2016 – Mark Guarino https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/sep/21/morrissey-the-misfits-riot-fest-review (tardy, irresponsible, attacked Bernie Sanders)

38.Bruce Springsteen is a great songwriter – but that rarely makes for great memoirs – Tue 27 Sep 2016 – John Keenan https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/sep/27/bruce-springsteen-is-a-great-songwriter-but-that-rarely-makes-for-great-memoirs

(The juxtaposition of mesmerising songwriting and repellent prose is stark in Morrissey’s Autobiography. The author of some of the most original and exhilarating songs in rock history comes across as embarrassed by his back catalogue, contemptuous of every artist who crosses his path and convinced that the minutiae of legal wrangling over copyright is as absorbing to us as it is to him. In the wake of the Smiths’ breakup, he is – weirdly – offered roles in EastEnders and Emmerdale. Wisely, he declines: “Since I dare not be myself, I would surely be even worse as an actor,” he writes (and limited as a memoirist, we could add).)

John Keenan, the Guardian, 27 September 2016

39. MTV’s Videohead: directors spill behind-the-scenes secrets – Thu 13 Oct 2016 – Hannah Verdier https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/oct/13/mtvs-videohead-directors-spill-behind-the-scenes-secrets-madonna-lady-gaga-morrissey (slight dis)

Talking about his work with Morrissey on Alma Matters, he doesn’t mince words. “If I had to make a movie with Morrissey for three months, I’d probably just go quietly into a room and stab my eyes out with knitting needles,” he says. “But for a day or two with him hiding in the dressing room and crying and carrying on … it didn’t bother me one little bit.”)

Hannah Verdier quoting Matthew Rolston, the Guardian, 13 October 2016

40. Johnny Marr: ‘The conversation about re-forming the Smiths came out of the blue’ – Sat 29 Oct 2016 – Simon Hattenstone https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/29/johnny-marr-the-smiths-morrissey-simon-hattenstone (Smears Morrissey as right-wing)

41. Set the Boy Free by Johnny Marr review – the story of the Smiths, and after – Thu 17 Nov 2016 – Will Woodward https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/17/set-the-boy-free-johnny-marr-review-smiths-morrissey-memoir (hopes for digs, settles for Marr not liking Oscar Wilde)

42. The Smiths to release first single in decades – Thu 1 Dec 2016 – Guardian Music https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/01/the-smiths-release-single-the-boy-with-the-thorn-in-his-side-morrissey (illness, ageing, cancelling)

43. Morrissey rages at management after US tour cancelled – Mon 5 Dec 2016 – Guardian Music https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/05/morrissey-management-us-tour-cancelled (rages)

44. Desert Island Discs: 75 defining moments from 75 years of castaways – Fri 6 Jan 2017 – Stephen Moss https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jan/06/desert-island-discs-75-defining-moments-from-75-years-castaways (not negative – but reporting negativity)

66. The show made headlines again in November 2009 when Young interviewed singer Morrissey. His admission that he had contemplated suicide and his description of “self-destruction” as “honourable” produced complaints from families of people who had killed themselves.)

Stephen Moss, the Guardian, 6 January 2017

45. Bigmouth strikes again: row over Morrissey’s James Baldwin tour T-shirt – Mon 20 Mar 2017 – Danuta Keen – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/20/bigmouth-strikes-again-row-morrissey-james-baldwin-t-shirt-the-smiths (adds in all of the racism allegations from 1992 onwards)

The Manchester-born singer has found himself at the centre of a number of rows since the early 90s, after an incident when he wrapped himself in the Union Jack at a concert in Finsbury Park. It sparked a 20-year feud between the singer and music magazine the NME, which accused him of “flirting with disaster” for draping himself with the flag. “It has really got nothing to do with racism,” Morrissey said later. “It is to do with me.”

Danuta Keen, the Guardian, 20 March 2017

46. Morrissey attacks politicians and the Queen over Manchester terrorism response – Tue 23 May 2017 – Kevin Rawlinson https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/23/morrissey-attacks-politicians-and-the-queen-over-manchester-terrorism-response (links him to the far right murder of Jo Cox, claims he wanted immigration policy changed, links him to the far right)

In his statement, the former Smiths frontman claimed that politicians are safe from attacks, while the rest of the country is left vulnerable. The MP Jo Cox was murdered by a rightwing extremist last June… Morrissey cited government immigration policy among his complaints saying the prime minister would never change her immigration policy in the light of the attacks. It is believed that the bomber named by police, Salman Abedi, was British-born and from Manchester. Morrissey also appeared to suggest that politicians were afraid to refer to Abedi as an Islamist extremist. The claim that politically correct leaders routinely refuse to mention Islam when referring to terror attacks carried out by people holding a violent interpretation of the religion is common on the far-right.

Kevin Rawlinson, the Guardian, 23 May 2017

47. Sorry Morrissey, but love and resistance are our best weapons against terror – Wed 24 May 2017 – Suzanne Moore https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/24/sorry-morrissey-but-love-is-our-best-weapon-against-terror (it was one Facebook post that blamed politicians, the media, the Police and the Queen for a terrorist attack)

His incendiary comments suggest the Mancunian hero’s journey from icon to embarrassment is complete. Hate is not the answer to masculinity twisted by radicalisation

Suzanne Moore, the Guardian, 24 May 2017

48. Manchester is a city of live music and good times. That’s why this hurts so much – Mon 29 May 2017 – Carol Birch https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/29/terrorism-manchester-music-gigs-morrissey-anger-arena (sympathetic – but accepts the narrative that he’s awful – also – he made one Facebook post, the press has written about terrorism thousands of times)

I disagree with him on most things, but I understand his anger, and it interested me to notice that, on parts of social media at least, more vitriol seemed to have been deposited on his confused head than on that of the bomber. Over the past week so much loathing has been directed towards this silly, sulky man, clinging to his lost adolescence and floundering in the dregs of his contrarian genius. A friend suggested this is because Islamic State and their ilk are so far beyond the pale that being angry with them was like being angry at the devil – pointless. Whereas Morrissey is just a silly old human and meant to abide by different rules. So we meet anger with anger, and hate with hate. Some pretend they’re immune but very few are. Whether directed at the bomber, the government, the extreme right or left, or misguided ranters like Morrissey, anger is the zeitgeist.)

Carol Birch, the Guardian, 29 May 2017

49. DIY political websites: new force shaping the general election debate – Thu 1 Jun 2017 – Robert Booth https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/01/diy-political-websites-new-force-shaping-general-election-debate-canary (not quite negative – although it associates him with Islamophobia – it does reveal some of the economics behind sensationalised stories)

Breitbart London is the UK branch of the “alt-right” website in Washington owned by Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and cited as a huge influence in Trump’s win. It publishes a large volume of news about immigration issues in Europe and radical Islam. But it had its biggest UK hit last week with: “Morrissey rips British politicians after Manchester attack: ‘petrified’ to admit Islamic extremism behind terror.” It was shared 25,000 times.)

Robert Booth, the Guardian, 1 June 2017

50. Morrissey claims he was held at gunpoint by police officer in Rome – Wed 5 Jul 2017 – Agence France-Presse in New York – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/05/morrissey-claims-he-was-held-at-gunpoint-by-police-officer-in-rome (sceptical tone – also mentions the time he reported being sexually assaulted by a security offficer at an airport)

51. Do we really need a Morrissey biopic right now? His England is not ours – Mon 10 Jul 2017 – Rachel Aroesti https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/10/morrissey-england-is-mine-biopic (smears him as right-wing, racist and sexist, and blames Morrissey – whose career has been held back by homophobia – for the domination of white males in guitar music)

Due to his huge success, Morrissey is the apotheosis of the problem this causes – namely, that the white, male voice has the monopoly on articulating the human condition, and therefore pretty much defining what it is to be a person.

Rachel Aroesti, the Guardian, 10 July 2017

52. When did charming become cranky? Why a middle-aged Morrissey is so hard to love – Sun 23 Jul 2017 – Dorian Lynskey https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/23/morrissey-when-did-charming-become-cranky-smiths-england-is-mine (racism, guilt by association, misleading quotes)

Ten years ago Morrissey was quoted in the NME as complaining about immigration: “Although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears.” He sued the magazine for defamation (“I abhor racism and oppression or cruelty of any kind”) and donated £28,000 to Love Music Hate Racism, but the case was settled and the quotes were never retracted. In 2010 he called the Chinese “a subspecies” due to their mistreatment of animals. In 2013 he said he nearly voted for Ukip and liked Nigel Farage “a great deal”. He has described Brexit to an Australian website as “magnificent”. Such comments have exhausted the patience of many longtime devotees with progressive political views. After the Facebook post, Martin Rossiter, former frontman of the Morrissey-indebted band Gene, wrote an article for the online Quietus magazine called Why Morrissey Is Dead To Me. 

Dorian Lynskey, the Guardian, 23 July 2017

53. England is Mine review – generic Morrissey biopic saved by charming man Jack Lowden – Wed 2 Aug 2017 – Peter Bradshaw https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/02/england-is-mine-review-morrissey-biopic-the-smiths (he’s a serial killer)

The darker side to his personality is uneasily acknowledged by showing a book in his teenage room about the Moors murderers. His mate Anji (a nice performance from Katherine Pearce) picks this book up and asks Steven if he can imagine them “like that”. In the next moment she makes it clear she means imagine being the victims not the murderers, though it’s a microsecond of ambiguity that I think brings us closer to Morrissey’s troubled soul than anything else.

Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian, 2 August 2017

54. England Is Mine review – a Morrissey mope-fest – Sun 6 Aug 2017 – Wendy Ide https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/06/england-is-mine-morrissey-review (depression is self-pity and he needs a slap)

55. Songs for the eclipse – 10 of the best – Sun 20 Aug 2017 – Jim Farber https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/aug/20/solar-eclipse-america-songs-bonnie-tyler (mope, mocking a child)

56. Morrissey: new record will ‘capture the zeitgeist of an ever-changing world’ – Wed 23 Aug 2017 – staff and agencies https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/aug/23/morrissey-new-record-will-capture-the-zeitgeist-of-an-ever-changing-world (calls him outspoken – throws in the Manchester Bomb controversy – confused about what to make of him)

57. Morrissey rails against media on new single Spent the Day in Bed – Tue 19 Sep 2017 – Ben Beaumont Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/19/morrissey-new-single-spent-the-day-in-bed (rails, Sadiq Khan)

58. Morrissey claims Ukip rigged leadership vote to stop anti-Islam activist – Mon 2 Oct 2017 – Hannah Ellis Petersen https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/oct/02/morrissey-claims-ukip-rigged-leadership-vote-stop-anti-islam-activist

59. Morrissey fans are about to give up on him – Johnny Marr, please stage an intervention – Tue 3 Oct 2017 – Stuart Heritage https://www.theguardian.com/music/commentisfree/2017/oct/03/morrissey-fans-are-about-to-give-up-on-him-johnny-marr-please-stage-an-intervention?CMP=gu_com (he should be cut out of the Smiths)

60. Morrissey: Low in High School review – old greatness spoiled by ugliness and spite – Thu 16 Nov 2017 – Alex Petridis https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/nov/16/morrissey-low-in-high-school-review-old-greatness-spoiled-by-ugliness-and-spite

61. Morrissey: Low in High School review – mixed messages and misfires – Sun 19 Nov 2017 – Kitty Empire https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/nov/19/morrissey-low-in-high-school-review-mixed-messages-misfires (his worldview isn’t compassionate)

62. Hey pop stars! If you fancy getting political, read this first – Wed 3 Jan 2018 – Hannah Jane Parkinson https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/03/pop-stars-politics-lorde

(See also: Morrissey. In fact, the best piece of overall advice to give to pop stars on political issues is that whatever Morrissey’s position on it, take the opposite.)

Hannah Jane Parkinson, the Guardian, 3 January 2018

63. Former Smiths members cancel reunion concerts one day after announcement – Tue 23 Jan 2018 – Ben Beaumont Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/23/smiths-bassist-andy-rourke-denies-involvement-in-reunion-performances (“devious, truculent and unreliable” )

64. Morrissey review – aloof, obnoxious and proudly provocative – Sun 18 Feb 2018 – Graeme Virtue https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/feb/18/morrissey-review-hydro-glasgow (has to include insults – mostly likes him)

65. I’m with the band: meet the pitiful proteges of pop music patrons – Wed 28 Feb 2018 – Michael Hann https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/feb/28/music-patrons-proteges-kurt-cobain-kanye-west (terrible person, link to Morrissey fans are about to give up on him – Johnny Marr, please stage an intervention)

66. Morrissey review – this once charming man – Sun 4 Mar 2018 – Kitty Empire https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/04/morrissey-birmingham-live-review (irreversible decline)

67. Morrissey denounces halal meat as ‘evil’, and attacks May, Khan, Abbott and more – Tue 17 Apr 2018 – Ben Beaumont Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/apr/17/morrissey-denounces-halal-meat-as-evil-attacks-theresa-may-diane-abbott-sadiq-khan-isis-for-britain

68. Stephen Collins on Morrissey – cartoon – Sat 28 Apr 2018 – Stephen Collins https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ng-interactive/2018/apr/28/stephen-collins-on-morrissey-cartoon (frothing right-wing English bigot – deported from the planet)

69. Dave Haslam: ‘That music changed lives. It made Manchester what it is’ – Sun 13 May 2018 – Miranda Sawyer https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/may/13/dave-haslam-memoir-manchester-hacienda-sonic-youth-miranda-sawyer

Everything he was – informed, charming, gentle – he is the opposite now – uninformed, charmless, bitter and twisted.

Dave Haslam, the Guardian, 13 May 2018

70. Johnny Marr review – Manchester rock royalty wrests legacy back from Morrissey – Thu 17 May 2018 – Mark Beaumont https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/may/17/johnny-marr-review-islington-assembly-hall-london

Marr is now the guilt-free Smiths experience… elevated to a symbol of alt-rock righteousness…

Mark Beaumont, the Guardian, 17 May 2018

71. Morrissey expresses sympathy for jailed EDL founder Tommy Robinson – Thu 7 Jun 2018 – Ben Beaumont Thomas – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jun/07/morrissey-expresses-sympathy-for-jailed-edl-founder-tommy-robinson (linking him to the defunct EDL, racism, the far right, Islamophobia)

72. Who said it, Germaine Greer or Morrissey? Take our quiz – Fri 8 Jun 2018 – Martin Belam https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/08/who-said-it-germaine-greer-or-morrissey (selective quotes to smear him as bigot)

73. Johnny Marr: ‘A middle-aged musician nursing a hangover is a dead duck’ – Sat 9 Jun 2018 – Barbara Ellen https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jun/09/johnny-marr-interview-third-album-call-the-comet (question about Morrissey’s controversial views & link to Morrissey denounces halal meat as ‘evil’, and attacks May, Khan, Abbott and more)

74. Former Morrissey fans to stage anti-racism party in Manchester – Tue 26 Jun 2018 – Frances Perraudin https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jun/26/former-morrissey-fans-dave-haslam-to-stage-anti-racism-party-in-manchester (racism, Islamophobia, immigration, subspecies, tax exile, far right, divisive)

“I don’t feel the need to stick by anyone unless I agree with what they’re saying… Of course I disagree with what he’s saying. I don’t think that’s really a surprise that I would disagree with what Morrissey’s saying. I think everyone would expect that I disagree”.

Johnny Marr, Channel 4 News, 24 June 2018

75. Morrissey postpones July concerts amid racism row – Fri 29 Jun 2018 – Patrick Greenfield https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jun/29/morrissey-pulls-out-of-concerts-amid-racism-row (racism, Islamophobia, EDL, far right, cancellations)

76. A protest party is a fine riposte to the poisonous parody Morrissey is now – Fri 29 Jun 2018 – Simon Hattenstone https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/29/protest-party-riposte-poisonous-parody-morrissey-smiths-tommy-robinson

From the mid-1980s onwards, his utterances have been consistently rabid… For so long we Morrissey fans gave him the benefit of the doubt… But the warning signs were always there… nostalgia for old-fashioned Englishness can easily bleed into trenchant nationalism and worse. Which it has done. And now many of us are simply done with Morrissey.

Simon Hattenstone, the Guardian, 29 June 2018

77. Morrissey critic hails postponed UK gigs – Sun 1 Jul 2018 – Vanessa Thorpe https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jul/01/morrissey-critic-hails-postponed-uk-gigs (Dave Haslam protest – smears about racism, the far right being derogatory about Sadiq Khan’s diction – it’s only Morrissey’s haters who link Khan’s London accent to his religion and skin colour)

78. How to treat Morrissey? Stop listening to him – Sun 8 Jul 2018 – Stewart Lee https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/08/how-to-treat-morrissey-stop-listening-to-him-stewart-lee

I just didn’t want Morrissey in my home any more. And I couldn’t imagine any circumstances under which I would ever listen to him again.

Stewart Lee, the Observer, 8 July 2019

79. Morrissey to release protest-themed covers album – Tue 26 Feb 2019 – Tim Jonze https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/feb/26/morrissey-to-release-protest-themed-covers-album (racism, far right, persona non grata)

The guest list might surprise those who assumed Morrissey had become a persona non grata following his recent comments in support of the far-right political party For Britain and English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson. Speaking in 2018, Morrissey said of For Britain: “It is the first time in my life that I will vote for a political party. Finally I have hope.” For Britain was founded by anti-Islam activist Anne Marie Waters and has faced criticism for members’ links to neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups.

Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 26 February 2019

80. ‘I feel like I’ve been had’: Morrissey’s collaborators respond to his politics – Fri 1 Mar 2019 – Daniel Dylan Wray https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/mar/01/morrissey-collaborators-respond-to-his-politics (one negative response made to sound as if everyone has rejected him)

81. Morrissey announces career-spanning Broadway residency – Mon 4 Mar 2019 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/mar/04/morrissey-announces-career-spanning-broadway-residency (increasingly right-wing values)

82. World’s oldest record store bans Morrissey sales over far-right support – Thu 23 May 2019 – Ben Beaumont Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/may/23/worlds-oldest-record-store-bans-morrissey-spillers (far right, Islamophobe, EDL, subspecies, immigration)

83. Morrissey: California Son review – clumsy covers with a troll-like spirit – Fri 24 May 2019 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/may/24/morrissey-california-son-review-clumsy-covers-troll-like-spirit (sinister, slimy, wheezy, undead, preening, troll)

84. Morrissey posters banned by Liverpool’s Merseyrail transport network – Fri 24 May 2019 – Ben Beaumont Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/may/24/morrissey-posters-banned-by-liverpools-merseyrail-transport-network (far right, Islamophobe, racism, subspecies, immigration)

Toxteth resident Jack Dotchin told the Liverpool Echo that Morrissey’s opinions “offend me and a lot of other people. He’s very far right these days, going on about immigrants and being pseudo-racist. It’s just strange to think Merseyrail, being a public service for the people, is advertising someone with his views.”

Ben Beaumont Thomas, the Guardian, 24 May 2019

85. Bigmouth strikes again and again: why Morrissey fans feel so betrayed – Thu 30 May 2019 – Tim Jonze https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/may/30/bigmouth-strikes-again-morrissey-songs-loneliness-shyness-misfits-far-right-party-tonight-show-jimmy-fallon (racism, black pop conspiracy, far right, immigration, nationalism)

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, 30 May 2019

86. A love of diversity in the Madstock crowd – Mon 3 Jun 2019 – Letter from Gavin Alexander https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jun/03/a-love-of-diversity-in-the-madstock-crowd (claims the Madstock crowd loves diversity – they are on tape yelling at Morrissey that he’s a poof).

Tim Jonze’s otherwise informative article on Morrissey’s far-right attitude ( G2, 30 May) asserts that 1992’s Madstock contained “a significant fascist/skinhead element”. I can assure Tim that the majority of the 60,000 fans over that weekend shared Madness’s love of musical, social and ethnic diversity. Incidentally, Morrissey pulled out of the Sunday show after a bad reception the previous night, leaving us with the multiracial Ian Dury and the Blockheads followed by Madness. Great gig.
Gavin Alexander
New Malden, London

the Guardian, 3 June 2019

87. As a black teenager, I loved Morrissey. But heaven knows I’m miserable now – Thu 6 Jun 2019 – Jason Surtees https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/06/black-teenager-morrissey-racism-support-bigots (racist, bigot, far right, Islamophobe)

Britishness is an integral part of my identity too, as it is to most black and Asian Brits – including Muslims, who you clearly fear and loathe, partly because they eat differently butchered meat, partly because you think they’re terrorists and partly because – like the For Britain founder, Anne Marie Waters – they don’t fit your ideal of what Britishness should look like. 

Jason Surtees, the Guardian, 6 June 2019

88. Billy Bragg claims it is ‘beyond doubt’ that Morrissey is spreading far-right ideas – Mon 8 Jul 2019 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jul/08/billy-bragg-morrissey-rightwing-youtube-video-stormzy-brandon-flowers

Bragg drew attention to a new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a UK-based anti-extremist organisation, that said the nationalist “great replacement” theory that the white Christian European population is being replaced by non-European people is entering mainstream public discourse. Bragg claimed that Morrissey was helping to spread right-wing ideas. He continued: “Those who claim that this has no relevance to his stature as an artist should ask themselves if, by demanding that we separate the singer from the song, they too are helping to propagate this racist creed.”

Laura Snapes, the Guardian, 8 July 2019

89. Why one fan covered up his Morrissey tattoo with Sheryl Crow – Thu 25 Jul 2019 – Kari Paul https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jul/24/morrissey-tattoo-sheryl-crow-coverup (right-wing, Islamophobe, subspecies, links him to a sexual predator)

90. Morrissey ejects anti-far-right protester from Portland concert – Wed 2 Oct 2019 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/02/morrissey-ejects-anti-far-right-protester-from-portland-concert (far right, poor ticket sales, racist, Islamophobe, boycotted by Merseyrail and Spillers record shop, white nationalist)

91. Morrissey performs in LA wearing explicit anti-Guardian vest – Sun 27 Oct 2019 – Josh Halliday https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/27/morrissey-performs-in-la-wearing-fuck-the-guardian-t-shirt (far right, anti-Guardian, condemned by Billy Bragg, white nationalist, boycotted by Stewart Lee)

92. My minor role in Morrissey’s latest outburst – Wed 30 Oct 2019 – Jason Surtees https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/30/morrissey-outburst-hollywood-bowl-t-shirt (racist, linked to Trump’s America)

I felt personally betrayed by his repeated demonstrations of intolerance… I explained that the Guardian had shaped my identity from an early age as much as Morrissey had, because it stood up for marginalised people – as he once did – sought to uncover truths and spoke its mind… You see, Moz, your T-shirt should really say “Fuck all press” – as, sadly, that’s what you will end up with.

Jason Surtees, the Guardian, 30 October 2019

93. Johnny Marr scotches Smiths reunion rumours: ‘Nigel Farage on guitar’ – Thu 7 Nov 2019 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/07/johnny-marr-morriseey-smiths-reunion-rumours-nigel-farage-on-guitar (far right, Brexit, Islamophobe, immigration, white nationalist)

 Marr replied: “Nigel Farage on guitar,” appearing to rubbish the gossip by alluding to the incompatibility of his and Morrissey’s political beliefs… Billy Bragg has said it is “beyond doubt” that Morrissey is spreading far-right ideas. Marr is leftwing. 

Laura Snapes, the Guardian, 7 November 2019

94. How the artist Linder went from Orgasm Addict to Chatsworth House – Sat 18 Jan 2020 – Caroline Roux https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/jan/18/linder-post-punk-artist-retrospective-at-kettles-yard (tries and fails to get Linder to turn on him)

95. Morrissey: I Am Not a Dog on a Chain review – old man yells at cloud – Fri 20 Mar 2020 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/mar/20/morrissey-i-am-not-a-dog-on-a-chain-review (accuses Morrissey – a queer artist who has often talked about his sexuality and gender struggles – of hectoring gay and transgender people, evading responsibility, diminished reputation, never be as good as David Bowie)

Morrissey is often lost among the strident music as he hectors people afraid to be themselves: the high camp of Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know? torments a closeted bloke, while torch song The Truth About Ruth wields insipid rhyme to suggest gendered subterfuge. Morrissey knows exactly who he is: a victim…

Laura Snapes, the Guardian, 20 March 2020

96. Why are we talking about Morrissey and Buffy? Because cultural nostalgia is now king – Mon 6 Apr 2020 – Zoe Williams https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/06/why-are-we-talking-about-morrissey-and-buffy-because-cultural-nostalgia-is-now-king (links to a badly researched article that doesn’t understand queer or Irish Catholic history, and falsely claims that mass immigration from South Asia to Manchester happened after 1964 because Morrissey was born in 1959 after mass immigration and the premise needs him to be nostalgic for an England without any South Asians)

Tucked into a collection of essays, Futures of Socialism: Into the Post-Corbyn Era (shortly to be published by Verso), is the author Owen Hatherley’s Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before: A Study in the Politics and Aesthetics of English Misery. The thesis is that the Smiths were always a reactionary force, politically; the notion that they were straightforward progressives, then Morrissey suddenly became a supporter of the far right because of something he ate, is belied by a much more complicated picture.

Zoe Williams, the Guardian, 6 April 2020

97. ‘He was a groundbreaker and a visionary’: music writer Dele Fadele remembered: He was a rare black journalist on the British music press, whose NME pieces summed up the radicalism of Public Enemy and the dark side of Morrissey. So how did his death go unnoticed for two years? – Mon 14 Sep 2020 – Tim Jonze

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. That week’s NME was all set to go to press with Kylie Minogue on the cover but Dele was appalled by what he’d witnessed.” Itwas Dele’s finest hour,” recalls Andrew Collins, who along with then-editor Danny Kelly reworked the cover around Dele’s critical piece – an arduous process to do at the last minute back then. “He wrote from the heart – and, uniquely among the staff – from an actual vantage point. This was not a moment to be lily-livered and Dele seized the day. It was a turning point for Moz’s provocations. Dele wrote if not his most important piece, certainly one that gave urgency and weight to an otherwise hand-wringing situation.” While not as loud as some of the more politically minded music writers of the time, such as Steven Wells, Dele’s politics were resolute and, it is clear now, ahead of their time.

Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 14 September 2020

98. Matt Berninger webchat: your questions answered on Morrissey, Taylor Swift and infinite creativity – Tue 13 Oct 2020 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/live/2020/oct/09/matt-berninger-webchat-the-national-serpentine-prison (won’t let his child listen to Morrissey)

99. Johnny Rogan obituary – Thu 18 Feb 2021 – Charles Charlesworth https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/18/johnny-rogan-obituary (Rogan gets the last laugh)

100. Morrissey hits back at The Simpsons over parody: ‘Complete ignorance’ – Tue 20 Apr 2021 – Lucy Campbell and Ben Beaumont-Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/apr/19/morrissey-the-simpsons-parody-panic-on-the-streets-of-springfield (racist, subspecies, far right)

101. The rudest things they ever said about the Guardian – Tue 11 May 2021 – Rupert Neate https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/may/11/guardian-200-the-rudest-things-they-ever-said-blair-aitken (after 11 years of relentless smearing the Guardian claim they were only expressing dismay at Morrissey supporting the far right – which he didn’t)

102. Richard Ashcroft quits Tramlines festival owing to its Covid research – Tue 6 Jul 2021 – Ben Beaumont Thomas https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/jul/06/richard-ashcroft-quits-tramlines-festival-owing-to-its-covid-research (Covid conspiracy theorist)

103. Rick Astley on his Smiths covers gigs: ‘I’ll use a karaoke machine if I have to’ – Wed 22 Sep 2021 – Rich Palley https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/sep/22/rick-astley-on-his-smiths-covers-gigs-ill-use-a-karaoke-machine-if-i-have-to (oddly censored reference to Rick’s views on current Morrissey)

104. Rick Astley and Blossoms review – the ultimate Smiths karaoke shouldn’t work, but it does – Sun 10 Oct 2021 – Dave Simpson https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/oct/10/rick-astley-blossoms-review-smiths-karaoke-albert-hall-manchester (far right tag)

105. ‘No Jacket Required would be the soundtrack of hell’: the Rev Richard Coles’s honest playlist – Mon 10 Jan 2022 – Rich Pelley https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/jan/10/no-jacket-required-would-be-the-soundtrack-of-hell-the-rev-richard-coless-honest-playlist (can’t listen to Morrissey)

106. There is a fight that never goes out: Morrissey accuses Johnny Marr of using him as clickbait – Wed 26 Jan 2022 – Laura Snapes https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/jan/26/morrissey-accuses-johnny-marr-clickbait (Trump, far right, white nationalist, Hitler, rape apologist, immigration, boycotts, Nigel Farage)

Marr is a left-wing, teetotal vegan who runs 10 miles a day. Morrissey has descended into infamy for his remarks on race and politics.

Laura Snapes, the Guardian, 26 January 2022

107. Johnny Marr: ‘When I play Smiths songs I experience this huge wave of elation’ – Sun 6 Feb 2022 – Tim Lewis https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/feb/06/johnny-marr-fan-questions-fever-dreams-interview (how to deal with Morrissey)

108. ‘The Queen’s gone round the bend!’ – HM in pop, from Slowthai to the Smiths to Blur – Wed 1 Jun 2022 – Dorian Lynskey https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/jun/01/queens-gone-round-the-bend-jubilee-hm-in-pop-smiths-slowthai-stone-roses (reactionary)

109. ‘My life would be very different without the Fall’: Stewart Lee’s honest playlist – Mon 5 Sep 2022 – Rich Pelley https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/sep/05/stewart-lee-honest-playlist (can’t listen to Morrissey)

110. On 11 october 2022 they stealth edited an interview with Molly Rankin to take out a baseless assertion that Morrissey was spewing racist sentiments at this gigs and in the press – while keeping the misleading claim that he supports far right parties and a link to an article that repeats the homophobic lies about Madstock

.

In almost every interview that Rankin is asked about her influences, she brings up the Smiths – so I ask, Smiths fan to Smiths fan, how she’s coped with the last few years, which have seen Morrissey show support for far-right political parties and spew racist sentiment at his shows and in the press.

(Shaad D’Souza, the Guardian 11 October 2022 – Wayback Machine capture, 10:26:04) https://web.archive.org/web/20221011173848/https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/oct/11/alvvays-molly-rankin-interview-blue-rev

In almost every interview that Rankin is asked about her influences, she brings up the Smiths – so I ask, Smiths fan to Smiths fan, how she’s coped with the last few years, which have seen Morrissey show support for far-right political parties.

(Shaad D’Souza, the Guardian, 11 October 2022 – Wayback Machine capture, 17:38:48) https://web.archive.org/web/20221011102604/https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/oct/11/alvvays-molly-rankin-interview-blue-rev

The Queen Is Dead

On the 8th September 2022, Queen Elizbeth II of the United Kingdom, died. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-61605149

In the NME’s homophobic hit piece in 1992, they cited, the Smiths song/album, The Queen is Dead, as one of Morrissey’s ‘English Nationalist’ songs.

“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. (Andrew Collins, NME, 22 August 1992) https://folk-devil.com/2022/07/21/sexually-ambiguous/

Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between archers
Her very Lowness with her head in a sling
I’m truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing

“I say, Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?” Ooh, ooh, ooh
And so I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the 18th pale descendant of some old queen or other

Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?
Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?
As some 9-year-old tough, who peddles drugs
I swear to God, I swear, I never even knew what drugs were
Ooh, oh-oh, ooh

So I broke into the Palace with a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said, “Eh, I know, and you cannot sing”
I said, “That’s nothing, you should hear me play the piano”
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things

But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron
No one talks about castration, ooh, oh-oh, ooh
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty, ooh-ooh
(These are the things that kill me)

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair, ooh
(These are the things that kill me)
All their life, they make love and then pierce through me

Pass the Pub that saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Pass the Pub that wrecks your body
And the church all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Life is very long when you’re lonely

The Queen Is Dead, 1986, Morrissey

After the death of the Queen the song began to trend on Twitter, and it featured in articles about the pop music she inspired.

Only post-punk’s answer to Noel Coward, the lit-witty Morrissey, could take on the potential decline of the monarchy and the British press’ fascination with the Royal family with such icy, catty aplomb and sniper-like precision. (A D Amorosi, Variety, 8 September 2022) https://variety.com/2022/music/news/queen-elizabeth-ii-10-songs-beatles-sex-pistols-1235365273/

Morrissey has been slagging Queen Elizabeth for decades, almost too many times to count. Hell, it was even the name of the Smiths’ third studio album. Explaining what motivates his hatred for the royals to an Australian outlet in 2016, he said, “Monarchy represents an unequal and inequitable social system. There is no such thing as a royal person. You either buy into the silliness or else you are intelligent enough to realize that it is all human greed and arrogance.”  (Joe Lynch, Billboard, 9 September 2022) https://www.billboard.com/lists/queen-elizabeth-ii-songs-lyrics/her-majesty-the-beatles-1969/

It also led to more demonisation.

He’s a notable eco-fascist (no examples are given):

It must be stressed that the lead singer of The Smiths, Morrissey, is a notable eco-fascist with a series of very horrendous views. While you can debate separating the art from the artist, Morrissey’s reputation is not salvageable here. (Jamie Dunkin, We Got This Covered, 9 September 2022) https://wegotthiscovered.com/celebrities/queen-elizabeth-iis-death-brings-revived-interest-in-the-smiths-and-you-can-guess-why/

… some on the far right are adopting xenophobic, racist ideas about what’s causing climate change — ideas that are rooted in eco-fascism. Fascism can be defined in many different ways, but typically, the oppressive ideology has characteristics rooted in white identity and violence against marginalized people, such as Black and Brown people, immigrants, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. Vice describes eco-fascism as an ideology “which blames the demise of the environment on overpopulation, immigration, and over-industrialization, problems that followers think could be partly remedied through the mass murder of refugees in Western countries.

Adryan Corcione, Teen Vogue, 30 April 2020 https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-is-ecofascism-explainer

He’s a Brexiteer (he isn’t), his politics have turned sharply to the right (they haven’t), his sexuality is entwined with his entire blemished body of work:

But the feeling that comes off the song, the album, and the entire blemished body of Morrissey’s work is his signature blend of fatalism and doomed romanticism. As much as the lyric mentions breaking into Buckingham Palace to speak to “Her Lowness” (who haughtily declares, “I know you and you cannot sing”), “the queen” in the title equally refers to the dandy Morrissey, who’s waiting for his life to start, lost in reveries of third genders and indefinable sexualities. (Simon Reynolds, Pitchfork, 13 September 2022) https://pitchfork.com/features/article/rock-and-the-royals-essay/?utm_social-type=owned&utm_brand=p4k&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&mbid=social_twitter

He’s further to the right than rabid Royalists or anti-woke, Trump voter, John Lydon (he’s not):

Of her more famous detractors, John Lydon has gone out of his way to say he’s never had anything against her personally; Morrissey’s politics, meanwhile, are now somewhere to the right of rabid royalists. (Bob Stanley, LA Times, 11 September 2022) https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-09-11/queen-elizabeth-sex-pistols-smiths-british-pop

Fuck him:

Craig Jenkins, music critic for Vulture/New York Magazine, Twitter, 8 September 2022

Monarchy is more progressive:

Christopher M Frederico, Professor of Political Science and Psychology and Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twitter, 8 September 2022

He’s increasingly fash:

Danya Ruttenberg, Rabbi, editor and author, Twitter, 8 September 2022 – she cites the LA Times hit piece (24 October 2019, Morrissey is anti-immigrant and backs a white nationalist political party. Why don’t fans care?), which is based on the Guardian hit piece (Tim Jonze, 30 May 2019, Bigmouth strikes again and again: why Morrissey fans feel so betrayed), which was written by Tim Jonze, who wrote the 2007 NME hit piece (7 December 2007, Morrissey, Big Mouth Strikes Again), which was a rehash of the NME’s 1992 homophobic hit piece (22 August 1992, Flying the Flag or Flirting with Disaster?)

Side Note:

Dick Gregory, America’s last hope, dies, aged 84. He knew how all aspects of the human condition connect to politics. He was a man of thought and a man of action, when most of us cannot manage to be just one of either. He worked breathlessly – work, words, deeds. He demanded for all what was snatched by the few. He disturbed the White House, and he was too quick for the American print media. They will be pleased that he now ceases to be amongst us… as we are left with earth-threatening Trump, who will race into war in search of peace.

Morrissey, 20 August 2017, Switzerland, posted on his nephew’s Facebook page
Morrissey with Dick Gregory, posted on his nephew’s Facebook page, 20 August 2017

Side Note 2:

What A Creep podcast compared him to a wife beater (Ike Turner), and two alleged sexual predators (Win Butler of Arcade Fire, and Ryan Adams).

Morrissey has never been accused of physical violence or sex crimes.

Twitter, 14 September 2022

Right-Wing Conspiracy Site

Morrissey’s website, Morrissey Central, went live on the 28th March 2018.

It’s run by his nephew, S.E.R, a photographer.

SER in the orange dungarees

Aside from the occasional interview with Morrissey or a statement with Morrissey’s name and the date, most of the content is taken from social media.

By this point, Morrissey, had already been completely dehumanised by the press and on social media, and had been labelled a racist pariah. Central seemed to be scrabbling around for support, finding it on the hard right with the Spectator, the Post Millennial, the National Review, and alt-right YouTubers.

The site has James Baldwin on the landing page and a list of animal charities they’d like you to support, which doesn’t appear designed to further white supremacy.

But, it attracted the attention of 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.

Way of the World is a neo-Nazi account.

Morrissey’s oldest friend, James Maker, wrote a defence on Facebook – that indicated Morrissey was coming from a left-wing perspective – one that had concerns about human rights clashes within identity politics.

Is Morrissey a racist? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. In the forty years that I have known Morrissey, I have never once heard a racist epithet pass his lips. The terms ‘racist’, ‘fascist’, and ‘Islamophobe’ are so freely used nowadays against those whose opinions and worldview differs from our own, that they have lost their power and meaning. Also, there is a worrying trend on the Left that, ironically, echoes fascism in its intolerance of reasoned debate. One is not only ‘wrong’ in expressing a different opinion, but one is also now ‘evil’. I believe that calling Morrissey a racist is unjustifiable and wrong. However, if you want to run out of the house wearing a garment ill-suited to the elements in order to throw Viva Hate into the Manchester Ship Canal, then that is, of course, your right. In supporting Brexit, this does not make Morrissey an immigrant-hating ‘Little Englander’ who lives only to reverse the metric system and bring back steam trains. The truth is, there are myriad reasons why people voted to leave the EU. One of them is a mistrust of Brussels technocracy where unelected representatives make decisions that are arguably a matter for sovereignty. Patriotism and Nationalism are very distinct: the former is characterised by an affection for one’s country; the second is a more extreme and unforgiving form of allegiance to one’s homeland. Morrissey might be guilty of patriotism, but not of nationalism. Opposing Sharia Law in the UK, or FGM, or institutionalised misogyny—which is (trigger warning) widespread in the developing world—is an appropriate Western response borne of democracy and the development of civil liberties. It is neither racist nor Islamophobic. After all, if I were to move to the United Arab Emirates in search of a better life, I wouldn’t reasonably expect to be able to build a hot dog stand empire, serving pork products whilst dressed in a gender-neutral miniskirt. To oppose halal slaughter is to oppose slaughter with additional cruelty. The zakat tax payable for Halal certification is used by Islamic organisations to fund mosques and religious schools. Such is the many-tentacled nature of zakat, it is difficult to determine whether it is also being used to crowdfund Islamist extremism. There is a growing concern in some quarters that it might be. Hitler was indeed ‘Left-wing’ in the sense of incorporating the word ‘socialist’ into the party’s name to cynically draw voters away from communism and towards populist nationalism dressed as socialism. Hence, ‘Hitler was Left-wing.’ Morrissey was not suggesting that Hitler and Yvette Cooper (for example) share the same political ideals. The fact is, Left-wing totalitarianism looks little different to Right-wing authoritarianism — if you’re being oppressed, it’s the same experience. Again, is Morrissey a racist? My answer is an emphatic ‘no’. (James Maker, Facebook Post, 26 April 2018)

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, 30 May 2019)

Again, James Maker, defended him on Facebook.

In support of Morrissey: The truth is, there is a hate campaign which is artificial, fabricated and does not reflect the views of real people: people who attend concerts and buy records. ‘For Britain’ is repeatedly described as a ‘far right-wing party’, when it isn’t. It is run by an irish lesbian who opposes patriarchy. People are murdered on London Bridge, or children destroyed by nail bombs at concerts, or….the list is legion….There is a very much a problem linked to extremist Islam: its 21st-century core beliefs are still affirmatively anti-feminist, anti-LGBT, and anti-democratic. This is NOT anti-Muslim; it is anti-undemocratic; anti-patriarchy; anti-religious extremism. Morrissey was a contrarian in the 1980s and 1990s. and who saved many people’s lives—as many hundreds avow—through the messages of his songs., In 2019, he is still a contrarian. Yet, in the UK, he is a hate figure whom a British newspaper is bent upon destroying. For a person who could have given such pleasure to millions, over the years, this is very sad, indeed. (James Maker, Facebook Post, 1 June 2019)

On the 3rd of June 2019, Central posted a link to an article by Fiona Dodwell, that responded to the Guardian article, and 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? (Fiona Dodwell, Tremr, 2 June 2019)

On the 28th June 2019, rapper Stormzy, headlined at Glastonbury wearing a Union Jack vest.

On the 29th of June 2019 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). It was posted on YouTube, where it’s now set to private, and on Bitchute.

Bitchute, 29 June 2019

Morgoth and his circle had been trying to link themselves to Morrissey.

Central is known to post things that have been recommended to them.

from a post on fan site Morrissey Solo

On the 30th of June 2019 Central posted the video from YouTube, without comment, under the title Nothing But Blue Skies For Stormzy… the Gallows for Morrissey.

Speculation on Morrissey Solo, 30 June 2019

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 doesn’t speak to the media and isn’t on online so the post would have limited reach if Billy Bragg hadn’t spread the word as part of a public campaign to have Morrissey ostracised, something easily achievable in private, since he’s extremely isolated within the industry.

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.

2nd image: Twitter, 22 October 2021

During the pandemic, SER, became and anti-vaxxer and posted videos and memes that were against lockdowns, masks, and vaccine passports.

… Morrissey’s official website, which is increasingly reading like the work of a conspiracy-driven right-wing nutjob. (Ryan Leas, Stereogum, 16th November 2020)

Twitter, 23 December 2020, comment about a post on Morrissey Central on 22 December 2020, the video was against a Christmas lockdown, but also had anti-immigrant comments.

Twitter, 1 July 2021, the video is anti-vaxx.

On the 27th October 2021, Central posted two far right talking points in the same week they were circulating on the far right. One was a story about animal cruelty in vaccine labs, from Tucker Carlson at Fox News, the other was opposing vaccine mandates, from alt-right YouTuber, Tarl Warwick aka Styxhexenhammer666 (the 2nd video is now unavailable).

Morrissey Central, 27 October 2021

Mark Collett, leader of neo-Nazi group, Patriotic Alternative, Gab, 23 October 2021

Mark Collett, leader of neo-Nazi group, Patriotic Alternative, Gab, 23 October 2021

On the 27th July 2022, they posted a video by white supremacist, Black Pigeon Speaks, linking Morrissey’s song about the Manchester Bomb, Bonfire of Teenagers, to mass immigration. This was seemingly in response to a thread on Morrissey Solo where it was argued that the lyrics of Bonfire meant that there wouldn’t be a scandal about immigration. Black Pigeon had been posted on Solo on the 25th of July 2022 by Listening Loud, an unregistered user. https://shorensteincenter.org/anatomy-of-alt-right-youtuber/

from Morrissey Solo

On the 30th July 2022, Carl Eric Scott, a hard right Republican, published a substack on Bonfire of Teenagers that claimed it was a suppressed song, was about mass immigration and Islamism, and falsely stated that Morrissey had supported the far right anti-Islamic street protest group, the English Defense League. It was posted anonymously on Morrissey Solo on the 31st July 2022. And ciruclated on social media.

.. it is said he is racist, or “culturally racist,” or culturally insensitive, because he… voiced support for a group called the English Defense League, the EDL, back in 2013, and a few of its members were later proved guilty of physical attacks on non-whites… (Carl Eric Scott, Substack, 30 July 2022)

Twitter, 31 July 2022

On the 28th July 2022, Morrissey made a statement about Your Arsenal that cited “opinions” without saying what those opinions were.

It was a time when singers such as I were made successful by the people. Now, a harmony of all interests and opinions is not allowed in modern music, and this is why the music world is now dominated by singers whom most of the world cannot stand. We are trained to expect nothing from modern music. There are no modern songwriters of whom we can say ‘no one but you could have written that song.’ There are no modern songwriters to whom we can say, ‘you’ve really hit on something.’ All that happens depends on something already achieved by somebody else. Consequently, there has never been a time when people so desperately need a true projection of how life really is. From “Your Arsenal” to “Bonfire of Teenagers” I know that music remains more permanent than life. But there is far more to fight against now, in a music industry that allows only for one opinion everywhere. “Your Arsenal” in its 30th year tells me that we have nourished each other for a very long time, and we have come a long way together in a truly different and elevating journey. If I know, you must know. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central Instagram, 28 July 2022)

All of his statements go through Central.

On the 10th of October 2022 Central posted a link to a review in The Spectator that used Morrissey as a jumping off point to talk about Islamic terrorism. The headline, Morrissey is right about the Manchester Arena Bombing was changed to ‘Morrissey is the Rock’n’Roll Rebel We Need’. https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/morrisey-is-right-about-the-manchester-arena-bombing/

On the 28th October 2022, Breton La Villain, posted a Daily Mail article by Richard Littlejohn, that used the Spectator article about Morrissey to talk about Islamic terrorism, as well as being negative about immigration, animals, the poor and enviromentalists. Breton wrote that it made Morrissey out to be ‘far right’. https://www.morrissey-solo.com/threads/daily-mail-morrissey-article-bonfire-of-teenagers-manchester-bombing-october-27-2022.150168/

On the 29th of October 2022, Central posted it under the title, ‘Turnabout’. https://www.morrisseycentral.com/messagesfrommorrissey/turnabout

On the 27th of October 2022, Michael Edison Hayden, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, tweeted that American white nationalist website, VDare, was raffling tickets to see Morrissey in Washington.

VDare is against South American immigration to the United States; most of Morrissey’s band and his LA fanbase are South American. It’s also homophobic and transphobic, so it’s unlikely they’d support him if they actually knew him – but a mix of his press coverage and Central’s posting habits, is attempting to sell him to the American far right with a story pieced together from the NME’s lies.

He believes England is a distinct place that comprises a distinct people, reprehensible as they may be. But because his audience is large, loyal and international (he’s huge in Mexico!), he can galvanize opposition to non-white mass immigration without fearing cancellation… Notwithstanding his reckless blasts at Margaret Thatcher and Donald Trump, Morrissey is a patriot. Still making excellent records—California Son and I Am Not a Dog on a Chain—he is determined to defend England. And he’s pointing a finger at the left, where it belongs, for trying to destroy it. We Americans might be asking, “Where’s our Morrissey?” (Carl Horowitz, Vdare, 15 October 2022)

Sexually Ambiguous: Finsbury Park

The Sun, 30 July 1992 – ‘Lots of people I knew used to go gay-bashing but I never got involved. Ronnie Kray was an inspiration to me. He’s gay but nobody calls him a faggot. He’s probably the hardest gangster ever and that helped me cope in the difficult times’.

On July 29th 1992, Nicky Crane – National Front/British Movement skinhead and roadie for neo-Nazi band Skrewdriver; who featured in the same Nick Knight photo essay as the V-flicker on a Morrissey t-shirt – came out as gay on a UK Channel 4 documentary, Out: The Skin Complex, that explored gay skinhead subculture. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25142557

Nicky Crane. Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer, is based on his life. https://muswell-press.co.uk/product/children-of-the-sun/

On August 22nd 1992, the NME spent 5 pages denouncing Morrissey as a racist – for holding a Union Jack for 3 minutes and using an art print of two skinhead girls as a backdrop – while supporting headliners Madness, at Finsbury Park, on August 8th 1992, after he cut his set short and cancelled the next day’s appearance, due to the crowd throwing missiles and heckling homophobic abuse. https://illnessasart.com/2020/11/26/nme-22-august-1992/amp/

NME, 22 August 1992

Select reported the homophobia while blaming Morrissey for it.

Bad move one: he appears in front of a backdrop featuring two androgynous skinhead girls – one – perversely – resembling Carrie Fisher. The men’s men in the crowd offer the opinion that Morrissey is a “poofy bastard” and elevate many a middle finger. It’s boneheaded bullshit, sure, but nothing you shouldn’t be able to weather. Bad move two: Moz produces a Union Jack which he brandishes throughout “Glamorous Glue” as an art statement. This is a spectacularly stupid stunt, given the unwelcome right-wing following Madness always tried to get rid of and the putrid characters milling around outside. Thank God they can’t understand the words to “National Front Disco”… But contrary to his press statements, there was no hail of shrapnel to force a cancellation of the Sunday slot – just a reception that didn’t suit. Gallon Drunk stuck it out, didn’t they? Somewhere in the distance, you can hear The Farm, who would have gone down immeasurably better on this lads’ day out, laughing up each others’ sleeves. Who can even be bothered to feel sympathy for Morrissey? Perhaps we’ll see an end to his terribly modish flaunting of skinhead imagery. Perhaps he’ll learn that you can treat your fans with cavalier disdain once too often (most of the unfortunate Moz kids have bought tickets for Sunday – Glastonbury part 2). Or perhaps he’ll just emigrate. (Select, October 1992)

He certainly got a hard time from the homophobes, but nothing the most acid tongue in pop couldn’t handle. (Select, January 1993)

Morrissey at Madstock, 8th August 1992

The Independent didn’t pick up on anything untoward with his imagery – but blamed the crowd’s negative reaction on his lack of 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) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/rock-cracking-the-nutty-boys-beery-nostalgia-laddish-boisterousness-and-a-bunch-of-ordinary-blokes-andy-gill-on-madness-in-finsbury-park-1539470.html

From the start of his career, he rejected or invented labels for his gender and sexuality – and in the early/mid 1980s he said he was celibate.

Prince says he isn’t… Michael Jackson says it’s a sin. Elton John is married… David Bowie says he was never even bisexual… Lou Reed is maritally heterosexual… Little Richard [and] Donna Summer are on the anti-gay trail… music… has gone homophobic… And there’s also Morrissey, who’s … yes, gay... ensconced in a corner of Salisbury, a gay London pub… Morrissey, spoke with THE ADVOCATE: What do you mean by the fourth gender? I think labels are too restrictive. Like everyone is either heterosexual or homosexual. People are simply sexual. Do gay musicians say they’re celibate to appease the homophobic segments of the public? It may well enter into that, if it’s a lie. Certainly celibacy has a spiritual attractiveness… like a little halo. Is it harder to get into the media if one is gay, rather than noncommittal? It is more difficult. What was your childhood like? Wonderful… the teenage years were rotten… hormones divided us into camps, and as any gay person knows, that’s the time you start losing friends – or those you thought were friends. And then those professional heterosexuals, those people in those boxes, are closed to you for life. (Morrissey, interviewed by George Hadley-Garcia, the Advocate, 16 October 1984) https://illnessasart.com/2021/07/13/the-advocate-16-october-1984/

His imagery was often coded as gay.

As Oscar Wilde himself once said – Jesus bleedin Christ!!!… And… the whole thing is punctuated by shots of rather hunky young schoolboys whose commendably formal uniforms are augmented by six-inch-high-heel shoes! (Danny Kelly, NME, 1 April 1989)

In 1991, he toured with the Jewish, lesbian, singer, Phranc.

Morrissey and Phranc, 1991

In a Facebook post in 2021, his guitarist and co-songwriter, Alain Whyte, wrote that the crowd hated Morrissey because they thought he was queer.

Alain Whyte, Facebook post, 27 October 2021

The NME’s hit piece made a direct link between sexuality and racism, with one paragraph echoing publicity surrounding the Channel 4 gay skinheads documentary.

Caucasian Rut: A child in a curious phase…“? (NME, 22 August 1992) 

Being gay or bisexual was (and sometimes still is) described as a phase. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/12/25/being-gay-is-just-a-phase-show-them-this-viral-twitter/ )

At one extreme, Kylie Minogue miraculously transforms herself from the jovial girl-next-door to a strutting nymphet who cavorts lustily with black ‘dancers’ to suggest risky sexuality. And, at the other extreme, Steven Patrick Morrissey undergoes a gradual metamorphosis from a miserable, loveless outsider with a sense of humour to a miserable, loveless outsider who flirts with racist imagery. (NME, 22 August 1992)

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, 26 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, 22 August 1992)

They falsely claimed that most football hooligans were affiliated with the NF and BNP, and deliberately misrepresented We’ll Let You Know.

We may seem cold
Or we may even be the most depressing people you’ve ever known
At heart, what’s left, we sadly know
That we are the last truly British people you’ve ever known
We are the last truly British people you will ever know
You’ll ever, never, want to know
(We’ll Let You Know, Steven Morrissey/Alain Whyte)

We’ll Let You Know’ is ostensibly a love song to football hooligans, casting them as “the last truly British people you’ll ever know”, which wouldn’t be that irritating if you didn’t realise that a significant percentage of them are also NF or BNP affiliated. (NME, 22 August 1992)

A review in the Melody Maker falsely claimed that Morrissey was holding the Union Jack while singing the National Front Disco as supporters shouted Sieg Heil – so the NME’s admonition that he had racist friends and liked outsider trappings could come from that – or it could point to Nicky Crane.

Sally Gunnell, winning Gold in 400m hurdles, 6 August 1992, Barcelona Olympics

Morrissey is, despite all hopes, despicable… Look, Steven, if you’ve just run 100 metres in 9.98, you can have some sort of vague, if dubious, claims to wearing a Union Jack around your shoulders. If you’re singing the National Front Disco and getting too scared/weary to put inverted commas around the England for the English bit, while Sieg Heils butter you up down the front, don’t expect much sympathy… (Paul Mathur, Melody Maker, 15 August 1992)

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Morrissey is a racist. He just likes the trappings and the culture that surround the outsider element. He has some racist friends. And if he carries on this way, he’ll have thousands more. (NME, 22 August 1992)

Cover of Your Arsenal, often described as “homoerotic“, the album’s track listing included the National Front Disco & We’ll Let You Know.

A gay skinhead fantasy had appeared in Square Peg, a left-wing queer interest magazine, published by a collective of gay men who met at a gay nightclub, The Bell, in King’s Cross, where Morrissey, Derek Jarman, Michael Clark, and Nicky Crane were also, at one time, regulars. https://web.archive.org/web/20180711231035/http://www.gayinthe80s.com/2017/09/pub-bell-kings-cross-london/

Michael Clark, skinhead and dancer. Morrissey would namecheck Clark’s 1987 ballet, ‘Because We Must’ , before singing the National Front Disco in his video Introducing Morrissey, filmed on the 7th and 8th of February 1995. https://flash—art.com/2021/01/something-like-saturn-michael-clark/

Why I’m a Skin: I grew up in remotest and desolate suburbia… Untidy, shy and eccentric, I was first bullied, then ignored… I discovered… what respectable men did with each other in toilets. I joined in with enthusiasm. At school I was Charles Laughton. In the cottages I was James Dean… The skinhead is beyond fashion and cannot be assimilated… This animal’s only secondary sexual characteristics are his braces worn up to exaggerate the width of the shoulders, down to emphasise the curve of the bum… He is pure sex… He is an anarchist, not because he rejects the rules, but because they cannot be applied to him. (Square Peg, No 12, 1986) https://tenderbooks.co.uk/products/square-peg-magazine-a-complete-run-with-related-ephemera?variant=39743140561080

I just felt towards all these figures in popular music who were trying to be gay and outrageous – why does it always have to be so shocking? I think ‘This Charming Man’ was the most revolutionary single in popular music in that area – I’m really quite convinced of it, because it was all just completely natural about male relationships, it was nice and natural, but it wasn’t banal. (Morrissey, Square Peg, No. 6, 1984) https://illnessasart.com/2020/01/06/square-peg-no-6-august-1984/

A union jack flag was used in the video for The Queen Is Dead, directed by Derek Jarman, 1986.

Derek Jarman, left. OutRage! gay rights march, 6 February 1992 https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/derek-jarman/

Morrissey/Smiths fans with a Queen Is Dead Union Jack, Wolverhampton gig, 22 December 1988.

Union Jack boxer shorts, Outrage! gay rights protest, April 1992

In 1981, Nicky Crane’s picture was used on the cover of a compilation album, Strength Thru Oi, that was released by Sounds magazine, causing a scandal over his neo-Nazi connections, and the allusion to the Nazi slogan strength through joy. He also appeared in gay porn films and worked with transgender singer-songwriter, Genesis P-Orridge.

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)

Nicky Crane on Psychic TV : https://timalderman.com/2018/04/30/gay-history-a-contradiction-in-terms-nicky-crane-and-kevin-wilshaw-gay-neo-nazis-part-1/

In 1984, Nicky led an attack on left-wing skinhead band, the Redskins, at a GLC benefit gig. The Smiths were on the bill. He was also working for, Gentle Touch, a firm that provided security for left-wing and gay events. In 1986, he marched at gay pride, under a ‘gay skins’ banner. When asked, gay pride organisers, said they felt it was ok because he’d been seen kissing an Afro-Caribbean man.

https://www.gale.com/binaries/content/assets/gale-uk-en/export/primary-sources/nicky-crane-case-study-_-political-extremism.pdf

Morrissey, left-wing GLC leader Ken Livingstone, singer Mari Wilson http://transpont.blogspot.com/2013/12/nicky-crane-and-1980s-se-london-nazis.html : https://pasttenseblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/today-in-londons-radical-history-striking-miners-anti-fascists-beat-off-nazi-attack-on-glc-festival-1984/amp/

Ken Livingstone and the GLC had been under fire for giving money to gay organisations.

Private Eye, January 1982 https://huw.substack.com/p/poove-power-part-ii

Including a gay skinhead disco.

Out, 1985. The Moonstomp Disco, was organised by gay skins at the GLC funded, Lesbian and Gay Centre, London.

The National Front/British Movement/BNP were violently homophobic, assaulting and murdering gay people, attacking and bombing gay events and venues. And had been rocked by gay scandals.

Those naked Nazis: I am somewhat pleased to see the National Front arseholes scratching each other’s eyes out over the Martin Webster scandals. John Tyndall is so so upset about Webster’s homosexual image that he’s formed a breakaway NF organisation and is openly slagging Webster in his publication, Spearhead. It seems he accuses the Front of being full of queers and morally corrupt and that Webster is giving the Front A BAD NAME! It’s okay to smash someone’s head in, but it’s the biggest crime of all to be gay. (Zipper, 24 October 1980)

In 1999, the BNP, nail bombed the Admiral Duncan, a gay pub in London, Soho. Three people were killed. The law in the UK was so homophobic, that it wasn’t prosecuted as a political act of terrorism, but was classed as a personal animosity to gay men. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-47216594

When Crane came out as gay, he was disowned.

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, Last Chance fanzine, 1992) https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/05/skinheads-christmas-far-right-archive-1985

NME Caption: Morrissey “Jacks off” (slang for sex acts, usually performed on/by a male), NME, 22 August 1992

After the Madstock gig – Morrissey’s press office blamed “projectiles” thrown by a “National Front skinhead” for his refusal to play the next day. Morrissey reportedly said it was “too dangerous” (NME, 22 August 1992).

Madstock’s promoter, Vince Power, blamed the backdrop and the Union Jack, “in a way he got the audience he was looking for” (NME, 22 August 1992).

NME caption: Stop this shit now, Morrissey! NME, 22 August 1992

Peter Hooton, thought it was payback for his band, the Farm, being dropped from the bill, for not being “manly” enough, “I was amazed at the Morrissey camp’s reaction. He’s dealing with contentious stuff, flirting with right wing views in front of a Madness crowdhe’s a very sad and mixed-up man.” (NME, 22 August 1992)

Oi, Oi, not how “the lads” behave, NME, 22 August 1992

Flowered Up’s keyboard player, Tim Dourney, said Morrissey was “asking for a bit of trouble. Maybe he thought he could win over the skinhead contingent but you’re going to put backs up prancing around like that.” (NME, 22 August 1992)

Derek Ridgers worried that the girls who WERE racist imagery (to the NME) were being used in a distasteful or demeaning way. “Being a Morrissey fan I thought he’d use them in a tasteful way. My main concern was that it wasn’t going to be demeaning to people in the picture.” (NME, 22 August 1992)

the ‘racist imagery’ , Morrissey, at Madstock, 8 August 1992

The NME admitted that the National Front was in London on the 8th of August to confront a Troops Out march – but deliberately skipped over the National Front’s hostility to Irish Catholics and Irish Republicans, didn’t mention that Morrissey had expressed Irish Republican sympathies, gave the wrong impression that his ‘ethnic group’ was English (he’s Irish Catholic), and used the skinhead backdrop and the Union Jack to directly connect him to the National Front – with their skinhead membership and their Union Jacks.

Morrissey’s affection for the skinhead and nationalist imagery was given its most public display ever at Finsbury Park. With Derek Ridgers’ skinhead photos used as a backdrop, he waved and wrapped a Union Jack flag around his torso. Meanwhile, outside the park’s perimeter, Union Jacks were also brandished — by National Front and British Movement supporters congregating to confront a Troops Out march. (NME, 22 August 1992)

… could the same writer harbour such seemingly ignorant thoughts as “‘England for the English'” (his inverted commas) considering his beloved England’s past colonial adventures? (NME, 22 August 1992)

The National Front exploited conflict in Northern Ireland. Skrewdriver’s album, Boot and Braces/Voice of Britain, released in 1990, contained the songs White Power and Smash the IRA.

A feature of the Bloody Sunday marches was that the far right (BNP etc.) often mobilised to oppose them, so that in the pubs and streets surrounding the demonstrations there would be skirmishes between anti-fascists and racists. In 1990 for instance, three Anti Fascist Action (AFA) members were jailed after notorious Nazi skinhead Nicky Crane was dragged out of a taxi in Kilburn in the vicinity of the Bloody Sunday march. (History Is Made At Night, 30 January 2012) http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.com/2012/01/bloody-sunday-1972-forty-years-of.html

Blood and Honour, a neo-Nazi group set up by Skrewdriver, from their magazine, 1998: Once again the National Front have made national news and this for marching to protect the rights of Ulster on 23rd May in Central London came under the title ‘No Surrender to the IRA’. The NF put out the march and called for loyalists to attend. https://www.channel4.com/news/ian-stuart-donaldson-a-legacy-of-hate

The NME invents a variety of motivations for the crowd’s hostility – all of which blame Morrissey – one of which implies that he’s a gay man trying to join the National Front and getting the violence he deserves.

It almost doesn’t matter who pelted him offstage (NF skins who don’t want his glitter-shirted type diluting the ‘movement’, Farm fans disgruntled at his alleged part in getting them chucked off the bill, ordinary Joes and Jos disgusted by his toying with nationalist imagery, people who just never liked The Polecats!); the fact remains: given all the above, it was almost inevitable. (NME, 22 August 1992)

Madstock, NME, 22 August 1992

While positioning themselves as ‘right-on’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘liberal’ – concerned that Morrissey has chosen to incite violence, racism and genocide.

In agitated times when the twin spectres of fascism and ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ are sweeping across Europe, and when there’s been a return in England to the horrifying incidence of burning immigrants out of their homes, we must wonder why Morrissey has chosen this precise moment to fuel the fires of racism by parading onstage with a Union Jack and writing such ambiguous dodgy lyrics as ‘The National Front Disco’ and ‘We’ll Let You Know’ on his recent album. Is he so starved of lyrical ideas that a touch of controversy is the best way to cover-up ‘writer’s block’? Is he completely fed-up with the liberal consensus in the more compassionate side of the media that he’s resorted to baiting the right-on crowd? Is there a sizeable degree of irony at work? (NME, 22 August 1992)

In contrast to Morrissey, who is now the opposite of ‘gentle and kind’.

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… 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… Is this the same man who, in The Smiths’ finest moment (‘I Know It’s Over’) wroteIt’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)

A picture taken in Dublin is used to label him a Little Englander, NME, 22 August 1992

They try to firm up the accusations by bringing up the ‘hip hop wars’, fabricated by music journalists who were excluding black artists from rock music, and accusing him of ‘race-hate‘.

1992 isn’t the first time Morrissey has been accused of fanning the flames of race-hate. When The Smiths released ‘Panic’ in 1986, at the height of what’s now known within NME as ‘the hip-hop wars’, certain writers at this paper branded Moz a ‘racist’ because of the sentiments “Burn down the disco… Hang the DJ” expressed therein, seeing the song as an all-out attack on dance music and therefore black people. (NME, 22 August 1992)

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. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/the-uda-killer-nicknamed-top-gun-behind-a-dozen-sectarian-murders-1.4628830 : https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/aug/27/northernireland.henrymcdonald1 : https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/how-loyalists-got-out-of-step-with-fascism-28657619.html : https://ansionnachfionn.com/2011/09/16/fascists-neo-nazis-and-the-british-unionist-minority-in-ireland/

Johnny Adair, on the far right, National Front march, 1980s : The NME’s coverage of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland: https://journals.openedition.org/etudesirlandaises/10464?lang=fr

They interpreted Bengali In Platforms as an anti-assimilation diatribe – so they could conflate him with anti-immigrant-anti-Irish-Catholic, ex-Tory, Ulster Unionist MP, Enoch Powell.

Viva Hate’, his first ‘solo’ LP, contained the charmingly titled ‘Bengali In Platforms’, a convoluted diatribe against assimilation: “He only wants to impress you/Bengali in platforms/He only wants to embrace your culture/And to be your friend forever/ … Oh shelve your Western plans/ … life is hard enough when you belong here.” And where does this somewhat gentle ridicule leave the Bengalis who were born in England? On the next boat captained by Enoch Powell? In the lurch? The main complaint Little Englanders have about immigrants is their seeming abhorrence of the host culture and feisty determination to cling to what they know and understand. But here we have someone who won’t let them do the opposite either... (NME, 22 August 1992)

Pro-Enoch Powell, anti-immigration march, 1972 https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/explore/online-exhibitions/windrush-day/windrush-day-enigma-arrival/4-caribbean-resettlement

They created a list (the template of all future lists) of out-of-context faux-racist quotes (Andrew Collins, Angelfire, 26 July 2001) used as evidence that he’s racist, violent, and a hypocrite, who has no right to complain about being attacked (by homophobes).

“I’m not totally averse to violence. I think it’s quite attractively necessary in some extremes. Violence on behalf of CND is absolutely necessary… obviously CND care about the people and that’s why they do what they do. That’s patriotism.”  (Morrissey, December 1984)

“The common sense for the future is to try and preserve as much as we can from the past.” (Morrissey, December 1984)

“Reggae is vile.” (Morrissey, NME questionnaire, February 1985)

“Personally, I’m an incurably peaceable character. But where does it get you? Nowhere. You have to be violent.” (Morrissey, March 1985)

etc: https://mycuttings.blogspot.com/2021/04/1992-08-22-morrissey-nme.html

All of this is a smokescreen – they even tell the reader how it’s constructed. They charge him with being a nationalist, a racist, right-wing and violent – then accumulate ‘problematic’ associations: Panic hates black people. Rusholme Ruffians hates Asians – who ‘duffed Moz up’ – as if his songs are literal and autobiographical.

The novel Suedehead is black-hating and gay-bashing, so the song Suedehead is black-hating and gay-bashing, which makes Bengali In Platforms, Asian Rut, We’ll Let You Know and The National Front Disco, black-hating and gay-bashing. He’s ambiguous – he causes unease and disquiet – he’s always carping about black people – it’s accelerating now he’s solo – he’s a danger to gullible and suggestible fans – he’s unwholesome.

Let’s deal with the first, and infinitely more difficult of these charges, the whole ugly grab-bag of nationalism, right-wingery, violence and racism… The Smiths’ ‘Panic’ could be construed as an attack on black music and therefore, by extension, black people. But the unease predates even that. One Mancunian music journalist has voiced disquiet that the ‘Ruffians’ on ‘Meat Is Murder’ — who duff up the Moz at a funfair — should be from ‘Rusholme’, the only part of Manchester that might be identified as ‘Asian’. It’s since the advent of Morrissey’s solo career, however, that misgivings about some of his chosen subject matter, lyrics, imagery and associations have begun to accelerate. His very first solo single, ‘Suedehead’, was named after the black-hating, gay-bashing post-skinhead gangs glamourised by Richard Allen’s notorious 1971 novel of the same name. Since then there’s been ‘Bengali In Platforms’ (from ‘Viva Hate’), ‘Asian Rut’ (‘Kill Uncle’) and, most recently, ‘We’ll Let You Know’ (with its line about “we are the last truly British people you will ever know”) and ‘The National Front Disco’ (from ‘Your Arsenal’). Nobody is denying Morrissey’s right to write about what the hell he likes and nor are any of these songs intrinsically problematic, but not all of his audience are as smart as him and the constant, unfocused, reference to these delicate matters, allied to Morrissey’s steadfast ambiguity in interviews (see quotes) does have a cumulative effect. Add to this his constant carping about reggae, disco and any other music that’s usually prefaced with the word ‘black’ (and the ‘Panic’ provision, that hating black music doesn’t mean to hate black people, still applies) and you can see how the gullible or suggestible fan, or the suspicious critic, might start to build up a pretty unwholesome portrait of the artist. (NME, 22 August 1992)

The skins are Nazis – but also male – and there are homosexuals about.

The original skins were about working class (primarily male) solidarity and an alternative to the stultifying mundanity and bullshit of everyday life, recurring themes in Morrissey’s writing. But they were also, despite their taste in ska and early reggae, generally racist, nationalistic, chauvinistic British bulldogs, proud wavers of the Union Jack and standard bearers (at a time when Enoch Powell was talking about the race ‘problem’ turning Britain’s streets into “rivers of blood”) of the Keep Britain White fanatics. Richard Allen’s Skinhead chronicles are full of sickening accounts of violence against blacks. And, for that matter, homosexuals. As the ’70s progressed, the skinhead faction began to shrink, boiling down to the hardcore rump of the ‘Oi’ movement, overtly racist nutters served musically by groups like The 4-Skins and Skrewdriver and responsible for the Southall riots when an Asian pub was fire-bombed. And although the cultural signals of shaving your head and wearing boots have remained confusing (no-one’s calling Sinead a fascist!) it’s undoubtedly true that in recent times, the skinhead has enjoyed a new lease of life in France, Italy, Scandinavia and especially Germany, as the vanguard of the post-Wall revival in Nazism. Are their flag-waving certainties and xenophobic imagery fit icons for him to be playing with, however cleverly? (NME, 22 August 1992)

The language used throughout the article is leading, loaded, and sexualised – the NME wondered how far his infatuation had gone, hoped his thrills with Mensi, a good guy, were only vicarious, but feared he was there to meet his desired skins in nail varnish. The shadowy iconography could be innocent, but, like his sexuality, it’s ambiguous. He could be actively seeking a less pleasant new image; he won’t let them near to find out.

How far has his infatuation with the skins and their paraphernalia gone? (NME, 22 August 1992)

Angelic Upstarts, 16 April 1979, Acklington Prison, a skinhead band, usually playing to an audience of skinheads, with a Union Jack. https://www.facebook.com/oithearchives/

He’s still got the rockabilly quiff, sure, but recently, as the pictures scattered around these five pages show, he’s taken to presenting himself with the iconography of the shadowy nationalistic right. Union Jack badges … Union Jack flags … cross of Saint George T-shirts … Oi T-shirts … suedehead backdrops; all innocent enough in their own right (or at least safely ambiguous) but, again, collected together they present a sorry and worrying spectacle. He’s also spent time recently with Mensi from right-on skins the Angelic Upstarts who, as a decidedly good guy, perhaps provides the Moz with a safe route to vicarious skinhead thrills. (NME, 22 August 1992)

Ian Stuart Donaldson, lead singer of neo-Nazi band, Skrewdriver, on the left, Suggs, lead singer of Madness, in the late 1970s https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/article/43221-madness-frontman-suggs-tells-life-story-at-2012-edinburgh-fringe/

And finally, given Madness’ sad and unwanted link with the National Front skin faction, why did he choose to make his only UK appearance so far this year at the Finsbury Park bash? Precisely to address his desired new congregation of ‘skinheads in nail varnish’? (NME, 22 August 1992)

What about the second contributory strand to Morrissey’s current problems, his apparent decline from blessed and effortless surfer on the golden wave of pop fortune, to unreliable, grudge-bearing seige-mentality curmudgeon? From a distance (and Morrissey doesn’t allow journalists any nearer), it all looks like one of two things: either he’s just lost all sense of judgement and subsequently effective control over his career, or he’s got it all perfectly under control and is actively seeking a new and less-pleasant-than-the-last image. (NME, 22 August 1992)

They implied that he was at Madstock to pick up racist men, despite the fact that he’d worked with Madness producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley on two albums – Bona Drag, and Kill Uncle – was friends with Cathal Smyth of Madness, and Suggs, sang on Picadilly Palare.

Steve Sutherland had singled them out in a review of Kill Uncle that called Asians ‘dusky‘, Morrissey fans ‘emotional retards‘ and Morrissey a snide, crabby old spinster, creepy sniching perv.

In ex-Madness cohorts Langer and Winstanley, he was [sic] chosen the two most parochial producers alive, as if to diminish his international appeal as far as possible… ‘Asian Rut’… mentions drugs, a tooled up dusky assailant hellbent on vengeance, and racial tension in schools, but it’s not even vivid soap opera… Morrissey once managed the improbable by focussing on the peripheral – no sex, no drugs, no life to speak of – as the centre of attention and in doing so, he caressed the nerves of millions of other emotional retards… but now he’s like some snide, crabby old spinster… he’s become some creepy snitching perv. (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 23 February 1991)

When he was in the Smiths, the press mocked his sexuality – but thought he was sexless.

Our Ste’s looking a bit weepy… Them daffs’ve got a touch of the Larry Graysons, haven’t they? But he bought them, mind. He didn’t pick them from Piccadilly Gardens. Look at them sequins! You just can’t keep him from meddling in his Mam’s sewing box. (NME, 24 March 1984) Larry Grayson was a camp comedian. https://www.camdennewjournal.co.uk/article/people-used-to-think-being-gay-meant-you-were-larry-grayson

The Smiths perverse glamour lay in their self-denial… [thier] manifesto of vengeneance on the world through disability, withdrawl and asexuality (it was impossible to imagine that Morrissey actually had a penis) was immensely attractive… It is now widely assumed that most of Morrissey’s lyrics were coded references to homosexuality… the male is invariably feminised… “This Charming Man”, which first aroused the is-Morrissey-gay debate, is way too obscure to fathom… (Simon Price, Melody Maker, 15 August 1992)

By the late 1980s they panicked that he might be a sexually active gay man – putting real gay culture into his work – with a fanbase of teenage boys – who were desperate to touch him.

Bona Drag, 1990. The title means good outfit, in Polari, a secret gay/theatrical language used when homosexuality was illegal. The song Picadilly Palare, is about male prostitutes, and palare is an alterntive spelling of polari. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20180212-polari-the-code-language-gay-men-used-to-survive

Picadilly Palare might have been inspired by bisexual skinhead and former Picadilly prostitute, Mick Furbank. Mick designed the ‘crucified skin‘ logo for London skinhead shop, The Last Resort, where Nicky Crane was a regular customer.

Mick Furbank, Sounds, 10 January 1981

Mick Furbank is a shock tactician. Former Piccadilly rent boy—gasp! Skinhead artist—never! Mimes buggery in public performance—disgraceful! Masturbates with a Doc Marten boot on stage—appalling! Says many skins are gay, just too hung-up to acknowledge it—the world turns upside down! What he wants to tell us about is ‘Gangs. Uniforms. Pain.’ All the tender emotions suppressed, sexuality suppressed, violence expressed. His chosen approach is part and parcel of his skinhead persona. ‘No fuss. Mo mess. Pure impact.’ Very hard art. (Phil Sutcliffe, Sounds, 10 January 1981) https://standupandspit.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/skinhead-art/

No Skin Off My Ass, a sex comedy-drama about a hairdresser who has an affair with a Skinhead, 1991, directed by Bruce LaBruce. https://www.frieze.com/article/bruce-labruce-porn-and-revolution

The NME warned him that his sexual ambiguity could end his career. Which mutates into an accusation that he’s equivocal about Englishness.

If Morrissey has sinned in his rise to self-styled King of the Western World then it must surely have been indulging in his only weakness, which he himself credited as being a ‘listed crime’… it is Morrissey’s own ambiguity which has led to what many people insist on hinting at as being a somewhat spectacular cover-up… apart from a very early interview with our own Cath Carroll where Morrissey spoke directly about the eroticism of the male body (and an interview in a lesser rag that was littered with tawdry references to public toilets), Morrissey has rarely been questioned about the highly sexual nature of his lyrics… As it is, without wishing to undermine his aggressive challenge to the staid institution of compulsory heterosexuality and monogamy, I find it hard to believe that it is a Crown Prince Of Celibacy who is responsible for such knowing or flirtatious songs as ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’, ‘Reel Around The Fountain’, ‘Hand In Glove’ and ‘Alsatian Cousin’. Or for the specifically sexual visual control of his image, from the topless NME front cover to the particularly lustful dancing of the young tearaway hoodlum on the new video… Maybe it is this over-enthusiastic curiosity from fans that forewarns him of a more offensive and dangerous threat to the often remarkable relationship with his art and his audience that he has developed – ie from the blood-hungry tabloids. If this is the case, then Morrissey should be wary of the fate that killed off both his heroes Wilde and Dean… (James Brown, NME, February 1989) https://www.nme.com/features/morrissey-talks-sex-stalkers-and-the-smiths-in-classic-nme-interview-756834

How has Morrissey come to this none-too-pretty pass? The answer comes in the convergence of two trends that have intensified as his post-Smiths career has developed. The first is his penchant for clever but equivocal lyrics (and, in fact, interview statements) about ‘Englishness’, ‘Britain’, insiders, outsiders and belonging. Wittingly or otherwise, he has continued to pick away at the scab of race relations in this country. (NME, 22 August 1992)

Sounds, January 1989

In-coming NME editor, Steve Sutherland, had written a homophobic review of Morrissey’s Hulmerist VHS implying he was abusing his fans via his t-shirts. The NME ridiculously linked his t-shirts to a flirtation with racism.

The faint hint of homoeroticism around “The Last of the International Playboys”… opens a whole different can of worms. Is the tee shirt thing a sick joke – the celebrated celibate getting his kicks sticking to the sweaty skin of every boy and girl in the hall? From “Playboy”, with Mozzer like a stripper constantly tugging at his neckline and threatening to expose a nipple… [to] barely able to sing “Sister I’m a Poet” for the boys invading the stage and embracing him… (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 26 May 1990)

Morrissey’s flirtation with racism didn’t really begin until The Smiths split and he became a law unto himself, gleefully wearing his own T-shirts, aspiring to be the consummate egotist. (NME, 22 August 1992)

NME caption: some of the 1, 200 kids waiting to meet Morrissey, NME, 22 August 1992

The NME’s concerns about his ‘sway’ over the minds of ‘a generation’ echo social fears that predatory older gay men corrupt children, then playing out in a fierce debate about lowering the gay age of consent from 21 to 16. In Ireland (where most of Morrissey’s family are from) male homosexuality was illegal until 1993. https://www.beh-mht.nhs.uk/news/history-of-lgbtq-rights-in-the-uk/1750

Firstly, Morrissey has held, and continues to hold, sway over the minds of a generation who take tips from his every utterance, try to model themselves on his sense of fashion and live their lives at least partly according to codes he’s laid down with a flourish (just try imagining the number of people who converted to vegetarianism upon hearing The Smiths’ ‘Meat Is Murder’). (NME, 22 August 1992)

At Glastonbury, where this paper was one of the sponsors, kids came to the NME tent and literally wept about Morrissey’s absence. (NME, 22 August 1992)

Sad, young male, Morrissey fans, NME, 22 August 1992

The point about “protecting the young” was made over and over again. Lynette Burrows in The Sunday Telegraph (7 Jun) based her objections to any change on the idea that adolescent boys are easily persuaded to give up their heterosexuality by “predatory homosexuals who would gain most if they were allowed to recruit from among them… One must conclude that the basis for the relentless self-advertisement of many homosexuals is related to this desire to recruit new partners. Many are dedicated to the untrammelled appetite for sex that… often results in degradation and disease. It is… a life-style that can easily be portrayed to a vulnerable teenager as the answer to all his problems of identity and sexual longing.” (Media Watch, Gay Times, July 1992)

They don’t have a snowball’s hope in hell of getting this through… There is a small minority of paedophile homosexuals who want to corrupt and ensnare youngsters. They must be stopped at all costs. (Geoffrey Dickens MP, the Daily Star, April 1992)

The gay skinhead look, Outrage! campaign poster, 1992

The Melody Maker/NME – both publications owned by IPC and working out of the same building – couldn’t directly attack Morrissey’s sexuality. Gay rights was a small, and unpopular cause, but it was edgy, young and fashionable.

It was also desperately needed. A Galop survey in 1991, published in 1992, found that 80% of gay men in London had been verbally abused, and 50% had been physically assualted. Four gay men had been murdered. https://galop.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/galop-annual-report-1992.pdf

On November 30th I went along to a peaceful demonstration in central London marking this year’s World AIDS Day. Organised by the London AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP), the London Bisexual Women’s Group and the National Union of Students, the demo aimed to draw attention to the scandalous lack of information surrounding treatment, healthcare and safer sex/ drug use in this country. The action was interrupted by a violent and brutal attack by the police.. (Nicola Field, Mainliners, January 1992) https://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.com/2010/12/world-aids-day.html

Left-wing activists at a gay rights protest, 1988

Accusing him of racism deflected attention away from the NME’s homophobia and created a ludicrous debate over whether his use of the Union Jack was racist or ironic.

Marvel UK, 1991.

Six months before Finsbury Park, the NME had featured a Union Jack on their cover, alongside a celebration of young female groupies.

NME, 20 March 1992

The myth that it was rarely used before ‘Britpop’ reclaimed it was concocted by Stuart Maconie and Andrew Collins to explain why they used it on the front cover of Select in April 1993, just 8 months after claiming that Morrissey waving it could cause a genocide in Europe.

Select, April 1993

In 2019, The Guardian used the myth to claim that it was Morrissey who was being aggressive at Finsbury Park. And this was somehow a clear signal to fascists in the audience that he was ONE OF THEM.

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, 30 May 2019)

Union Jacks 1970-1990s: on bedding, worn by London Marathon runners, at the Queen’s Jubilee, on toys, worn by comedian Ken Dodd, waved by children on a Royal visit.

The NME repeats the Melody Maker’s lie about Seig Heiling skins, but they focus on his ‘camp’ performance – dancing, draped, glittering. Randomly selecting the Who and the Jam as flag-wavers, who reclaimed the flag, from a vocal mirco-minority – as if we’d have to reclaim the official flag of the United Kingdom from a micro-minority. It’s also inacurrate. The National Front was bigger in the 1960s and 1970s. And the 1992 version of the BNP had been formed in 1982 after a gay scandal in the National Front, in order to exclude ‘queers’. https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/46529/1/46529.pdf

The Observer, August 2017. The Battle of Lewisham, 13 August 1977, is credited with halting the rise of the National Front.

All this is sad, but not as sad as the day Morrissey appeared on the Madness bill at Finsbury Park, and danced around with a Union Jack draped around his glittering shirt during ‘Glamorous Glue’. For his pains, he was attacked with various minor missiles by an unruly element in the audience, but anyone could have told him that there was a small but vocal contingent of Seig Heiling skins in the audience… Of course, one realises that The Jam used the flag to optimum effect when they were in existence, but they explained themselves by claiming they were reclaiming the flag from The Far Right. In the ’60s The Who were also notorious flag-wavers, but those were markedly different times and both the NF and the BNP didn’t exist in the same form (a vocal micro-minority) then. Morrissey, however, must be aware of what flag-waving means in the Euro-90s… (NME, 22 August 1992)

Describing him as a shallow, laughable, eccentric who wants to be a teenager, is less like a violent racist, and more like a gay stereotype.

But then, along with being an English eccentric who wishes he was a teenager in the ’50s, Morrissey has often been attracted to surface gloss, to style-over-content. Is he satisfied, this way? Would he like to be a laughing stock? (NME, 22 August 1992)

They demanded an interview. Morrissey refused.

Morrissey was told of both the general gist and some particulars of this piece and asked for his comments and if he was prepared to do a full scale interview. He responded, through the press office, with the following statement: ‘My lawyers are poised. NME have been trying to end my career for four years and year after year they fail. This year they will also fail.” (NME, 22 August 1992)

Students protested, beneath the Union Jack that decorated the entrance to his record company, EMI.

NME, September 1992

The band Cornershop burned his picture.

27 years later, the Guardian, used the 3 minutes he held a flag to ask if he was showing his true colours, and to claim that he had a long history of supporting far right organisations.

The Guardian, May 1992.

Morrissey might have just been looking for some temporary credibility from Love Music Hate Racism. Certainly, the long history of support for racist and far right organisations speaks to something else. We certainly wouldn’t be taking any further donations from Morrissey‘ (Zak Cochrane, the Guardian, May 2019) 

The intention was to kill his career.

Moz is history, and we’d all do well to learn it. (Andrew Collins, NME, April 1992)

… a lack of grace and control… seems to have become endemic in dealings with him; a career that once looked effortless, touched by the hand of God almost, has now become characterised by a series of feuds, upsets, no-shows and general tetchiness. (NME, 22 August 1992)

And seperate him from the Smiths.

Melody Maker, Vox advert, 16 March 1991

They could have sensationalised his sexuality more overtly. 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) https://illnessasart.com/2020/01/05/melody-maker-3-november-1984/

But it may have felt too risky. In May 1992, Jason Donovan had sued, The Face, over accusations that the was gay in their ‘Queer As F*ck‘ issue. He won, and could have bankrupted them if he hadn’t waived the damages. https://gtmediawatch.org/1965/07/01/gay-times-may-1992/

Jason Donovan, leaving the High Court, 3 April 1992

The publicity around Out: the skin complex mentioned that some gay black men were 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 that problem, but in 2001, Andrew Collins was using Dele Fadele’s skin colour to justify the story and labelled him a cultural tourist for holding a Union Jack, and standing in front of a picture of two girls with shaven heads.

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)  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/reformed-fascist-ready-to-admit-homosexuality-martin-wroe-reports-on-the-conversion-of-a-right-winger-that-highlights-a-thriving-gay-fashion-1535856.html?amp

I never said the Morrissey witch-hunt issue was ‘real journalism’, Jon. I said it was “real” journalism, ie. closer to real journalism than the shit we usually did. I was at Madstock and the crowd was pretty dodgy… Whether Moz is/was a racist or not was less important than the fact that he was flirting with far right imagery – like a cultural tourist – and not going on record about his real reasons, or his real feelings. He could have stopped that cover story with one statement. He chose to remain enigmatic and distant, compounding his error… At first, as features editor, I refused to get involved, but I was ordered by my boss into an emergency staff meeting, and once the decision was made, it was up to the senior staff (me Danny Kelly, and Stuart Maconie) to get the copy done, along with an excellent piece by Dele Fadele who is black and could therefore give a perspective none of us NME white boys could. (Dele was furious about Moz’s actions and needed no coercion to write.) All I did was compile Morrissey’s faux-racist quotes from every interview he’d ever done, and collate the lyrics… We did our job. (Andrew Collins, Angelfire, Re NME disappearing up its own PR, 26 July 2001) https://www.angelfire.com/super/sotcaabits/forums/nme01.html

In the mid-90s, Morrissey was rumoured to be in a relationship with Jake Walters, a photographer, and skinhead.

Morrissey and Jake Walters, 1994. Following the revelation of his first serious relationship with a man in his new book Autobiography, Morrissey has issued a clarification about his sexuality. “Unfortunately, I am not homosexual,” he wrote from Sweden in a note posted on fansite True to You. “In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course, not many.” (Guardian Music, the Guardian, 21 October 2013)

In 2002, the NME wrote an article about the Smiths that entwined their obsession with Morrissey’s sexual ambiguity with their lie that he was unambiguously a racist. The UK didn’t have a predominatly black DJ culture and the crowd at Madstock made no comment on the Union Jack. They heckled that he was a ‘poof’ (a UK slur for a gay man).

He fastidiously cultivated his own eccentricities into an iconography. A depressive nature could be a flamboyant selling point, not an introverted whimper. An unspecified sexuality could be ruthlessly exploited, especially when there was speculation of a homoerotic tension between him and his stoic foil, Johnny Marr... Morrissey always chose to be brutally upfront about some subjects: his hatred of black music, for one thing – ‘Reaggae is vile’, he told us in February 1985. But on matters of sexuality, he was tantalisingly ambiguous… ‘The Queen is Dead’… another title calculated to draw controversy: cheers from the generally leftist, republican NME, and its readers; moral indignation from the mainstream. Morrissey’s paranoia may have been increasing, but his knack of sensationally voicing the prejudices of his followers was undimmed. Only when he began to misjudge the balance – to offend the liberal sensibilities of the paper – did the love affair start to founder… ‘Panic’ was both brilliant and newsworthy, pivoting as it did on the chorus of ‘hang the DJ’. After Morrissey’s previous comments on black music, certain critics saw the line as implicitly racist, an attack on the predominantly black DJ culture of the time… to imagine that Morrissey hadn’t considered the statement’s ambiguity would be to credit him with implausible naivety… a certain discomfort with Morrissey that had already been brewing started to flourish… The story reached a climax in 1992… On August 22… he was photographed at a show supporting Madness in London’s Finsbury Park. In his hand, he waved a Union Jack – in spite of the fact that the gig was known to have attracted a number of skinheads who would have interpreted the gesture unambiguously. ‘Flying the flag or flirting with disaster’ read the headline, while the article calmly examined what it interpreted as a distasteful infatuation with the imagery of British racism… One of Morrissey’s most potent skills was to encourage an illusion of intimacy, appearing to confess when in fact he was being scrupulously protective of his private life – never openly discussing his sexuality… We ridiculed him, demonised him, accidentally split up his band… but for a few magnificent years, we were bewitched by him… (NME, 20 April 2002)

The press kept obsessing about his sexual and ethnic ambiguity.

Morrissey intends to remain undefinable. He’s a conversational escapologist, eluding any attempt to pin him down. Take, for example, his sexuality. It’s 20 years since Rolling Stone magazine described him as gay, much to his annoyance, and he still refuses to specify. Often he denies any kind of sex life at all. That’s his business, but it’s a long time to maintain ambiguity... On his new single, Irish Blood, English Heart, he sings of “standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or partial”. He’s referring to his notorious performance at Madness’s Madstock weekender in 1992, when he wrapped himself in a Union flag and was branded a racist by the music press, casting a long shadow over his solo career… Could he not have simply explained his intentions? “Well, you know, I haven’t just arrived from the village,” he snaps. “I did think of all these things. I knew the people I was dealing with and there was no point in reaching out to them. It’s more dignified to step away than to run towards them and say, ‘Please forgive me for something I haven’t done.’ (Dorian Lynskey, the Guardian, 9 April 2004) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2004/apr/09/shopping.morrissey

The success of his album 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. (Victoria Segal, 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. (Victoria Segal, Mojo, May 2004)

But in 2007, the NME hyped some mild comments about immigration and reprinted the Finsbury Park story, this started a press persecution that escalated after Tim Jonze became the Guradian’s music editor in 2010.

Len Brown’s biography has come under fire in the September issue of Q magazine. Dorian Lynskey, who interviewed Morrissey for The Guardian back in 2004, argues the book is “fundamentally flawed” because of Brown’s “20-year relationship” with the artist. He accuses the ex-NME journalist of “having no flair for narrative” and also complains that Brown “fudges the issue of the singer’s contentious statements about national identity”. The review awards the book three stars but is headlined “Friend Of Mozzer Pens Biography – Thorny Subjects Ignored”. (Anonymous, Morrissey Solo, 9 September 2008)

https://folk-devil.com/2022/07/05/immigration/

Dele Fadele died in 2018. In his belated Guardian obituary, Jonze, managed to echo the homophobia of 1992.

I’m surprised that it has taken so long for the press to get round to “The Secret Gay Life of Star Frankie” (Sunday Mirror, 9 Aug). I don’t know who is supposed to be surprised by the knowledge that Frankie Howerd was gay, but apparently the papers find it “shocking”. Of course, as they tell it, the comedian’s gay nature was part of his “dark side” . (Media Watch, Gay Times, September 1992)

[Dele summed up] the dark side of Morrissey... [he] 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, who along with then-editor Danny Kelly reworked the cover around Dele’s critical piece – an arduous process to do at the last minute back then. “He wrote from the heart – and, uniquely among the staff – from an actual vantage point. [Dele was’t gay] This was not a moment to be lily-livered and Dele seized the day. It was a turning point for Moz’s provocations. Dele wrote if not his most important piece, certainly one that gave urgency and weight to an otherwise hand-wringing situation.” (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, September 2020) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/sep/14/dele-fadele-remembered-nme

For 30 years (and counting) Morrissey has been called a racist because he was the victim of a homophobic hate crime.

He’s been dehumanised, demonised, and made a pariah.

His public image has been fused with Nicky Crane – a bad gay – toxic, vicious, fascist. His moving solo work conflated with Skrewdriver. A queer second generation immigrant singled out as the only artist in the UK who can’t touch a Union Jack.

Union Jack on the microphone. The Observer, How to treat Morrissey? Stop listening to him, 8 July 2018

Side Note: My Favourite Worst Nightmare – Morrissey & Madstock

Of course, I was only through the Park gates for a few moments when a lager-swilling huddle of bovver-booted neo-Nazis spotted my quiff and garb and blew poisoned kisses in my direction, tweeting, ‘ooh, Morrissey, Morrissey!'” “Meanwhile, Morrissey, a Liberace shirt slung over his skinny frame, is waving these fascist-spawned monsters’ Union Flag at them while relating the experience of Davey, the young man who went to the National Front Disco’; if ever there was an sudden irony failure at NME, who’d slated Morrissey’s solo work for not treading on the taboos of old’, it was right here. Only a couple of years later, they would laud Britpop and the reclaiming of the British flag, yet here, it was Morrissey, and not this foul minority in Madness’s audience, who they cast as the racist.” “Morrissey finished his otherwise triumphant set early and failed to show for day two; Suggs never mentioned, nor was he ever quizzed upon, his band’s neo-fascist supporters’ behaviour that day. Meanwhile, me and my fellow Moz heads made our tremulous way to the tube station, well before midnight, in blissful ignorance of just how this story was about to be spun by the popular music press we’d supported for years; so long as we remember exactly what took place that day, the chroniclers and revisionists can simply get on with glossing over the inconvenient truth.” (Johnnie Craig, State, 11 October 2009) https://web.archive.org/web/20131027211741/http://state.ie/features/archive/my-favourite-worst-nightmare-morrissey-madstock

Side Note 2: the artistic closet

“Outside” effectively marked the end of George Michael’s career as a serious artist. Not because “coming out” turned the straight world against him, but because, paradoxically, it meant that he could no longer write about “inside” feelings honestly. He could only be a spokesperson. (Mark Simpson, Salon, 30 April 2004) https://www.salon.com/2004/04/30/morrissey/

Side Note 3: Homophobia has never been taken as seriously as racism – and racism has been used as a reason for ignoring homophobia. In 1992 Buju Banton released a song with lyrics about torturing and killing gay men. The Guardian accused gay rights campaigners who complained of being racist. And found it easy to accept his explanation that it wasn’t literal.

In the 11 years since Buju Banton released his single Boom Bye Bye, which appeared to advocate shooting gay men, the singer has done much to shake off the controversy that surrounded him… Banton pointed out that he wasn’t literally advocating murder, but maintained that homosexuality was against his religious beliefs… Banton is fiery enough to make me feel personally responsible for every British injustice towards Jamaica in the past 300 years. (Dorian Lynskey, The Guardian, March 2003) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2003/mar/03/artsfeatures.popandrock

In 2009, Buju would meet with gay rights activists in San Francisco, but went on to blame them for a pepper spray attack: This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot’ and it’s clear. The same night after I met with [gay activists], they pepper-sprayed the concert. So what are you trying to tell me? I owe dem nothing, they don’t owe I nothing.”https://www.queerty.com/buju-banton-met-with-the-gays-then-he-spat-in-their-faces-20091016

Side Note 4: the NME’s claim they were just as hard on Eric Clapton, David Bowie & Elvis Costello is untrue.

So why, at the end of all this, is NME bothering? Why are our knickers in such a twist? Well, there’s nothing new in this. In the past, when the likes of Eric Clapton, David Bowie and even Elvis Costello have dipped their unthinking toes into these murky waters, the music press have been equally quick on the case. And Morrissey, unlike, say, a bigoted idiot like Ice Cube, holds tremendous sway over thousands of fans in Britain and is generally regarded as one of our most intelligent rock performers. Therefore when he sends out signals on subjects as sensitive as those discussed above there seems little room for playfulness, never mind ambiguity. In Europe in 1992, with ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ a reality and the new Nazis on the rise across the continent, the need for clear thinking and clear statements is more acute than ever. (NME, 22 August 1992)

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——.”

Eric: https://genius.com/Red-saunders-letter-to-the-uk-music-press-regarding-eric-clapton-annotated

David: http://www.chalkiedavies.com/blog/b9wr8hr5mr79wkkbx83lf8cd7p54f7

Elvis: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/New_Musical_Express,_October_30,_1982

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. Some comrades on the hard left hate it as a symbol of the British Empire, but that’s a minority opinion.

Brand Britain: Milk Bottle, British Airways Advert, Vimto Sparkling Fruit Juice mascot, skinhead fashion.

1960s: football fans and swimwear.

1990 FIFA World Cup. Pay No Poll Tax was a left-wing protest.

Footballer Paul Gascoigne, NME, 24 November 1990. They made no mention of the Union Jacks on his shorts.

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.

NME, 6 August 1977

Finsbury Twice: Immigration

During a support gig for Madness, at Finsbury Park, on the 8th August 1992, Morrissey was “bottled off-stage” by a crowd shouting homophobic slurs.

The men’s men in the crowd offer the opinion that Morrissey is a poofy bastard and elevate many a middle finger. A coin or two flies. (Select, October 1992)

Melody Maker, 15 August 1992

Morrissey was upset by the crowd’s reaction and refused to play a second gig. His press office ‘cited projectiles and a 50p thrown by a National Front skinhead’ (NME, 22 August 1992) as the reason for the cancellation. The National Front was in London that day to attack an Irish Republican march. Morrissey is an Irish Catholic and had expressed support for Irish Republicanism in 1983. In the 1990s it was still a controversial subject. And there was still a strong strain of anti-Irish racism in the UK.

Sinead O’Connor and her murdering IRA friends should rot in hell after what they’ve done… Hopefully Miss O’Connor will get blown up by an IRA bomb one day. (MDN, NME letters page, 3 March 1990)

Feckless, stupid, drunken, combative and relentlessly talkative, the Irishmen of Victorian Punch cartoons merge together into a stereotype that has proved enduring. (Brian Cathcart, the Independent, 11 June 1994) https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rear-window-punch-lines-that-kept-the-irish-in-their-place-taking-the-mick-1422052.html?amp

The scale of the violence in Dublin that night, and the wicked glee of the perpetrators as they ripped up the upper west stand came as a shock to most people. But the warning dots were there; it was just that nobody connected them. There had long been a hard core of England fans who viewed football as war by proxy and Ireland as the enemy. (Sean Ingle, the Guardian, 25 May 2013) https://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/may/25/england-ireland-1995-rioting-international

This was also a time when far right violence against gay people (& people perceived to be gay) was extreme. The BNP was formed after a row about suspected homosexuality in the leadership of the National Front. Both the National Front and the BNP, ‘queer-bashed’, murdering and beating up gay people, attacking gay events and bombing gay pubs. If elected, The BNP pledged to make homosexuality illegal. In 1990, a gay man was murdered and pressure group Outrage was created to tackle both violence against gay people and indifference and persecution from the police and the media. The press and authorities believed that the “gay lifestyle” was “asking for” violence.

Outrage, in the 1990s

“A person born with any sort of colour doesn’t have a choice in the matter. I would suggest that sexual preferences, however, are a matter of individual choice.” (Chief Superintendent Shoemake, Pink Paper, 21 July 1990) https://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/the-murder-of-gay-actor-michael-boothe-30-years-on/

Twenty years ago yesterday, a nail bomb exploded in the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, killing three people and injuring dozens more. It marked the conclusion of a campaign by David Copeland, a neo-Nazi intent on igniting a race war… At Copeland’s trial, the prosecution distinguished between the ‘political’ bombings in Brixton and Brick Lane, and the ‘personal’ bombing in Soho: ‘The defendant told police that he was very homophobic. He hated gay men and he said his hatred stemmed from the way his parents had treated him as a child.’ Suggestions of Copeland’s sexual and psychological aberrance – denial, closetedness, sadism – recur in the journalism around the case, though with little supporting evidence… Copeland’s violent homophobia was commonplace in the neo-Nazi circles he moved in, from the British National Party to the National Socialist Movement. It was as much a part of their politics as racism was: they all declared their intention to outlaw or kill homosexuals. The BNP took pains to distance itself from the perceived tolerance of homosexuality among the directorate of the National Front; the BNP saw queers everywhere, intimately linked to tolerance and cultural degeneracy. Writing in the BNP’s Spearhead magazine in 1999, a few months before he became leader, Nick Griffin decried gay demonstrators against the Admiral Duncan bombing as ‘flaunting their perversion’, showing ‘just why so many ordinary people find those creatures so repulsive’. (James Butler, London Review of Books, 1 May 2019) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/sep/01/features.magazine37

A former leading light in the National Front, no friend of homosexuals, is accusing the prospective leader of the British National party, also no lover of homosexuals, of the unthinkable – having an affair with another man. Quite apart from the embarrassing fact that the BNP has an official policy of wanting homosexuality outlawed, the tiff reveals the supposed hard men of the right as curiously sensitive… “There is a great deal of narcissism among the fascist leadership based on the macho image and elaborate uniforms.” (Tom Robbins, Sunday Times, 5 September 1999)

Homosexuality was a problematic topic in the music magazines:

Gays are not perceived as normal by the general public… being gay is nothing to be proud of… ‘proud to be gay’ does not ring out with the same force as ‘proud to be Black’ and that is where the minority angst comparison ends. (Alex, NME letters page, 28 April 1990)

It’s terrible shite… I’m sure Morrissey would have preferred to have inspired screaming fag glam rock types… (Barbara Ellen, NME, 24 March 1990)

Phrases like ‘pig-ugly American lesbians’, ‘I didn’t get it because I didn’t feel part of their community’, and ‘nothing more than a cabaret act playing to a minority’, tend to illustrate the old blind spot when it comes to musicians who, against all odds, make gay pop. (Richard Scholey, NME letters page, 19 May 1990) He was just speaking his mind and not trying to cover things up with that smarmy liberal sheen so often affected by media pundits… (in reply, Dele Fadele, NME, 19 May 1990)

Young gay people were banned from placing personal ads:

NME, 13 January 1990

And Morrissey was being warned that his “sexual ambiguity” wasn’t going to be tolerated for much longer:

For too long, a faction around here feels, the fey, blithe, Morrissey has been allowed to saunter through pop history unchecked, fawned upon even, and it was about time some of the chaps got together to administer a tarring, a feathering, and deposit him in the nearest ditch. (David Stubbs, Melody Maker, 19 March 1988)

If Morrissey has sinned in his rise to self-styled King of the Western World then it must surely have been indulging in his only weakness, which he himself credited as being a ‘listed crime’… it is Morrissey’s own ambiguity which has led to what many people insist on hinting at as being a somewhat spectacular cover-up… apart from a very early interview with our own Cath Carroll where Morrissey spoke directly about the eroticism of the male body (and an interview in a lesser rag that was littered with tawdry references to public toilets), Morrissey has rarely been questioned about the highly sexual nature of his lyrics… As it is, without wishing to undermine his aggressive challenge to the staid institution of compulsory heterosexuality and monogamy, I find it hard to believe that it is a Crown Prince Of Celibacy who is responsible for such knowing or flirtatious songs as ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’, ‘Reel Around The Fountain’, ‘Hand In Glove’ and ‘Alsatian Cousin’. Or for the specifically sexual visual control of his image, from the topless NME front cover to the particularly lustful dancing of the young tearaway hoodlum on the new video… Maybe it is this over-enthusiastic curiosity from fans that forewarns him of a more offensive and dangerous threat to the often remarkable relationship with his art and his audience that he has developed – ie from the blood-hungry tabloids. If this is the case, then Morrissey should be wary of the fate that killed off both his heroes Wilde and Dean… (James Brown, NME, February 1989)

While Freddie Mercury’s death from AIDS was getting viciously bigoted coverage.

“Freddie’s life was consumed with sodomy. He died from it,” opined Peter McKay of the London Evening Standard (28 Nov), while Joe Haines in The Daily Mirror wrote: “He was sheer poison, a man bent”… John Junor  (Mail on Sunday, 1 Dec): “If you treat as a hero a man who died because of his own sordid sexual perversions aren’t you infinitely more likely to persuade some of the gullible young to follow in his example?”
(Media Watch, Gay Times, January 1992)

The Last of the International Playboys video

Even socialists sympathetic to gay people have a blind spot – failing to recognise that homophobic violence and ideology, was and is, on a par with racism. The Socialist Worker admired Morrissey writing a song about gay sex – Dear God Please Help Me – but didn’t know that the far right murdered gay people.

Today the pop industry can easily cope with artists who are openly gay, but can it cope with artists singing about men having sex with men? : On the Isle of Dogs in east London, the Nazi BNP won its first council seat in decades. Three young black men were stabbed to death in south east London. What was Morrissey’s response? He draped himself in the Union Jack at a Madness concert in Finsbury Park and released an album called Your Arsenal, which contained the song “National Front Disco” – a glorification of fascism. (Martin Smith, Socialist Worker, 1st May 2006)
https://socialistworker.co.uk/socialist-review-archive/morrissey-and-love-dare-not-sing-its-name/

The NME insinuated that the heckling and violence at Finsbury was incited by Morrissey because he was attracted to racism as part of his sexuality and alluded to the gay skinhead scene. A month before Finsbury, channel 4 had shown a documentary about gay skinheads – in which Nicky Crane, ex-Skrewdriver roadie and ex-National Front/British Movement member, had come out as gay – and a few years previously there had been a row about a gay skinhead disco on GLC property.

I think he was asking for a bit of trouble. Maybe he thought he could win over the skinhead contingent but you’re going to put backs up prancing around like that. (Tim Dourney, NME, 22 August 1992)

Gay skinheads kissing, late 80s. In the 90s gay PDAs were still an arrestable offence.

https://thatchercrisisyears.com/2013/01/14/gay-skinhead-lesbian/amp/

The NME probably took their cue from a review in The Melody Maker – it blatantly lied about the situation – seemingly to protect the reputation of headliners, Madness.

Morrissey is, despite all hopes, despicable… Look, Steven, if you’ve just run 100 metres in 9.98, you can have some sort of vague, if dubious, claims to wearing a Union Jack around your shoulders. If you’re singing the National Front Disco and getting too scared/weary to put inverted commas around the England for the English bit, while Sieg Heils butter you up down the front, don’t expect much sympathy… short of burning the flag, there’s little Morrissey can do to convince that his is anything but a bleary, parochial fool, the Peregrine Worsthorne of pop. (Paul Mathur, Melody Maker, 15 August 1992)

Peregrine Worsthorne was the homophobic editor of the The Sunday Telegraph.

Peregrine Worsthorne in The SUNDAY TELEGRAPH wrote: “The public’s first reaction to this new danger will be to look for a scapegoat… In the case of Aids, male homosexuals undoubtedly are responsible.
(Media Watch, Gay Times, March 1985) https://gtmediawatch.org/ https://www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/patrickstrudwick/this-man-spent-25-years-fighting-newspapers-over-their

The NME would go on to conflate Morrissey with anti-immigrant, former Tory, Ulster Unionist MP, Enoch Powell, and blame him for racist attacks and genocide; pretending that the Union Jack that he’d held for less than 3 minutes (using it as a whip, a cape and a skirt, before throwing it away) was ‘racist imagery’. The NME had used the Union Jack on their front cover 6 months before Finsbury, held by the heterosexual (as far as we know), Damon Albarn.

NME, 28 March 1992

1992 was also a year in which there was fierce debate about lowering the gay age of consent from 21 to 16. The concerns about boys being corrupted by older homosexuals are echoed in the NME’s concerns about Morrissey’s ‘gullible fans, following their leader” And their fixation on his masculinity and sexuality. If you swap out ‘racism’ for ‘gayness’ – the 1992 article makes more sense.

How far has his infatuation with the skins and their paraphernalia gone? (NME, 22 August 1992)

“And where does this leave gullible Morrissey acolytes and fans who hang on his every word and applaud his every image-move… It’ll be a scary prospect if some think it’s hip to follow their leader on this one (NME, August 1992)

And so, the Government is, after all, going to allow a vote on the gay age of consent. “Mouthy Edwina Currie has set herself up as a sage,” ranted a Daily Star  editorial. (26 May): “She’s now campaigning for the homosexual age of consent to be lowered to 16… How can she possibly support such a hideously revolting idea which will contribute to the corruption of so many sick and weak-minded young kids?”  The Sun said (2 Jun): “… We can be sure that even if the age were brought down to 16, the gay lobby would not be satisfied. They would want to follow the Danes and the Dutch down to 12 or 13.” … The Sunday Express (31 May) [said]: “If MPs place heterosexuals and homosexuals on the same legal basis they will imply that there is no moral difference between the two.” The point about “protecting the young” was made over and over again. Lynette Burrows in The Sunday Telegraph (7 Jun) based her objections to any change on the idea that adolescent boys are easily persuaded to give up their heterosexuality by “predatory homosexuals who would gain most if they were allowed to recruit from among them… One must conclude that the basis for the relentless self-advertisement of many homosexuals is related to this desire to recruit new partners. Many are dedicated to the untrammelled appetite for sex that… often results in degradation and disease. It is… a life-style that can easily be portrayed to a vulnerable teenager as the answer to all his problems of identity and sexual longing.”
(Media Watch, Gay Times, July 1992)

The NME’s follow up comments increased the victim-blaming and the hints about homosexuality. Lavender has long been a colour associated with gay people.

Let’s examine why Morrissey might have cuddled the Union flag. One, he might have wanted to show his national pride. Possible, but if I was a BNP yob I’d think he was taking the piss and would throw something, and if I wasn’t, I might throw something anyway because nationalism stinks – keep those ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ concentration camps in your mind. Two, he might have been reclaiming the flag for non-racists. Great, but cue missiles. Three, he might have been taking the piss, provoking the crowd. Here come those coins. Maybe he just likes the pattern on the flag, I dunno. But don’t kid yourself. Morrissey is no idiot. He must have suspected that a Madness gig would attract a football crowd. Even if he wasn’t, he must have been aware that there were some yobs there. To go onstage in the flag is to be a 50p magnet, no matter what it might mean in an ideal world. Don’t go feeling sorry for him: he has more power than you’ll ever have. He probably relishes this controversy. You’ll have your own battle to fight: let Morrissey fight his. He’s hardly a bloody martyr for being hit by a carton of juice, is he? He’s a pop singer, not Jesus – IM (Ian McCann, NME, 29 August 1992) https://mycuttings.blogspot.com/2021/04/1992-08-29-morrissey-nme.html

In the past, Morrissey’s interesting and ambiguous foibles were of a personal nature; his new fascinations have taken him into an altogether more public domain. Morrissey’s sexuality, for instance, subject to so much speculation and teasing over the years, is, at the end of the day, his own affair. His flirtation with skinhead/nationalist/racist imagery and ideas is a whole other thing… It’s pathetic that so many of Morrissey’s fans feel driven to fight Morrissey’s battles for him (painting themselves, voluntarily or otherwise, into all sorts of disgusting corners) while the man himself hides behind the lavender handkerchief of Artistry. WHY? (Danny Kelly, NME, 5 September 1992) 
https://mycuttings.blogspot.com/2021/04/1992-09-05-morrissey-nme.html

The footage of the gig has been on YouTube since at least 2008 – confirming that the crowd heckled things like ‘bloody poof’ and their aggression had everything to do with his ‘prancing’ and nothing to do with the flag. And it’s backed up with eye witness accounts from the day disputing the NME version.

In his book, Cider with Roadies, Maconie recounts his near-guilt at his then-employers, the NME, trying to finish off his hero by daubing him as a racist. Maconie tells the tale of Morrissey’s doomed gig at Finsbury Park, supporting Madness in 1992 and gets it as wrong wrong wrong as everyone else has down the years. I was there, near the front, so let me explain. Morrissey was on the same bill as Ian Dury, Flowered Up, Gallon Drunk and, of course, Madness. What kind of audience do you think those bands had? Maconie’s account (and the usual old cobblers recorded in music press annals) is that Mozzer was bottled off by a liberal crowd who disapproved of him waving the Union Jack and singing a song about the National Front. In this version, the Finsbury Park crowd turn their back on our hero because he is ‘flirting’ with ‘racism’ etc etc. Actually, Madness’ crowd – who knew? – had a very rough and tumble skinhead element who despised Morrissey for his perceived gayness. There he was in his gold lame shirt, prancing around playing his B-sides, when the first 50 rows of the crowd would have preferred someone more suitable to slot into the none-more-geezerish bill. Chas and Dave, maybe. There were chants and heckles that these days would be called homophobic and eventually he was bottled off. I got a punch in the face too. There were loads of fights all over the place and no security. The summer of love it wasn’t. Mozzer was NOT bottled off for being too right wing. He was bottled off for not being right wing enough. For being too gay. Of course you could blame Mozzer himself for his still-ongoing attempts to ally and ingratiate himself with the Big-Lads-With-Tattoos-Who-Don’t-Like-Poetry faction. You might say he was asking for it, starting the set with a load of B-sides. But I am sure if any of the other acts on that stage that Saturday had waved the flag, much of the crowd would have been only too happy to fall in line and prepare to invade France. (The Pastel Collision, WordPress, March 19th 2009) https://pastelcollision.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/117/

A few months later the Union Jack was everywhere – a key symbol of Britpop – which started with the ersatz queer Suede before de-queering Indie completely.

Select, April 1993

In 1997, NME editor, Steve Sutherland – who had written a homophobic review of Morrissey’s Hulmerist VHS, and who thought that Billy MacKenzie had been made gay, possibly by Morrissey – repeated lies from his former paper, the Melody Maker, to argue in Vox, that Morrissey was the only artist (in the entire history of showbiz) too sinister to touch a Union Jack.

[Morrissey] had appeared at Finsbury Park the previous weekend on a bill with Madness and draped himself in the Union Jack, inciting a flurry of Sieg Heils in the crowd and a shower of coins and cans. Morrissey had already been flirting with skin and suedehead imagery in his recent solo work… five years on and Geri Spice appears at the Brits in a Union Jack dress… Morrissey flaunting the flag in a field full of nascent racists is a tad closer to the Nuremberg Rally than Geri Spice wearing the flag on telly. The symbolism is far heavier and the intent quite conceivably more sinister. (Steve Sutherland, Vox, June 1997)

“His sexual orientation seemed to change after Sulk [1982] ” says Steve Sutherland. “When I first met him, he had a girlfriend. After that, there was no question that he was homosexual.”… mid-eighties gossip suggested Morrissey and Mackenzie were having an affair. (Paul Lester, Uncut, June 1997)   
http://www.billymackenzie.com/articles/uncut0697.htm

Vox Caption: Jack off! Morrissey prompted universal outrage in 1992 when he appeared at Finsbury Park draped in the flag. Skinheads seig-heiled and Moz was accused of, at best, irresponsibility, at worst, racism. His career never recovered.

Vox, 1997

Things didn’t improve until 2004 & they fell apart again in 2007 when he was interviewed in the NME, by Tim Jonze.

By the 2000s, London, and other major cities had gentrified and corportised. Morrissey was ambivalent about it. But he had clearly been against draconian (antagonistic, racist) immigration policies.

All the awful cliches about Los Angeles are, of course true. But I feel less affected by them than most, because I happen to think that ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE are mad. (Morrissey, Rolling Stone, September 1999)

Two compelling reasons emerge as to why he has stayed put in LA. The first is that he has become inexplicably popular with Mexicans… The other big draw for him in LA is his house. “It’s quite decayed, but all the more interesting for that. It remains in the condition it was in when I stepped into it. The paint is peeling, and I’ve had a few floods.” It is, in fact, a place redolent with Hollywood legends and decades of partying, known to movie historians as “the gayest house in Hollywood”…  One of the reasons he was not unhappy to leave Camden, he says, was because of the way it became trendy around the time of Britpop. Bands such as Blur began talking up the local bars, “which was disturbing, because the pubs in the area, which had a flavour of the past, were suddenly full of trendy foreign students. It was shocking”. (Robert Sandall, Sunday Times, 9 May 2004)

My mother still lives [in Manchester], I can’t recognize the town. Everything has been restored. It’s an incredible town, where people are stylish, sexy. When I was younger, it was a depressive, dark town, showing scars from war. And then, suddenly, the elders are gone: where did they put them? Are they all dead? I just see now young people up with fashion, with tan skin due to the sun. But, well, I don’t imagine myself like that, so no regret. (Morrissey, Les Inrockuptibles, 19 May 2004, translation by Guillaume Deleurence)

With all my heart I urge people to vote against George Bush. Jon Stewart would be ideal, but John Kerry is the logical and sane move. It does not need to be said yet again, but Bush has single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet. For non-Americans, the United States is suddenly not a very nice place to visit because US immigration officers – under the rules of Bush – now conduct themselves with all the charm and unanswerable indignation of Hitler’s SS. Please bring sanity and intelligence back to the United States. Don’t forget to vote. Vote for John Kerry and get rid of George Bush! (Morrissey, True to You, 28 October 2004)

The Smiths, a visual documentary, Johnny Rogan, Omnibus Press, 1994. The UK left was against American global hegemony – seeing it as a form of cultural imperialism.

The first signs of trouble played out on fan websites and newspaper blogs.

I was in the vicinity when Tim from the NME sat down with Morrissey and raised the issue of immigration and the influx of immigrants to the UK. Morrissey agreed that it was a problem and Timothy continued with some leading questions. (Anonymous, Morrissey Solo, 19 November 2007)

Hi Merck [Morrissey’s then manager], Hope you’re well. I should mention that for reasons I’ll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the Moz piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I’ve asked for my name to be taken off it. Just so you know when you read it. Best, Tim (email from Tim Jonze, posted on True To You, 27 November 2007)

Hi Merck. I need to drop you a line about the Morrissey piece running in NME this week. It’s going to be much stronger than we’d originally discussed. Having lived with Morrissey’s comments from the second interview and discussed [them] with the editorial team we’re running a piece where the comments aren’t ducked and NME’s position is made very clear… given that his views are not those that we’d normally expect to come from someone in the very liberal world of rock’n’roll, we’re not able to either support them or print them without comment. (email from NME editor, Conor McNicholas, posted on True To You, 27 November 2007)

When reading it we request that you think for yourself and consider what is question and answer and what is inflammatory editorial on the part of the NME… (Merek Mercuriadis, True To You, 27 November 2007) https://web.archive.org/web/20080702201247/http://luckylisp.com/

The Guardian wrote in his defense:

To further muddy the issue, unlike Powell’s largely venomous, racially-slanted speech, Morrissey’s follow-up interview comments consist pretty much of what you’d expect of any reader of this newspaper. Explicitly denying that immigration is the reason he doesn’t want to live in Britain, he damns this country over the cost of living and the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, admits that managed immigration “enriches” the country, says his favourite actor and singer are from Israel and Iraq, says he finds racism “very silly” and supports the Love Music Hate Racism campaign. Indeed, he wanted the slogan on the (now withdrawn by NME) free single. Although the use of language like “the gates are flooded, anybody can have access to England” is perhaps unfortunate when taken out of context, in the context of the interview his position is remarkably similar to that adopted by all three mainstream political parties in this country – that immigration is beneficial but shouldn’t be a free for all, nor should it be contrary to the retention of a firm and recognisably British national and cultural identity. Without wishing to sound like his hero Kenneth Williams, the latter is the central thrust of Morrissey’s position… I agree with NME that in the current climate Morrissey’s comments – and certainly, the way they have been sensationalised – are “unhelpful”, so why are they a) prompted in interview and b) splashed across the cover of the paper? (Dave Simpson, 28 November 2007) https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2007/nov/28/mozgate

But also condemned him – mostly based on the Finsbury Park article from 1992 – though adding in the detail that he’s an Irish immigrant. His ‘comeback’ hit, ‘Irish Blood English Heart’, had made his ethnic and religious background hard to ignore. Rather than making them rethink the allegation that he was a racist for holding a Union Jack, it just added to their disgust with him.

the son of Irish immigrants should have known better. I suppose I just blanked out his appearance draped in the union flag at Finsbury Park. I dealt with it by not listening to Morrissey any more, confining myself to the Smiths records I had loved in more innocent times. But the latest gaffe is probably one too many. The complaint that Britain is losing itself is the classic whinge of an expat – no more serious than that – but there comes a time when you can’t listen to music made by someone whose views you find repugnant.  (Jeevan Vasgar, the Guardian, 29 November 2007) https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2007/nov/29/whythisbritishasiandoesnt

Then Jonze wrote a Guardian blog in which he blamed Morrissey for a British Empire which had laws against Irish Catholics, compared him to a BNP which would have murdered him for his sexuality, blamed him for fear-mongering press coverage which Jonze was about to add to, and told him to apologise and educate himself about race issues when Jonze knew absolutely nothing about Irish Catholic or LGBT+ issues.

I wrote a piece saying that Morrissey – although liberal in many of his views – was using the language of the BNP and Enoch Powell when it came to immigration. In the piece I mentioned that his comments likening the UK to that of “going to Zagreb and hearing nothing but Irish accents” were offensive as they compared British ethnic minorities to tourists. I also said he was being overly nostalgic for a Britain built partly on empire and imperialism and that someone as well travelled as Morrissey had no excuses for such comments…. Were Morrissey’s comments ill-informed and likely to provoke anger inside those of us who are tired of hearing the right wing press and the BNP whip up fear with the same factually distorted statements? Undoubtedly…. If Morrissey holds these opinions he should either be sticking to his guns and standing by them or – more honorably – educating himself on race issues, realising why his comments were both offensive and inflammatory, and apologising for them as quickly as is humanly possible. (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 30 November 2007) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/nov/30/timjonze

Now, if I’d come screaming out of the interview shouting “HE’S USING THE LANGUAGE OF THE BNP, I’M GOING TO TELL THE WORLD” then I’d never have got to see the gigs (essential part of my brief) and I’d have had pressure from management to swing the piece in their favour which, although it wouldn’t have made a difference, I’d sooner not have to put up with. There’s no obligation to tell management that you don’t like their artist’s comments. It’s his own stupid fault for spouting all that drivel. By now, Morrissey should really know how interviews work. He doesn’t deserve warnings and copy approval. (Tim Jonze, below the line comment, the Guardian, 2 December 2007)

The interview was published in the NME on 1 December 2007. Morrissey said nothing bad. The shock-horror value rested on hyping up a few dramatic words – this is a man who writes love songs about being killed by a ten-ton truck – linking it to the Finsbury Park story – and lying about his ‘immigration stance’.

NME Editorial: there comes a jarring moment towards the end when he steers the conversation on to a topic we never thought we’d find ourselves discussing with him again: immigration. Suddenly the natural biligerance we’ve come to expect from him over the years takes him into dangerous territory.

Are you annoyed by the state of the world?

Can we help but be annoyed? Certainly in England, everyone is taxed for everything under the guise of saving the planet. Which is pathetic because unless cutbacks happen on an industrial level then the world will always be a mess.

Is there hope for the future?

I don’t see why because to be a politician you have to be corrupt. There’s no democracy in England because they pay no attention to the people who elected them. If anything, they quite despise them.

You live in Italy now? Would you ever consider moving back to Britain?

Britain’s a terribly negative place. And it hammers people down and it pulls you back and it prevents you. Also, with the issue of immigration. It’s very difficult because, although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears. So, the price is enormous. If you travel to Germany, it’s still absolutely Germany. If you travel to Sweden, it still has a Swedish identity. But travel to England and you have no idea where you are.

Why does it bother you?

It matters because the British identity is very attractive. I grew up with it, and I find it quaint and very amusing. But England is a memory now. Other countries have held onto their identity, yet it seems to me, England was thrown away.

Isn’t immigration enriching the British identity, rather than diluting it?

It does in a way, and it’s nice in a way. But you have to say goodbye to the Britain you once knew.

That’s just the world changing.

But the change in England is so rapid compared to the change in any other country. If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won’t hear an English accent. You’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent.

It’s worth pointing out here that Knightsbridge is the most expensive street in London and it’s mostly owned by absentee billionaires whose contribution to British culture amounts to a couple of weeks a year. And that since the invasion of Ukraine on the 24th February 2022, there’s been an effort to get rid of the Russians. https://news.sky.com/story/shameful-inaction-from-ministers-still-allows-russian-dirty-money-to-flow-through-uk-says-report-12642870

For two decades, Russian cash surged into the capital – Transparency International has estimated that between 2015 and 2022 alone, £1.5bn of property was bought by Russians accused of corruption or having links to the Kremlin: by the end, London was so popular with Russia’s richest, it became known as “Londongrad”. “You didn’t actually think at the time that a lot of people had been crushed, or whatever happened to them in Russia… You look back on… the nine unsolved murders. And of course, what’s happening today, with this ghastly Putin. And you’ve got to realise that they have no respect for human life. They have no respect for anything.” (Emma Haslett, the New Statesman, 11 May 2022) https://www.newstatesman.com/the-business-interview/2022/05/they-have-no-respect-for-anything-the-quiet-remorse-of-the-man-who-sold-london-to-putins-oligarchs

That’s not true, you sound like a Tory.

Mmmmmm. I understand, because 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. I’m saying it’s a reality and to many people it’s shocking.

After the infamous race row [the 1992 Finsbury Park story], do you not worry about talking about this?

Not really, because the more I travel the more I love the world as a whole.

There are people who are still very offended by some of your songs.

If you consider yourself to be a social writer then you have to stretch yourself and put certain topics on the table for discussion. And I think it’s quite interesting to push people slightly and see how far they’ll go before they put their hands up and say, hang on. But I can’t understand why anybody would be offended.

The line that a lot of people find hardest is from Bengali In Platforms [written in 1988, nearly 20 years previously], ‘life is hard enough when you belong here’.

Yes, but those people don’t know the protagonist in the song, who didn’t belong here. I wasn’t writing about those people. It was someone else.

So why don’t they belong here?

Because they didn’t. Some people just don’t.

Again – it’s worth pointing out that Morrissey had direct experience of growing up between two cultures (Dublin and Manchester) and that he’d talked about the confusion it caused, the discrimination he’d faced, and the way he often felt he didn’t belong.

I’m wondering if you’ve ever felt completely at home. Do you mean on this planet? Yeah. Not at all. That’s what I fret about all the time. There’s a place in my mind, obviously a little fantasy setting, as there is in all our minds—but no. And what’s that fantasy? It’s self-control, and it’s learning to be still and be quiet and sit still and not be concerned about the revolving world. But it’s just a place of peace. Feeling settled with oneself. (Morrissey, GQ, April 2004) https://www.gq.com/story/morrissey-interview-jim-nelson/amp

NME Editorial: This is not the first time that Morrissey has trod clumsily around the area of immigration. At the start of the 90s there was a huge fallout between Morrissey and this magazine. On August 22nd 1992 NME’s cover featured an image of Morrissey prancing around on stage at Finsbury Park with a Union Jack flag and the coverline “Flying the flag or flirting with disaster?” Inside the piece accused Morrissey of experimenting with racist imagery, not just at the Finsbury Park show where he was supporting Madness (whose audience at that time included a vocal contingent of far right National Front supporters), but also in the lyrics of some of his songs. 1998‘s Bengali In Platforms from his 1st solo album, Viva Hate, contained the couplet: “oh, shelve your Western plans/ And understand that life is hard enough when you belong here”. Meanwhile the brazenly titled National Front Disco, ostensibly the tale of a mother grieving for a son lost to right-wing extremism, was widely criticised for its lyrical ambiguity in lines such as “you’ve gone to the National Front disco/ Because you want the day to come sooner. As is the case today, the early 90s were agitated times when a new influx of immigration [there was no influx of immigration] coincided with the rise of far right activity and the BNP recruiting at an alarming rate.

I gather you were unhappy with how some of your comments came across.

That’s not entirely true. I just think it could be construed that the reason I wouldn’t wish to live in England is the immigration explosion. And that’s not true at all. I am actually extremely worldly and there are other reasons why I would find England very difficult., such as the expense and the pressure. And certain things do worry me. In my view the face of Britain is not Gordon Brown or David Cameron, but Jean Charles de Menezes. His story, I find shocking, absolutely. It was termed an accident, but you don’t shoot someone seven times in the head, by accident. The people who control these investigations are always in on the game, and everybody associated with the murder was exonerated or promoted, which is shocking.

Ok, but did you think back over anything you said and think, ‘I don’t mean that’?

I feel that… the racism slur is dead wood, isn’t it? And in my life my favourite actor is an Israeli, Lior Ashkenazi, and my favourite singer was born in Iraq and now lives in Egypt. So, I’m not part of Little Britain. And by that I don’t mean the show, obviously.

Here, Morrissey is reminded – yet again – that he doesn’t belong in England – and he isn’t entitled to a full range of opinions.

Immigration allowed your parents into Britain and that’s how you got to make your very British music.

Yes, but once again, it’s different now. Because the gates are flooded. And anybody can have access to England and join in.

If you were in charge would you close the gates?

You have to be sensible about everything in life. You can’t say ‘everybody come into my house, sit on the bed, have what you like, do what you like. It wouldn’t work.

This gets related to Asians – despite the increase in immigration in 2007 being due to freedom of movement within the European Union – and Morrissey not mentioning Asians – or expressing any hostility to any immigrants.*

If you were an Asian Morrissey fan and you read that, would you not feel like you were being blamed for something?

No, I wouldn’t at all. I don’t blame anybody. Millions of people leave the country every year because they don’t recognise the place, so I’m not saying anything unusual. If you travelled to Croatia tomorrow, for instance, and walked around Zagreb hearing nothing but Dublin accents, you’d find it shocking.

Do you think these comments are at the very least badly worded?

No, not at all. I don’t think they’re inflammatory, they’re a statement of fact. Whatever England is now, it’s not what it was, and it’s lamentable that we’ve lost so much.

Did you see the Love Music Hate Racism issue of NME?

Yes.

Would you like to support that campaign?

Yes. Although I find racism very silly. Almost too silly to discuss. It’s beyond reason, and makes no sense and is ludicrous. I’ve never heard a good argument in favour of racism. I gather this is going to be a sensational scathing piece and I’m going to be pilloried?

This isn’t a stitch up. There is obviously a need for debate around taboo issues like immigration.

Well, I agree with you. So what you’ve just said in the final seconds of this conversation is my point entirely.

But some people could find your comments very offensive.

I can’t imagine anyone being offended by it. Why would I want to offend anyone? I think people want to be offended and there really is nothing we can do about that.

NME Editorial: so there we leave it, shocked that 15 years on, we’re once again locking horns with Morrissey over the issue of cultural identity in Britain. Morrissey, the son of immigrants, who has lived for most of the past decade in either LA or Rome wants others to have the freedom to travel the world like him, but implies that he would shut the gates to people coming to live in the UK [he didn’t] At the very least it smacks of naive hypocrisy, but mostly sounds like the ravings of a rogue Tory MP. And at the very worst? Well, we’re certain that Morrissey would absolutely seek to distance himself from racist organisations, what he won’t realise is that the language he’s using about a ‘traditional’ England lost under a ‘flood’ of immigration dangerously echoes that used by the crypto-fascist BNP. Here at NME fresh from the support we’ve given the recent Love Music Hate Racism campaign, we’re not in the mood to play in grey areas. He might once have been the voice of a generation, but given his comments in these two interviews, he’s certainly not speaking for us now. https://illnessasart.com/2021/12/16/nme-1-december-2007/amp/

The hard/far right hates immigrants. They don’t just miss old things. They don’t just use words in ways that ‘liberal’ magazines disapprove of. Although that ‘liberal’ magazine had no issue with homophobic language or homophobic violence. And in ripping out ‘England is flooded’ etc – that ‘liberal’ magazine was giving tabloids and the far right an excuse to spread more hate.

So that The Sun could claim that Morrissey supported their aggressive demonisation of immigrants. http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ifs/hi/newsid_4110000/newsid_4112500/4112513.stm

10 years later, white supremacists, Generation Identity England, could use it in their memes.

And The New European would think it was ‘ironic’ that Morrissey didn’t support the Tories or Trump (not twigging that Morrissey thought May’s immigration policy was antagonistic, not too lax) – while reminding him that he’s from a nastier immigrant group – and fretting about a distinctive cultural identity – a thing immigrant, sexually ambiguous, Morrissey – isn’t allowed to do.

In May 2017, Morrissey took to Facebook to tell his followers what to blame for the bomb that killed young music lovers in the native city of Manchester: “Theresa May says such attacks ‘will not break us’, (meaning) that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration.” A fandom turns its back and gags… It is worth noting that the bomber was born in Manchester to Libyan parents. Like most extremists, he was a second generation migrant, and it didn’t escape me that Morrissey was born to Irish immigrants and grew up at a time when the IRA were creating more pain and misery on the British mainland than the Islamic State are capable of today. Should Elizabeth and Peter Morrissey have been denied the right to settle in Manchester? Should Morrissey’s romantic Manchurian childhood have been precluded by the minuscule possibility that he would grow up and plan a mass murder instead of merely sing about one? Ironically, Morrissey ought to be a fan of the Conservative government, who have used thick layers of bureaucracy and restrictions to create conditions that barely fall short of President Trump’s infamous travel ban by making it almost impossible for anybody from African and the Arab world to settle in the UK… In 2016, as Morrissey and John Lydon celebrated Brexit from the Hollywood hills, I created a new rule and decided to delete every song I had that hadn’t been realised in the previous two years… unless we make an effort to rally around new voices, our generation will sink into history without a distinctive sound to call its own. (Nicholas Barrett, the New European, 25 June 2018)

Morrissey was upset by the NME’s hit piece.

My heart sank as Tim Jonze let slip the tell-all editorial directive behind this interview: “it’s Conor’s view that Morrissey thinks black people are OK … but he wouldn’t want one living next door to him.” It was then that I realized the full extent of the setup… (Morrissey, the Guardian, 4 December 2007)
https://amp.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2007/dec/04/morrisseyresponds

The NME claimed he singled out immigration.

There is no doubt Britishness is changing… [but]… To single out immigration as the key is, we believe, inaccurate and inappropriate. This matters because it’s the kind of victimisation, of ‘us’ and ‘them’, and we’re not into that, not one bit. (Connor McNicholas, NME, 8 December 2007)

And denied making the article inflammatory.

A spokeswoman for the NME said it stood by its story and awaited a writ. “We haven’t done anything to make the interview read in a more inflammatory way,” she said. (Oliver Duff, the Independent, 29th November 2007) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/morrissey-blames-immigration-for-disappearance-of-british-identity-760825.html?amp

Ex-NME hack, Steve Wells, wrote a hit piece – misinterpreting his lyrics, taking quotes out of context – telling him he doesn’t belong here and doesn’t understand the English – entirely oblivious to far right homophobia.

I’ve never liked Morrissey. His band the Smiths all but wrecked Brit alt-music in the 1980s. And then there was his penchant for dodgy statements about race and ethnicity. “Reggae is vile,” he sniffed. “Obviously, to get on Top of the Pops these days one has to be, by law, black,” he whined. He flirted with skinhead imagery. He draped himself in the flag. And there was “Bengali in Platforms”—a song the NME called “a convoluted diatribe against assimilation”—featuring the line: “Life is hard enough when you belong here.” And “We’ll Let You Know,” in which Moz serenaded soccer hooligans as “the last truly British people you’ll ever know.”… then, a couple weeks ago, Moz gave an interview to the NME during which he vomited up the sort of ill-informed stupidity about immigration that one often hears from embittered and pig-ignorant old idiots, usually prefaced with: “I’m not racist but … ” “These days you won’t hear an English accent in Knightsbridge,” said Moz—a bit rich, coming from a son of Irish immigrants who now lives in Rome. “The gates of England are flooded. The country’s been thrown away,” he moaned, sounding horribly like some vote-grubbing anti-immigrant politician.The English have always been good at hybridity. We’re a hybrid people. Total mongrels. It’s our greatest strength. It’s what makes us English. It’s astounding Morrissey has never grasped this. (Steven Wells, Philadelphia Weekly, 12 December 2007)

Ex-NME hack, David Quantick, would use a review to associate Morrissey with Enoch Powell, the National Front, Tories, Eric Clapton (who had made white supremacist comments at a gig in the 1970s, and supported Enoch Powell, without it harming his career – it’s Morrissey who gets the punishment for Eric’s politics) He also used it to claim that Morrissey’s – homoerotic – solo music excluded minorities, and to state that he should be ashamed of himself because he’s an immigrant.

But what I find intolerable is the sheer, deep-dyed, everyone-loathing self-obsession of the man. And even that… would be less unpleasant if it hadn’t manifested itself in what is surely the least attractive trait in any popular musician since Eric Clapton sided with Enoch Powell… I can accept his all-too-frequent songs about British culture (let’s have them: Asian Rut, Bengali In Platforms, The National Front Disco, Irish Blood English Heart) are sincere attempts to address thorny topics. I’m sure his love for skinheads and the Union Jack is rooted in… eroticism and patriotism. Fine.What vexes me is that once Morrissey made music that talked about the underdog, the victim, those in the minority. Now he makes music that excludes those people. The odd song about a Mexican gang member and a lonely lesbian doesn’t disguise the fact that he’s quite happy to dismiss a whole chunk of the population as people who, to use the nasty phrase from Bengali In Platforms, don’t belong here… as the child of an immigrant parent, he really should know better than to attack immigration (which is, you ignorant quiffy rock exile, what keeps this country from being a Royal Family-led NF tourist park). For his waving of the flag (for publicity too, it would seem), for his ingrained habit of paying lip service to anti-racism while talking like an old Tory immigration spokesman, and for his abandonment of everything that made The Smiths a band for outsiders, Morrissey should be ashamed of himself. Sadly, he never will be” (David Quantick, The Word, March 2008)

Finsbury was the keystone for every narrative denouncing Morrissey as a bigot. And just as his suspected homosexuality was the reason for his racism – his Irishness became a reason for his (English) racism.

The two decades in between show a pattern of questionable behaviour from Morrissey. ‘Reggae is vile’, Bengali in Platforms, Asian Rut, National Front Disco, We’ll Let You Know: none of it decisively damning, of course… The divorce came in 1992. The NME, which had overindulged on Moz for years, ran a piece questioning a particular kind of flag worship in front of an audience of skinheads… Irish Blood, English Heart is an ambiguous call to arms wishing the English could rally round the flag without being called racists… Morrissey brought up the issue of immigration effectively unprompted… So it appears to be something he genuinely wants to talk about, and always has… the words of this ageing English-speaking Rome-resident economic migrant are dull and distasteful, and say nothing to me about my life. (Rob Morgan, MSN Music, December 2007)

Morrissey sued The Word, and won, in 2008. He would also sue the NME and win an apology in 2012. Which only made (some of) the UK press hate him more. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nme-finally-gives-morrissey-what-he-wants-vfrpc80c0n8

Guardian Media Group, the parent company of the publisher of the Guardian and MediaGuardian, owns a 29.5% stake in Development Hell, the company that publishes the Word. (Ben Cardew, the Guardian, 29th June 2012)
https://amp.theguardian.com/media/2012/jun/29/magazine-word-to-close

A couple of anonymous homophobic articles mentioning Jonze were published in The Quietus – calling him a truculent fruit & wheeling out the ‘gay men can’t be trusted with children’ trope.

Morrissey To Tell All In Autobiography… Tim Jonze to get own chapter?.. Asked if he was referring to the ongoing Moz is a bit of fascist NME hoo-hah, the truculent fruit replied… (The Quietus , October 22nd, 2008) https://thequietus.com/articles/00589-morrissey-to-tell-all-in-autobiography

Morrissey In Satanic Baby Record Sleeve Shocker… Morrissey has been painted as a few unpleasant things in his time – Nazi, control freak, skinhead-appeaser, reggae-hater, sanctimonious vegetarian… Now he’s really gone potty, if the cover for his new album Years Of Refusal is to believed. What, pray, is that on Morrissey’s arm? The result of a chip pan accident? A vicious assault from Tim Jonze’s biro or Andy Rourke’s voodoo doll? A cheap, ill-conceived tattoo done in Camden after one of Moz’ nights out in the Edinburgh Castle? More disturbing, though, is the baby that he’s holding. Whose is it, for a start? Ponder that, and look at the baby’s forehead… We’ve only got a Photoshop-defying low-res version to examine, but what on earth are those lumps and bumps, arranged in a suspicious pattern? Might not they be a pentagram carved into the poor mite’s perplexed noggin? People should be told. (The Quietus , December 2nd, 2008) https://thequietus.com/articles/00822-morrissey-in-satanic-baby-record-sleeve-shocker

But they also reported that the NME wanted to use Finsbury Park as evidence against him.

…the NME’s lawyers argued that it would be unreasonable to expect them to remember the events of 2007, yet they went on to stress that if the case went to trial, they would wish to cross-examine Morrissey on events leading back not 3, but 19, years, to 1992, when the NME aggressively ran a “is Morrissey racist?” campaign. (The Quietus, November 7th, 2011) https://thequietus.com/articles/07345-morrissey-issues-nme-statement

In 2010, Jonze joined the Guardian and used its clout and credibility to “prove” Morrissey was a racist, shaming charities, roping in colleagues and lobbying for the music industry to shun him.

It was the NME row that led to the word ‘subspecies’ being lifted from a Morrissey interview (in the Guardian, in 2010) – and continuously repeated to condemn him. If they worried about the effects of ‘inflammatory’ language then endlessly repeating it to destroy an Indie singer, who mostly refused to give interviews, and who clarified that he was only condemning China’s welfare laws, was a strange way of improving race relations.

Wilful testing of race-related taboos really ought to stop. He’s caused enough upset on race in the past to know perfectly well that he ought to take care with his public remarks. But he hasn’t. So if the charge is causing racial offence, the only feasible judgment is guilty. (Tom Clark, 3rd September 2010) https://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/sep/03/morrissey-race-taboos-tom-clark

Guardian’s Culture editor

Morrissey stayed his contrary self.

If you’re asking me if I miss Wilfred Pickles, the answer is no. I don’t miss the old Manchester of my youth because it was too violent. You’d walk through city centre Piccadilly on a Saturday afternoon and it would be a constant test of nerve. As soon as someone met your gaze you knew you were in trouble. (Morrissey, Loaded, February 2013)

It doesn’t take much to be thrown into a cell at LAX! You will notice that the Immigration Officers are persistently ordering you to ‘stand there’, which is a test to see if you will bow to their orders… they can​ ​be as illegal as they wish. Incidentally, when I arrived in Sydney last year the officer at Passport Control did her best to insult me and to cause a scene when there was no need… They use the ISIS issue as an excuse to denigrate everyone, and they absolutely love it. ​(Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 August 2016)

But the stress of being relentlessly attacked by supposedly progressive Guardian journalists – who were repeating lies and misinterpretations that were decades old, while trying to twist everything he said into a new public outrage – took its toll.

Regular Guardian freelance contributor

Between 2009 and 2014 his mental and physical health significantly declined. https://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/13/showbiz/music/morrissey-cancels-concerts/index.html

In 2017, his new album, Low In High School, was derailed by social media’s amplification of every out of context quote or false claim every made about him.

In a 2010 interview with the Guardian, he referred to the Chinese as a subspecies. In 2014, he told fans there was no difference between eating animals and pedophilia. Before and after these comments, Morrissey repeatedly, consistently made nasty remarks about immigrants… we need to stop giving Morrissey a platform to be so awful. This means newspapers need to stop interviewing him and people need to stop going to his shows and buying his albums… and anyway, his new album “Low in High School” and its flirting-with-fascism lyrics is no “The Queen is Dead.” (Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald, 7 December 2017)

Looking for an explanation for the Guardian’s implacable disfavour, his nephew seems to have picked up on alt/far-right memes that were aimed at left-wing wedge issues. Vegans, feminists and LGBTQ+ people were particularly targeted. Which is why Morrissey believed that, Anne Marie Waters, who went from the Labour Party, to UKIP, to her own movement, For Britain, was being lied about.

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!!! (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 20 April 2018)

The Guardian want to destroy you because you said you were not a member of the ‘Loony Left’. At this stage, anything you say they will turn into a global threat to humanity. (Sam Esty Rayner, Morrissey Central, April 2019, published on 24 June 2019)

Mentioning Anne Marie Waters (3 times), For Britain (3 times, he wore their badge twice), and Tommy Robinson (once, in one sentence; Robinson being the far right grifter who recruited Anne Marie to what she believes is the centre right, who is now co-opting** the ‘gender critical movement’, which is supported by several Guardian journalists, sitcom writer Graham Linehan and J K Rowling), was the killer blow.

The For Britain Badge joined the Union Jack as a visual symbol of his unique evil.

Finally, his career seemed to be dead, and in the obit, Tim Jonze wrote that it was Morrissey who was aggressive at Madstock. The victim of a hate crime, had been made into the perpetrator of a hate crime: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/may/30/bigmouth-strikes-again-morrissey-songs-loneliness-shyness-misfits-far-right-party-tonight-show-jimmy-fallon

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. When – according to Pat Long’s book The History of the NME – the paper’s sole black writer Dele Fadele persuaded NME’s editors to publish a critical cover story about it, Morrissey refused to speak to the magazine for 12 years. Tjinder Singh from Cornershop says his band were admirers of the Smiths, but began to feel wary of Morrissey in the late 80s, thanks to the tone of his solo songs such as Bengali in Platforms (“Shelve your western plans / And understand / That life is hard enough when you belong here”). In fact, by 1992, Singh was so incensed by the singer’s behaviour, Cornershop burned a picture of the singer outside the central London offices of EMI, Morrissey’s label. “We took action because we needed to. We expected other people to take action, but it never happened.” It is hard not to agree that proper, forceful criticism of Morrissey is overdue. (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 30 May 2019)

This homophobic lie remains on the Guardian website – and the article is one of the first things to come up if you Google Morrissey. Which might be ironic:

Where an older generation of music writers succumbed to something akin to homosexual panic in the face of Turner and Kane’s swinging sixties idyll, Jonze used it as the spur for a bold acknowledgement of the homo-erotic foundations of the UK’s rock ‘n’ roll heritage, blithely asserting that ‘a firm friendship between two consenting males has been the overriding story through five decades of British guitar music’. Perhaps there’s hope for the old paper after all. (Inky Fingers, the Guardian, 16 May 2008)  https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2008/may/16/inkyfingersmaggotylambpick5?CMP=gu_com

In three interviews with his nephew on Morrissey Central, spread over three years (2018-2020), he tried to explain why he was being accused of racism, which only gave them more material to falsely accuse him of racism.

… the blustering 80s idol is in irreversible decline… since 1992, when he supported Madness in north London’s Finsbury Park wrapped in a union jack, the singer’s pronouncements have tended towards the controversial… The word “bell-end” tends to appear in the comments section under reports of his antics on this organisation’s website. (Kitty Empire, the Guardian, 4 March 2018)

He’s not party political – but his views are left-leaning. https://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/36165/1/morrissey-blasts-theresa-may-praises-intelligent-corbyn

He dropped For Britain in May 2019.

But he’s still labeled ‘right-wing’ or ‘reactionary’ and is still a pariah.

In the modern-day culture wars, Morrissey’s emergence as, first, a critic of immigration, then a supporter of Nigel Farage, and finally an endorser of the proscribed far-right organisation Britain First put him on the wrong side of history – far beyond the pale. It’s so sad to see the once scourge of The Daily Mail’s middle England readership become such an espouser of its core values.
(Sean Smith, the Independent, 14 May 2022)

The Smiths’ song cast as long a shadow as the Sex Pistols’, and it is a peculiar irony that both bands’ singers soured into nostalgic reactionaries. (Dorian Lynskey, the Guardian, 1 June 2022)

While Tim Jonze found that John Lydon’s heterosexual relationship mitigated his – genuine, in context – pro-Trump, pro-Brexit, anti-woke, anti-BLM political opinions.

Lydon has been misunderstood for most of his life… So, yes, Lydon still backs Trump. But he dismisses our own Trumpian prime minister as a “Humpty Dumpty teddy bear” who can’t get anything done. Then he does another about-turn by hitting a rather Johnsonesque note about loving flag waving and his issues with “BLM and the woke and all of that – making problems that really were almost semi-non-existent”… It seems pointless to get into an argument about any of it. Instead, I think about how this follow-up call was made possible in the first place: Lydon is speaking from his bedroom, where he has set up a video monitor so he can keep an eye on [his wife] Nora… This, I suspect, is where the real John Lydon resides. The rest, as they say, is just noise. (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 13 June 2022) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/jun/13/john-lydon-sex-pistols-johnny-rotten-danny-boyle-the-queen

Side Note: one argument is that there was no homophobia against Morrissey because the 1980s had successful gay and bisexual pop stars. But they made dance music with a huge female fanbase, like the Pet Shop Boys, or they camped it up, like Elton John, or they were jammed in the closet, like George Michael. Morrissey was one of the few non-heterosexual men in Indie, he was the ‘voice of a generation’ – not One Of Them being Exotic – and he had a fanbase of teenage boys who wanted to touch him.

What about that story that you were “sick over a blonde” at the club?
I’m suing over that. Which is why The Sun have never been after me recently and are still after me. That story was a total fabrication — I was never even there, I never saw this girl. Next everyone’s telling me they’re going to run a big gay story on me. I’m prepared. As far as I’m concerned my life is on course now. I feel great now and I have to believe that the relationship I’ve built up with the public over the last 5 years strong enough to withstand any crap the papers throw at me. People have been saying that I was gay for years anyway; people have been questioning my sexuality from the start.
But you’ve always enjoyed playing with it, teasing people, haven’t you?
I did, yeah.
And you’ve deliberately never denied being gay?
Yeah, but that’s for three reasons. One, because I was playing with it. Secondly, I think it’s extremely distasteful that once you get in a position of public renown you’re supposed to prove your sexuality one way or another. Thirdly, what’s the point of denying it? It doesn’t make any difference if people want to believe it they will. I have no doubts about my sexuality. Anyway, if I had thought about sleeping with men and if I was going to do it I wouldn’t sit here and say it to Smash Hits. Sexuality is a totally private thing and it should always stay that way.
So what about someone like Morrissey who claims to be celibate?
I don’t believe Morrissey’s asexual. I believe he’s totally winding everybody up. I really do.
What if he’s not?
I think it’s a shame. Sex is one of the most important experiences in life and I think it’s a shame if it’s denied to anybody. I’m not advising 13 year olds to go and do it though.
(George Michael, Smash Hits, 3 June 1987)
https://gmforever.com/1987-smash-hits-magazine-interview-with-george-michael/

Before they became absorbed by multimedia Muzak, ‘Two Tribes’ and ‘Relax’ seemingly offered a ticket to amorality with their sado-masochistic lyrics and commercial dance rhythms. Disco (dance), hitherto the province of underground gay clubs, became publicly acceptable… without FGTH, “hetero” teen acts like Take That wouldn’t get away with their peculiar brand of homo-erotica… “We took questionable advice at the onset and perhaps the spotlight put on us by the media contributed to our falling apart. It was very thrilling but also disturbing and it definitely backfired on us. There was potential controversy the whole time. The imagery of bondage and sadomasochism I introduced was simply to attract attention because I believed people wanted sex and spectacle rather than serious musicianship.” For 18 heady months, the Frankie story had everything: sex, whores, controversy and ruined hotel rooms, with the classic sub-text of hard drugs, discarded teenyboppers, loose women, loose men, violence and vegetable oil.  (Max Bell, Vox, December 1993)
https://www.zttaat.com/article.php?title=209

In public homosexuals have to conform to certain unwritten rules of behaviour, which of course, do not apply to heterosexuals. If they don’t, they face intolerable heckling and in many cases physical assault. Queer-bashing still seems to be quite a popular sport in urban areas. (Salford University Students’ Union Gazette, 1 June 1978)

The past year has seen an increase in the number of attacks on gay people, the successful prosecution of Gay News and its subsequent banning by WH Smith, the vicious assaults on lesbians by the Evening News and the Daily Express, and the attack on the Royal Vauxhall Tavern by members of the National Front. Yet again gay people have been sacked, beaten up, and murdered and the police harassment of gay people has been stepped up. (Gay Pride, 1978, leaflet)

Remembering the day defiant activists clashed with the National Front over an iconic Huddersfield gay bar: Scott-Presland and other activists marched through Huddersfield towards the town’s polytechnic, where they had planned a day of entertainment for queer revellers. Needless to say, the march didn’t go off without a hitch, thanks to the ominous presence of the National Front. “We had tremendous excitement getting from the park to the thing because this is where all the National Front people came out of the woodwork,” (Patrick Kelleher, Pink News, 21 June 2021) https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2021/06/21/london-pride-huddersfield-west-yorkshire-police-the-gemini-gay-bar/

Gay Pride, 1981

A group of affluent teen-age ″skinheads″ suspected in attacks on up to two dozen homosexual men boasted to police after their arrest in a park, authorities said… The loose-knit group calls itself the Buffalo Rochester Aryan Skinheads, or B.R.A.S.H., and its 10 members live in affluent neighborhoods in the Rochester area… In his statement to police, one of the group’s leaders, 16-year-old Timothy Waite, of Rochester, said, ″Basically, what we believe is that we do not like blacks or homosexuals.″ Rickard said it appears the attacks were only against homosexuals. (Randolph Picht, AP News, 17 May 1989)

Garard and Hyder condemned hatred spawned by neo-Nazism and white supremacy. But they see no contradiction in advocating violence against gays as an act of morality, patriotism and self-defense. “I’ve fag-bashed before,” said Garard, acknowledging that his former apartment served as a base for skinheads, including some who told him they beat up Rod Johnson and others in September. Garard said he is aware of other groups of skinheads in the Washington area who have beaten gays. Many of the attacks have been in a part of Rock Creek Park, called the P Street Beach, that serves as a sexual rendezvous for gay men. Hyder and Garard said skinheads who beat gay men do so because they are offended by public expressions of homosexuality, such as gay men holding hands or kissing. Defending his attacks on homosexuals, Hyder said, “If they flaunt it in my face, that’s disrespectful.” Hyder said that gay men meeting for furtive sex at night in little-used parkland were not necessarily “flaunting” their homosexuality, but said he sought to beat them anyway because “it’s hard to do it in broad daylight. We’d get arrested.” Garard and Hyder said they feel threatened by homosexuality in society. (James Rupert,  Washington Post, 19 December 1988)

Three alleged neo-Nazi skinheads from Huntington Beach were found guilty Thursday of beating a Laguna Beach man in a gay-bashing incident but were acquitted of charges that they were trying to kill their victim. It was the first conviction in the state under a 1987 civil rights statute that outlaws crimes of hatred against a specific group, such as homosexuals, prosecutors said. The jury in Superior Court in Santa Ana also convicted each of the three men of felony assault. Gay community leaders said the misdemeanor civil rights conviction represents an important social statement of opposition to crimes aimed specifically at gays and other minority groups. (Eric Lichtblau, Los Angeles Times, 2 December 1988)

Guardian music contributor

The Secret Gay Life of Star Frankie” (Sunday Mirror, 9 Aug)… of course, as they tell it, the comedian’s gay nature was part of his “dark side”… Being gay can never… be a simple fact of life, it has to be “sordid”.
(Media Watch, Gay Times, September 1992)

Richard Ingrams in The Observer (3 June) had no doubt what was going on. “It is all part of the campaign by militant homosexuals to dictate the vocabulary… the expression ‘homosexual community’, suggesting a persecuted racial minority, helps lend respectability to the cause.”
(Media Watch, Gay Times, July 1990)

Side Note 2: more context/commentary on the Morrissey Question.

The allegation is dangerous and insulting… especially when you consider that he has never publicly espoused racist views… However, the NME is right to stress the alarming cumulative effects of Morrissey’s flirtation with right-wing imagery… Yes, he was fascinated by Suedehead and its lurid tale of violence against blacks and homosexuals, but… he wrote the wonderfully moving ‘Suffer Little Children’ and… his most romantic song (‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’) eulogised violent death… (Johnny Rogan, open letter in the NME, 29 August 1992)

Andrew Collins has changed his story a few times over the years:

Morrissey was “branded a racist” according to popular lore, which, although untrue, stuck. He declined to speak to the NME after this… He is a drama queen… (Andrew Collins, his blog, 28 November 2007) https://wp.me/pRMkU-7E

I maintain that the important bit was Dele’s editorial, and I will continue to maintain that. The ideal cover story would always have been an interview with Morrissey, perhaps conducted by Dele Fadele, or Danny Kelly… in 1992 we ran a piece that should have contained an interview, but didn’t, and had to rest upon editorial and speculation, and no rebuttal ever came… The NME had its own new spat with Morrissey and, ironically, this was much more similar to the Richard Herring story, in that it was based upon an interview, and came down to misrepresentation. And it went to court… It remains one of the very few NME covers that people remember from the 90s, and do you know why? Because 99% of NME covers were, and are, nice photos of bands, advertising their latest record or tour. Like it or loathe it, the August 1992 cover was an attempt at news; an instant reaction to events. I say an attempt, because a decent news story has input from the protagonists of the story – at the very least a statement. Ours had nothing of the sort… I will always wish Morrissey had spoken to us that week, even though what’s done is done and dwelling on the past causes tumours. This is not deflection of blame. We wrote what we wrote. But it could have been different, and it would have been better. However, since he is enjoying a purple patch of creativity and critical respect in middle age and seems (how can any of us ever know, even those of us who’ve met him) happy and looks terrific, I don’t feel guilty. (Andrew Collins, Morrissey Solo, August 1st 2009)

His writing partner, Richard Herring, had a similar experience – but is media savvy – so it didn’t last long. Morrissey is more emotional and gets upset with the editors.

In an attempt to prove the debatable point that there is a “new offensiveness” in comedy, Logan quoted that one off-colour line and nothing else. He then included contentious statements from two more of my routines (about hating Pakistanis and supporting the BNP), providing little indication of how or why they might have been said. Is it possible he interviewed me with an argument already in mind, cherry-picking the lines that supported his hypothesis? (Richard Herring, the Guardian, July 2009) https://amp.theguardian.com/stage/2009/jul/31/richard-herring-standup-comedian-brian-logan

Billy Bragg, the singer-songwriter and author of The Progressive Patriot, said yesterday: “I think what he said is inflammatory. He just doesn’t realise he’s playing with fire. I can’t help feeling there’s a certain wilfulness in talking to the NME and bringing these things up. (Ciar Byrne, the Independent, 5th December 2007)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/musical-differences-bigmouth-strikes-again-762871.html?amp

I wanted to read the new Morrissey interview. I was on the staff in 1992 when we ritually turned on the man, concerned that his thoughts on race and immigration were rather ambiguous. It was a defining moment, a chance to consider the Union Jack, the revival of Fascists in Britain and the wisdom of getting patriotic at a Madness gig in Finsbury Park… The new interview has been painted up as some titanic battle between the mag and the Moz. Certainly, they won’t be on speaking terms for another decade or two. Even the journalist Tim Jonze is unhappy, claiming that the paper has editorialised around his transcript. Morrissey’s management has threatened to sue. The gist of the debate is that the singer believes that the English character has been “flooded” by immigrants. He still yearns for the days of Nobby Stiles, Rita Tushingham and tetchy ruffians. He thinks this era was “quaint”, and essentially over. He’s surely correct. Which is rich coming from the son of a Dublin blow-in. Who lives in Italy, California, or wherever. But reading the piece, it seems that Moz bears no malice to the newcomers. Back in 1992, we might have welcomed this distinction. The new debate is half-cooked, loosely argued and out of character with the paper’s thin agenda. You know, it’s really nothing. (Stu Bailie, BBC Blogs, 1 December 2007) https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/stuartbailie/2007/12

John Harris has a faulty memory:

During the Thatcher years and beyond, Union Jacks, RAF targets and the merest whiff of patriotism were enough to prompt instant exclusion from “indie” circles. When Morrissey danced around with a Union Jack on stage in 1992, the NME’s headline was: “Flying the flag or flirting with disaster?” A year later, Blur heralded the release of Modern Life Is Rubbish with a promotional picture titled British Image 1, featuring the group clad in skinhead-style attire and posing with a threatening-looking dog, and some writers on the same paper, where I worked before I became the editor of Select, were equally irate. But then, almost without warning, there was a sea change. By 1995 the very word “Britpop” crystallised the sense of newly acceptable – albeit camped-up – patriotism. (John Harris, the New Statesman, 1 May 2017)

2 June 1990 – football and racial stereotypes in the Melody Maker

The Pat Long version is riddled with untruths and errors.

Forget acid house and baggy, Morrissey was the NME, something which made what happened in August 1992 all the more strange. On a sunny weekend in North London’s Finsbury Park, Madness re-formed to play their first gigs since they’d split acrimoniously in 1986. Only one act performing wasn’t a Londoner: Morrissey, who was due to go on stage immediately prior to the Nutty Boys. The paper’s sole black writer, [any gay writers?] Dele Fadele, arrived at the office, fuming. “Dele was an amazing guy,” says Collins, “a fabled African prince who lived in a squat. He came in to work absolutely impassioned and offended by what he’d seen at Finsbury Park.” As Fadele described it to the rest of the staff, Morrissey had waved a Union Jack thrown on to the stage in front of a huge picture of two skinhead girls taken by NME photographer Derek Ridgers in 1980. It was a provocative move in front of Madness’ crowd, which had always been dogged by an unaccountable association with the Far Right. [Suggs was a skinhead, and was friends with the lead singer of neo-Nazi band Skrewdriver] But the fact that Morrissey’s set also included the songs Bengali in Platforms (“Bengali, Bengali/ Oh, shelve your Western plans/ And understand/ That life is hard enough when you belong here”) [his set did not include Bengali In Platforms] and a new track, The National Front Disco, seemed calculated to inflame both the right-wing and liberal members of the crowd, for entirely different reasons. In retrospect Morrissey’s dalliance with skinhead imagery was just another manifestation of the singer’s fascination for rough boys rather than any evidence of fascist tendencies. But that year there was nothing cute about messing about with such imagery. 1992 was the year that Combat 18, the white supremacist group implicated in the deaths of several non-white Britons, was formed. [they also attacked and killed gay people and Irish Catholics] When the NME’s staff heard about what Morrissey was up to, they were aghast. An emergency summit meeting was held at King’s Reach Tower. “It was like a Cobra meeting for the government,” says Collins, “like being on a real newspaper” The following week’s NME featured a five-page examination of his lyrics and interviews, scouring all for clues to racism, as well as an impassioned piece by Fadele. The conclusion? While crediting Morrissey with the ability to employ irony, the NME staff had to conclude reluctantly that their hero was, at best, a misguided Little Englander. (Pat Long, excerpt of the NME Story, The Times, 9th March 2012)

Morrissey intends to remain undefinable. He’s a conversational escapologist, eluding any attempt to pin him down. Take his sexuality. It’s 20 years since Rolling Stone magazine described him as gay, much to his annoyance, and he still refuses to specify. Often he denies any kind of sex life at all. That’s his business, but it’s a long time to maintain ambiguity… He feels the press victimised him, too. On his new single, Irish Blood, English Heart, he sings of “standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or partial”. He’s referring to his notorious performance at Madness’s Madstock weekender, in 1992, when he wrapped himself in a Union Jack and was branded a racist by the music press, casting a long shadow over his solo career. Four years later Noel Gallagher emblazoned the flag on his guitar without censure, an irony that did not escape Morrissey. Could he not have simply explained his intentions? “Well, you know, I haven’t just arrived from the village,” he snaps. “I did think of all these things. I knew the people I was dealing with, and there was no point in reaching out to them. . . . I think it was a couple of journalists who couldn’t stand the sight of me and wanted to topple me. And they tried. And now they’re gone. And I’m sitting here in the Dorchester talking to you.” He smirks triumphantly. (Dorian Lynskey, the Guardian, 8 April 2004)

He is… driven by revenge. He wants the last word. “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, fattening his persecution complex. (Peter Paphides, the Guardian, 10 March 2012) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/mar/10/debate-morrissey-national-treasure

Morrissey is, if anything, an easy artist to leave behind: his politics seem so fundamentally antithetical to his original appeal that it’s hard to find a reason to continue supporting him, his famous laments now stinging with resentment and anger. Then again, as The Guardian point out, Morrissey’s anti-immigration views may be bolder than before but can be traced across his career, having spoken out against a “black pop conspiracy” against The Smiths during the band’s last years, and flirting with nationalist imagery and lyrics in the ’90s. (Jared Richards, Junkee, 8 November 2019)

Although Morrissey only spoke out explicitly about his reprehensible views in the two thousands, he had been courting the attention of racists since the early ’90s… From 1992 onwards, the performer emerged onstage draped in the Union Jack; around the same time, he welcomed the “skinheads” that had become part of his fanbase. (Joseph Earp, Junkee, 20 April 2021)

Side Note 3: Some Irishness and Catholicism

The singer Morrissey grew up in the Stretford area of Manchester. His mother was a librarian. (‘I was born in Manchester Central Library,’ he later said. ‘The crime section.’) His father is the usual mystery: he liked football and appears not to have been close to his football-ignoring son. He got divorced from Morrissey’s mother when the singer was 17 and was later rumoured to ring radio stations insisting on his estranged son’s Irishness.

Andrew O’Hagan, London Review of Books, 4 March 2004

cartoon with a joke about the Irish being lower than monkeys. Life Magazine, 11 May 1893

Here is a second-generation Irishman, and sometime Dublin resident, who has infamously flirted with right-wing British nationalism…  For an Irish audience, perhaps, the most interesting thing about Morrissey has been his willingness to wrap himself in the Union Jack in a fashion that has left him open to the accusations of associating with Britain’s Far Right… It strikes us as strange that an artist whose Irishness bleeds through in so many ways — his tireless cheerleading of bands from the old country, his love of Oscar Wilde, his stint in Dublin — should be connected with extreme British nationalism. It is in the context of his Irishness that Morrissey’s worship and championing of Oscar Wilde makes particular sense, suggests Campbell. “Wilde is interesting and not only because of his sexuality, which I think Morrissey obviously identified with,” he says. “Wilde is situated between Ireland and England. There are lots of English people who aren’t necessarily aware of Wilde’s Irishness. (Ed Power, Irish Independent, 29 July 2011)

A lot of Morrissey’s problems come from his indirectness of speech – which may have its roots in his Irishness.

the “post-colonial personality” revolves around various types of constriction, which are in response to domination by the colonizer. Constriction takes the form of social and personal withdrawal. The former embraces “elaboration of secret worlds, superficial compliance, indirect communication and lack of self-revelation” (Moane 1994: 259), generating behaviours such as “passive aggression, evasiveness, understatement, backbiting and avoidance of competition or self exhibition” (Moane 1994: 259). Indirectness, Kenny (1985: 73) asserts, is a “survival technique which had a strong survival value in the face of oppression where it was important to learn to be evasive, to develop a mental dexterity and a sharpness of intellect which answered a question with a question, and was effective in deceit and manipulation”. Linked with this is a tendency to find it difficult to “be confronting of others”, even if the complaint is justified. This results in a tendency to complain to one another about a third party rather than directly confronting the third party (Martin, Gillian. “Indirectness in Irish-English business negotiation: A legacy of colonialism?”. The Pragmatics of Irish English, edited by Anne Barron and Klaus P. Schneider, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011, pp. 235-268. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110898934.235 )

Englishness is all too often a codeword for home counties. (Sukhdev Sandhu, the Guardian, 10 March 2012)

The English philosopher John Locke is seen, not just by Anglosphere advocates, as a founder of liberalism and of notions of tolerance. He was also a shareholder in the Royal African Company, which supplied African slaves to the English colonies. His Two Treatises on Government argued that “all men by nature are equal” while also making a case for the legitimacy of slavery. Locke’s view that Catholics should be denied rights shaped English law for two centuries. (Kenan Malik, the Guardian, 26 September 2021) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/25/the-anglosphere-is-just-a-cover-for-the-old-idea-of-white-superiority

Irish butt of English racism for more than eight centuries (the Independent, 20 March 1996)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/irish-butt-of-english-racism-for-more-than-eight-centuries-1342976.html

The first is the staggering racism involved in invoking the drunken Irish stereotype on any pretext. Secondly, the DUP’s evangelical bent means many party big-wigs are entirely teetotal. Furthermore, even those DUP diehards who don’t ascribe to abstinence would sooner drink holy water than Guinness. Despite its solid Protestant, unionist heritage, it is synonymous with Dublin, and therefore not a big hit with the east Belfast set. (Seamas O’Reilly, the Irish Times, 11 June 2017) https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/apes-psychos-alcos-how-british-cartoonists-depict-the-irish-1.3149409

Anti-Irish behavior was a part of British life from the Middle Ages and it was helpful to have a stereotype to justify it. The mid-Victorian years – between the Famine and the emergence of the Home Rule movement – witnessed by far the most intense examples. (Padraig Colman, Irish Central, 11 April 2022) https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/the-origins-of-anti-irish-jokes-and-how-they-impacted-irish-worldwide.amp

* Two news stories might have contributed to the NME’s sensationalist stance. In December 2006, ENB ballerina, Simone Clarke, was outed as a member of the BNP. And In January 2007, Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty, was bullied on reality TV show, Big Brother (UK).

Clarke attracted a high-profile supporter to the performance in the shape of Richard Barnbrook, BNP councillor for Barking and Dagenham. “I don’t normally go to the ballet but I’m going to support Simone Clarke. I’m supporting her freedom of expression.”… Mr Barnbrook claimed to have no objection to Clarke’s relationship with Cuban-Chinese partner Yat-Sen Chang. “He works, he pays his taxes, he pays his dues, he has as much right to be here as anyone else,” he said. However, he hoped the couple would not have children.”I’m not opposed to mixed marriages but their children are washing out the identity of this country’s indigenous people,” he explained, quickly adding: “That’s my view, it’s not the party’s view.” (Press Association, the Guardian, 12 January 2007)
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2007/jan/12/thefarright.dance

I was fuming watching Dispatches about the preachers of hate that New Labour have allowed to infest some mosques in this country and who seem to be free to spread their hatred and religious intolerance among young British Muslims. I am not saying all Muslims are fanatics, but clearly there are some who must now be regarded as the real enemy within. However, rather than condemning these religious, fascist nutters and calling for the Government to boot them out, the usual suspects on the Left have been busy getting their knickers in a twist about ONE ballerina, Simone Clarke, who’s joined the BNP. (Jon Gaunt, the Sun, 16 January 2007)
https://www.islamophobiawatch.co.uk/hands-off-bnp-ballerina-gaunt-demands/

I guess the other thing Barnbrook demonstrates is how close artistic subcultures, including queer subcultures, have come to fascism over the years. If you want to play six degrees of separation from Jarman to Griffin, he’s probably the winning move but hardly the only one. You could go via Psychic TV to Coil to Current 93 to Tony Wakeford, who used to be in the Front. Or via Marc Almond, who was apparently initiated into the Church of Satan by Boyd Rice, who also worked with Current 93. Or straight from Psychic TV to Nicky Crane, who appears in their ‘Unclean’ video. Or use Stevo Pearce, whose brother ran the Front alongside Griffin in the ’80s. Or Richard Moult, or … well, you get the picture. (Max Schaefer, 3am Magazine, 26 July 2010) https://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/children-of-the-sun-max-schaefer/

The controversy over alleged racism towards Shilpa Shetty by fellow contestants of a British reality TV show escalated on Wednesday with Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Indian government weighing in… [Goan-origin Labour MP, Keith Vaz] pointedly asked Blair to remind broadcasters such as C4 of their duty not to “publish any such prejudices” to millions. (Rashimee Roshan Lall, Times of India, 17 January 2007)
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/shilpa-shetty-racism-row-escalates/articleshow/1257374.cms  https://www.theguardian.com/media/2007/may/24/broadcasting.channel4

**Tommy Robinson co-opting…

https://hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/state-of-hate-2022-v1_17-March-update.pdf

https://transsafety.network/posts/gcs-and-the-right/

Betrayed: Idiot Fans and Conned Collaborators

Pop music is nostalgic in its bones – it is part of Morrissey’s gift always to have known this – and fans who adhere to its magic are in love with something that was passing as soon as it was made. True fans live in exile: that is their nature, their glory and their tragedy.

Andrew O’Hagan, London Review of Books, 4 March 2004, https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v26/n05/andrew-o-hagan/cartwheels-over-broken-glass

From the very beginning of Morrissey’s career, homophobic journalists tried to get his fans and colleagues to ditch him.

In 1983, Garry Bushell, in his Jaws column, urged the BBC and Rough Trade to dump the Smiths because of their “sicko songs

The Beeb have finally rumbled the unpleasant truth behind ‘hip’ Manchester band, The Smiths… whose repulsive repertoire includes perverted paens to child moslesting… To the anger and embarrassment of many Sounds staffers, the band’s songs were first brought to the world’s attention, and in fact praised, by David McCullough, who described them as ‘the kind of ultra violent grime rock n roll needs’. Try telling that to the mother of the six year old Brighton boy recently mob raped by paedophiles… Rough Trade should ban Smiths’ records… Beeb bosses should keep this perverted filth off the air. (Jaws, Sounds, 10 September 1983)

Later, his homophobia was more explicit.

Garry Bushell is a member of Mensa — an organisation for people who declare themselves to have above-average IQs. In Mensa’s latest journal he says that homosexuality is a “sad, dead-end perversion” and that people working in TV are promoted “solely because of their sexual preference”. (Media Watch  Gay Times, February 1992)

Sometimes, journalists cloaked it in concern that Morrissey was exploiting his fans by ‘pretending’ to be vulnerable.

Ah, Morrissey. Clever, clever, shrewd Morrissey. Cunning, manipulative, exploitive, smug, irresponsible, Morrissey. This letter [Backlash letters page] makes me sicker than he could ever pretend to be. It’s so hopeless and passive and give up the ghost. Which means the orgy of duping, the career structure of the con-man rock star goes on. When twits like Mr S [a “fan”] top themselves, will you be there in the nick of time, Stephen [Morrissey] after a few quick changes of mannerisms in a handy phone booth? And if you’re so weak and timid, how come you’ve never had the slightest reluctance to show off? (Chris Roberts, Melody Maker, 26 March 1988)

Sometimes it was pure abuse:

Your hero [Morrissey] is in the twilight of his creativity… The public can see right through Old Flowery Twat. (Dele Fadele, NME, 19 May 1990)

In 1990, Steve Sutherland, decided that Morrissey was a threat to children because he looked gay in the International Playboys video.

The faint hint of homoeroticism around “The Last of the International Playboys”… opens a whole different can of worms. Is the tee shirt thing a sick joke – the celebrated celibate getting his kicks sticking to the sweaty skin of every boy and girl in the hall? From “Playboy”, with Mozzer like a stripper constantly tugging at his neckline and threatening to expose a nipple… [to] barely able to sing “Sister I’m a Poet” for the boys invading the stage and embracing him… (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 26 May 1990)

video, The Last of the International Playboys, 1990

In the next edition, fans were encouraged to throw darts at the homoerotic nipple.

I’m talking about Morrissey fans… You’d scarcely credit there being any left in the early nineties, especially, when thank the Lord, you can be inoculated against everything… anyone who is still devoted to a camp, ageing parody of a would-be icon like Morrissey, deserves nothing more than a kick in the pants. These people are sick in the head… We’ve set up a poster of Morrissey and we encourage them to throw darts at his face and his exposed nipples… We’re hoping to raise enough to hire a hitman, so that we can really get to the heart of the problem… (“Thora Hird“, Melody Maker, 2 June 1990)

Melody Maker, 2 June 1990

In 1992 – building on the fallout from Frank Owen’s racist interpretation of the ‘Hip Hop Wars’ that saw Morrissey accused of racism for trying to answer his loaded questions – the NME accused Morrissey of inciting a homophobic hate attack against himself, at a Finsbury Park gig, by touching a Union Jack (for less than 3 minutes). They split his career into The Smiths (acceptable asexual) and solo (toxic homoerotic). And tried to bury him.

They’re cringing in the corner when the guy in open-toe sandals and the Morrissey T-shirt comes rushing over. “THEY WERE UNF-INGBELIEVABLE! DID YOU HEAR ME? AFTER THE FIRST SONG, I SCREAMED BRETT WILL YOU MARRY ME?’ I’M SORRY BUT I DID!” He’s hysterical. “THEY TRAMPLED ALL OVER THE CORPSE OF MORRISSEY PUT THAT IN THE NME!” (Steve Sutherland, NME, 26 June 1993)

… excised from the hearts of many, horrified by the messy “flirtation” with racist imagery… the fact that this…man generates any interest at all this far down the line of lackluster albums and gallingly ambiguous behaviour is a mystery… Morrissey is an adoration junkie, plain and simple… his devoted audience has no such excuse… Times are hard, and yes, you’re going to need someone on your side. But at this point in the century, it really shouldn’t be this man. (Victoria Segal, the NME, November 1999)

… he has been tainted with accusations of nationalism and racism since he wrapped the Union Jack around himself at a Finsbury Park gig in 1992. Two weeks ago, the NME listed his crimes in anticipation of his British tour this week, and advised its readers to “brick” the singer offstage… Once the initial shock of Morrissey’s professed celibacy had abated, he was subject to… nasty innuendo and speculation about his sexuality… Despite all the evidence to the contrary the bittersweet eulogies to Handsome Devils and Sweet and Tender Hooligans, the iconoclastic images of male beauty that fill his record sleeves, the huge backdrops of skinhead boys [actually, girls] at his ill-fated gig in Finsbury Park in London, and quite apart from his slightly camp persona, we shouldn’t expect an imminent announcement that Morrissey is out and proud. (Sean Smith, the Big Issue, 15 November 1999) https://www.morrissey-solo.com/content/interview/big1199.htm

I would say ’97 felt bleak: racism was mentioned in nearly every Maladjusted review. The ’99 tour was accompanied by an NME article inviting readers to ‘brick’ morrissey offstage. Things didn’t get any warmer until 2002, when a new enthusiasm for The Smiths seemed to give Morrissey a bit of purchase. But even the 2004 NME interview was represented (by Steven Wells) as Morrissey grovelling for forgiveness. Things didn’t feel on an even keel until 2006. And we all know that lasted mere days. (“Hovis Lesley“, Morrissey Solo, 13 October 2021)

… he is a more intimidating presence than expected – unusually tall for a rock star, and thicker-set, not the droopy ironist you hear singing those droll and bitchy songs in a roughed-up Noel Coward-like voice… like an old-school East End villain… a soft but emphatic Mancunian brogue… characteristic contrariness… widely presumed to be gay… inexplicably popular with Mexicans. (Robert Sandall, the Times, 9 May 2004)

After a brief respite; in 2007, Tim Jonze, rehashed the 1992 homophobic hit piece, using mild remarks about immigration as the pretext. When Jonze joined the Guardian in 2010, he used its clout, credibility and connections to chip away at the fanbase, and slander Morrissey within the music industry.

Morrissey deserved to be marginalised:

If Morrissey can’t make a living out of playing to an audience as large and vociferous as the foam-flecked fundamentalists who follow him, there can be little hope for anyone else. But in some respects Morrissey is the author of his own marginalisation… Meanwhile the public persona that used to provoke and entertain – “Reggae is vile”, wishing unsanctioned biographer Johnny Rogan death in a car crash, “Cook Bernard Matthews” – became predictable, bitter and knee jerk. Likening Anders Breivik’s massacre at Utøya to a day at KFC, describing the Chinese as a sub-species, and blaming the royal family for the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha all tried the patience of any but the most committed Morrissey sycophants. (Andrew Harrison, the Guardian, 22 July 2013) https://www.theguardian.com/music/shortcuts/2013/jul/22/morrissey-light-finally-gone-out?CMP=gu_com

He’s only worth ‘perverse lolz‘:

Morrissey, aloof as a queen, smug as a cat… As far as Morrissey concerts go, the one immortalised in his latest film Morrissey: Live isn’t the best. It saddens me to say it, but my love affair with Mozza is well and truly over… The low-point of the movie shows Morrissey handing the microphone to a selection of front-row fans who compete to give the best impressions of lobotomy patients… To hear him sing “For once in my life, let me get what I want” after several fans have done everything short of offering themselves up to him for sacrifice is ungrateful at best, disingenuous at worst. Ever decreasing circles of co-dependency with the ‘fans’ whilst the wider, more critical Audience either left long ago or now only go, like me, for the perverse lulz. (Ryan Gilbey, the New Statesman, 20 August 2013)

Here, Morrissey enters quasi-erotic raptures over the bad-lad fans, and tough-girl followers who constitute his final, uncritical, fanbase. (Andrew Harrison, the New Statesman, 14 November 2013)

Twitter, 2 June 2017

The heterosexual one has to save the Smiths:

So 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, October 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/music/commentisfree/2017/oct/03/morrissey-fans-are-about-to-give-up-on-him-johnny-marr-please-stage-an-intervention?CMP=twt_gu

He’s an animal:

Morrissey is a boring old jackass. In his old age, the king of the outcasts has become just like your weird racist Fox News-loving uncle… He cancels so much that many fans wonder if he has some kind of serious illness or mental disorder that would explain his erratic behavior. When he does manage to make it to the stage… straight white men openly weep and fling themselves at him… I wonder what Morrissey’s conservative friends think about that. I wonder what Morrissey thinks of that… My brain won’t fully allow me to disconnect his sickening quotes from the music… So if he doesn’t want to lose even more fans to their consciences, he’ll do what he should’ve done many years ago: Shut his stupid face. (Jamie Lees, Riverside Times, 22 November 2017)

He’s a monster:

… his allegiances can no longer be assumed to lie with the marginalised. Perhaps they never could, and the real shock is not one of Morrissey’s betrayal but of our own (my own) self-deception… One of us has to grow up, I suppose, but that still doesn’t mean I know what to do about monsters either. (Ben Brooker, Overland Review, November 2017)

He must be stopped:

He knows his diehards will continue to buy his records and sell out his shows, so he gleefully goes on — sorry, Morrissey has never done anything gleefully. He stodgily goes on, sowing discord and making deliberately inflammatory statements. (Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald, December 2017)

In 2018, self-described “former friend”, Dave Haslam, organised a party to protest against Morrissey’s supposed racism – getting positive coverage in the Guardian.

Twitter, 21 June 2018

How horribly wrong we were. From the mid-1980s onwards, his utterances have been consistently rabid…  It’s always hard to admit you fell for the wrong fella, that his poetry blinded you to his prejudices, that you were well and truly suckered. And that’s what we’re having to do now… For so long we Morrissey fans gave him the benefit of the doubt – surely a man is entitled to not like reggae and soul music, we’d squirm. Even now, we like to believe it is simply Morrissey who has changed. And that is true to an extent. But the warning signs were always there. (Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, June 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/29/protest-party-riposte-poisonous-parody-morrissey-smiths-tommy-robinson

And because Morrissey was asked about Kevin Spacey, and didn’t think the story he heard in 2017 sounded true, and because Morrissey is widely believed to be gay, Haslam would go on to insinuate that Morrissey is a paedophile –

Twitter, 12 March 2020

Stewart Lee would write that he held Morrissey to ‘different standards‘ out of ‘sentiment’ – the other artist that he mentions, just happens to be heterosexual.

I’ve got vintage psychedelic vinyl by actual murderers, and books of poetry by antisemites and paedophiles, who are hard to write out of literary history. And the increasingly reactionary comments made by Mark E Smith in his latter years will not tempt me to part with even the most unnecessary Fall compilation. But somehow, illogically and sentimentally, I held Morrissey to different standards… Suddenly, I just didn’t want Morrissey in my home any more. And I couldn’t imagine any circumstances under which I would ever listen to him again. (Stewart Lee, The Observer, July 2018)

The Guardian tried to contact everyone Morrissey worked with on California Son – ripping quotes out of context, failing to mention that he’d clearly stated that he was against fascism and racism and believed For Britain had been smeared as right-wing (probably based on his own experience of being smeared as right-wing). Only one person talked to them, but they used a misleading headline: ‘I feel like I’ve been had: Morrissey’s collaborator’s respond to his politics’ (Daniel Dylan Wray, The Guardian, 1 March 2019) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/mar/01/morrissey-collaborators-respond-to-his-politics

Twitter, 10 January 2020

Twitter, 15 May 2022

Tim Jonze would write that fans felt betrayed – repeating misquotations, using bigoted framing and guilt by association, bringing up Finsbury Park as the keystone, and splitting his career into the now traditional good Smiths (asexual), and bad solo (homoerotic).

To see Morrissey embrace the far right so openly was shocking. But was it surprising? Ever since the early 90s, he has flirted with the far right and fascist imagery – wrapping himself up in the union jack, writing a song called The National Front Disco, making inflammatory comments about immigration… I have to admit, not even a date in the high court, nor accusations of having a “schoolgirl giggle” have put me off listening to the Smiths… although his solo stuff feels too toxic for me to go near… (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 30 May 2019)

David Stubbs – who wrote a homophobic ‘satire’ about Morrissey in the Quietus – called him the ‘stuff of disease‘:

David Stubbs, the Quietus URL, July 2019

Sadly, he still has an ultra-loyal phalanx of fans, for whom the word “thickness” certainly does not apply to their skins, who insist that the “real bigots” are Morrissey’s critics demonstrating their “narrow-mindedness”. Like their idol, they view of all of this as random persecution, in which they take a simple, indignant pleasure… Many profess to have no interest in his political views, regarding him solely as a musical content provider, a beat maker, a purveyor of vocals. This is bollocks, of course; they’re clearly hugely invested in him. In any case, if you’re capable of blithely setting aside his views, then there’s something badly missing in you. 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, along with the likes of Farage, Waters and Robinson, 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. ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More’, isn’t funny any more. He’s not rarified; far too many people think and feel the way he does. And they’re making less and less of a secret of it. It’s frightening. And so, it’s come to this; with apologies to The Specials, if you have a Morrissey-loving friend, now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end. (David Stubbs, the Quietus, July 2019)

He’s never supported Nigel Farage – but a couple of quotes have been the excuse for relentless guilt by association – Eamonn Forde, Twitter, 13 May 2014; David Stubbs, the Quietus, 4 July 2019

The LA Times trusted The Guardian’s misleading coverage and amplified it: Morrissey is anti-immigrant and backs a white nationalist political party. Why don’t fans care? (Randall Roberts, LA Times, 24 October 2019) https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2019-10-24/morrissey-anti-immigrant-white-nationalist-hollywood-bowl

Morrissey tried to push back – but by this time his mother was dying, and his own mental and physical health had taken a severe hit:

Given the inexhaustible Hate Campaign executed against me by The Guardian and their followers, I am pleased with the UK chart position for “California son”. BUT WHO WILL GUARD US FROM THE GUARDIAN? No one, it seems. It is worth noting that their chief antagonist in this Hate Campaign is someone I took to court some years ago for writing lies about me. He lost his court battle then, and now he’s seeking his personal revenge by using The Guardian, who have been harassing everyone and anyone connected with my music imploring them to say something terrible about me for print… It is the voice of all that is wrong and sad about modern Britain. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 31 May 2019)

Billy Bragg – who uses LGBT+ activism to promote his career, but who joined in with the NME’s homophobia in 1992 – also kept attacking him:

I wish there was a way back for him. As a Smith’s fan and as an anti-racist activist, I wish. I worry that he may have burned too many bridges, though. I think he’s decided that he wants to betray everything he ever said in the Smiths, and he’s broken the hearts of a lot of people… I’ll listen to The Smiths, but I was never into [his solo stuff] anyway.” (Billy Bragg, NME, February, 2020)

Tony Fletcher, who doesn’t seem to know anything about the black writers who have inspired Morrissey’s writing – James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou – urged people read about the blackness in the music of the Smiths (all white, all straight, apart from “the bad one“) in his Smiths book – but shun Morrissey’s current work – made with his Latino bandmates, Jessie Tobias, Mando Lopez and Gustavo Manzur, and including his (then) recent duet with Thelma Houston:

‘The Smiths? There’s more blackness in the music than you might initially perceive. Read about it. Search it out. And then boycott Morrissey’s music because he’s turned into your horrible racist grandfather. Seriously, stop apologising for the guy and stop listening to his recent music. He’s an embarrassment. (Tony Fletcher, his blog, 2020)

Similarly the Quietus called Morrissey’s mostly Mexican band, ‘white-ish’ and their Latino sound, ‘stinking.. trumpets of Old Albion’ and ‘crappy Britain‘.


My girlfriend however, well she’s a huge fan. A quick Google search later and there’s some sputtering…. how could the man who saved the lonely girl from Hull have become this… From its cheap-sounding production to the trebly, shallow musicianship (read: white-ish), to the basic structuring and the crowd samples that sound like fiendish Leave activists at Westminster, to the aesthetically stinking addition of those medieval trumpets of old Albion, this is the crappy Britain of old he conjures. (John Calvert, The Quietus, March 2020)


My guitarist Jesse, who’s been with me for 10 years, is Mexican. One night in Los Angeles the police approached us, spoke reasonably civilly to me, and then said to him, ‘which restaurant do you work at?’ I think that sums it up! One of the greatest guitarists of the modern age, but because his skin is brown, it’s assumed he washes dishes for a living.’ (Morrissey, Hot Press, 20th August 2014)

Because of the press, another ex-fan thinks that Morrissey – an Irish Catholic, ‘humasexual’, immigrant – is a homophobic English ethno-nationalist.

Only recently did I learn that shirtlifter was once a British slur for gay men; the phrase “Shoplifters of the World Unite” may be Morrissey’s play on words… Morrissey lamented the impact of immigration on his homeland: “England is a memory now,” he said… He spoke of how the Chinese could be a “subspecies,” … revisiting his lyrics, I began to find them more vituperative, less empathetic than I’d recalled. A song’s narrator would be woefully misunderstood, but that was because he was surrounded by the dim-witted and distinctly othered: women buck-toothed and monstrous; gay pederasts; Bengalis who don’t belong… I’m not sure there’s a place for (mixed-race, faggoty) me in that mythical past. (Jeremy Atherton Lin, the Yale Review, Spring 2021)

And the NME continues to exclude Morrissey from his own work – refusing to name him when praising the Smiths.

Echoes of the Manchester greats appear throughout ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ – namely those of The Smiths. Shimmering, Johnny Marr-style guitars appear liberally on the likes of ‘Born Wild’, a track that also employs haunting ‘Strangeways Here We Come’-era vocal lines as Ogden delivers some of his best, most revealing lyricism to date… (Rhys Buchanan, NME, 8th April 2022)

Naming him to underline that no one decent should ever want to be associated with him.

Considering that the ever-outspoken Morrissey has become pop’s persona non grata, while Marr has unwaveringly upheld the enduring cool of indie’s nice guy, surely most bands would want the praise to come the other way around? (Rhys Buchanan, NME, 8th April 2022)
https://www.nme.com/big-reads/blossoms-cover-interview-2022-ribbon-around-the-bomb-3200842


Black Music Conspiracy

In July 1986, in an interview on Canadian radio, Morrissey explained that he thought the Smiths were being excluded by the broadcasting establishment, and that the line ‘hang the DJ’, in the song, ‘Panic’, was about UK radio DJs.

I notice, and I’m sure it’s not an accident, that as the times that we live in become more serious and more critical, popular music, which is such a ferociously fierce and strong art form, goes further and further away from reality. And I almost feel, that it’s almost a political thing. That is, there’s a whitewash occuring, that the nonsensical and useless bland artists are being pushed forward and we’re being force fed. And any groups who dare to confront very real issues, in a very realistic way, are silenced, are gagged. So this is something that we constantly have to fight against. I mean, the Smiths, in England have had 10 consecutive hit singles, and we’ve had huge LPs, and yet, we still are never played on national daytime radio. They will not play the Smiths. I mean, even this week, today, we were the highest new entry in the top 100 with a new single called, Panic, came in at number 18, and they won’t play it. So what can you do? You have to suspect that there’s some, um, fierce political, um, canoodlings occurring… Hang the DJ is a recurring line in the new single, Panic, and once again, as ever, we’re finding problems. I can’t think why, but, um, as I say, this single, Panic, has entered really highly and they won’t play it, because of this line, ‘hang the DJ’. They say it’s offensive. I can’t really imagine why, because when we sing ‘hang the DJ’ live people are ecstatic. This is what they want, to get rid of all these old, boring, middle-aged non-entities, these mediocre people, who are all really controlling the airwaves, and, uh, 50% of the daytime disc jockeys in England are absolutely detested by the people in England. They hate them, and yet here they are controlling our, um, our earlobes, practically. So I’m all for hanging certain DJs. So, watch out. (Morrissey, CHRW London Canada, 29 July 1986)

Less than 2 months later, in September 1986, he was branded a racist for an interview in the Melody Maker, in which the interviewer, Frank Owen, framed his questions using a racist theory that music was divided into warring factions: Indie, which was ‘intelligent’, and made by white people. And Black Pop, which was ‘crude showbiz’, and associated with black people. He also cheerfully opined that ‘Panic’ was about hanging Black DJs. https://illnessasart.com/2020/03/03/melody-maker-27-september-1986/

representing African-Americans as “shuffling and drawling, cracking and dancing, wisecracking and high stepping” buffoons… https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/links/essays/vcu.htm

https://www.radiox.co.uk/artists/the-smiths/smiths-panic-chernobyl-distaster-inspiration-meaning/

It’s not clear if Morrissey understood the theory, or was taking it seriously, and most of the interview was puriently homophobic, and angled to push him into coming out as gay, which he later found distressing.

As written, it’s also not clear, what was asked or what order. It appears to start with, ‘so, is the music of The Smiths and their ilk racist, as Green claims?’ (Green Gartside was the lead singer of Scritti Politti.)

Morrissey replied:

“Reggae, for example, is to me the most racist music in the entire world. It’s an absolute total glorification of black supremacy… There is a line when defence of one’s race becomes an attack on another race and, because of black history and oppression, we realise quite clearly that there has to be a very strong defence. But I think it becomes very extreme sometimes. But, ultimately, I don’t have very cast iron opinions on black music other than black modern music which I detest. I detest Stevie Wonder. I think Diana Ross is awful. I hate all those records in the Top 40 – Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston. I think they’re vile in the extreme. In essence this music doesn’t say anything whatsoever.”

‘Vile’ is hyperbole and Morrissey was airily scathing about nearly everything.

Frank countered that Black music is more subtle because it works on the body via the dancefloor. Morrissey was unconvinced.

“I don’t think there’s any time anymore to be subtle about anything, you have to get straight to the point. Obviously to get on Top Of The Pops these days, one has to be, by law, black. I think something political has occurred among Michael Hurl and his friends and there has been a hefty pushing of all these black artists and all this discofied nonsense into the Top 40. I think, as a result, that very aware younger groups that speak for now are being gagged.”

‘By law’ is a joke. He’d previously used it about himself.

Well, I wouldn’t stand on a table and shout, ‘I’m a feminist’ or put a red stamp across my forehead, but if one tends towards prevalent feminist views, by law, you immediately become one. Likewise, if you have great sympathy with gay culture you are immediately a transsexual. I did one interview where the gay issue was skirted over in three seconds and when the interview emerged in print, there I was emblazoned across the headlines as this great voice of the gay movement, as if I couldn’t possibly talk about anything else. I find that extremely harmful and I simply don’t trust anyone anymore. (Morrissey, The Face, July 1984)

And Top of The Pops producer Michael Hurl, is not black.

Michael Hurl, on the left.

It’s Frank who sums it up as a conspiracy by black artists to keep white people out of the charts, ‘You seem to be saying that you believe that there is some sort of black pop conspiracy being organised to keep white indie groups down.’

Morrissey might be trying to fold in Frank’s words, but his suspicion hasn’t changed since the Canadian interview – he still thinks escapist music is promoted by the (straight, white, male) broadcasting establishment:

“Yes, I really do. The charts have been constructed quite clearly as an absolute form of escapism rather than anything anyone can gain any knowledge by. I find that very disheartening because it wasn’t always that way. Isn’t it curious that practically none of these records reflect life as we live it? Isn’t it curious that 93 and a half percent of these records reflect life as it isn’t lived? That foxes me! If you compare the exposure that records by the likes of Janet Jackson and the stream of other anonymous Jacksons get to the level of daily airplay that The Smiths receive – The Smiths have had at least 10 consecutive chart hits and we still can’t get on Radio 1′s A list. Is that not a conspiracy? The last LP ended up at number two and we were still told by radio that nobody wanted to listen to The Smiths in the daytime. Is that not a conspiracy? I do get the scent of a conspiracy. And, anyway, the entire syndrome has one tune and surely that’s enough to condemn the entire thing.”

It wasn’t an outlandish idea:

I remember John Peel saying he believed that if they played the music he played on mainstream radio, people would like it. And I remember thinking, ‘Stupid twat.’ But he was kind of right, if you take a jerky, quirky group like the Arctic Monkeys – that’s what happened. (Johnny Cigarettes, Record Collector, 29 March 2018) https://recordcollectormag.com/articles/bit-chinstroking

“It’s not just us”, says William. “It’s also people like New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths. The Smiths have got a number two LP but you never hear The Smiths on the radio. Steve Wright said ‘people don’t want to listen to The Smiths in the afternoon’. That’s absolutely pathetic! How does he know? “The BBC is supposed to be a public company and we’re all supposed to have a share in it but it’s obviously a dictatorship and those people shouldn’t have that power”. (Jesus and Mary Chain, Smash Hits, July 1986)

Frank asks him if he finds Black music macho (tapping into a racist and a homophobic trope; black men as hyper virile, gay men as effete). Morrissey says it isn’t his world, and adds:

I don’t want to feel in the dock because there are some things I dislike. Having said that, my favourite record of all time is “Third Finger, Left Hand” by Martha and the Vandellas which can lift me from the most doom-laden depression.

Frank accuses him of being a nostalgic luddite (later the NME will accuse him of not wanting black people to prosper in the present, as if 1960s music wasn’t still being played). Morrissey jokes:

‘Hi-tech can’t be liberating. It’ll kill us all. You’ll be strangulated by the cords of your compact disc.’

Frank asks him about violence in Manchester and the lyrics of Never Had No One Ever. Morrissey explains they’re about feeling alienated because he’s Irish:

“It was the frustration that I felt at the age of 20 when I still didn’t feel easy walking around the streets on which I’d been born, where all my family had lived – they’re originally from Ireland but had been here since the Fifties. 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.”

Despite this – the interview was the basis for accusations that ‘Bengali In Platforms’, was telling people from South Asia that they don’t belong in the UK. And it gave the NME its excuse for the 1992 homophobic hit piece.

The Frank Owen interview ends with Morrissey reminiscing about his time on the gay scene:

“If the Perry’s didn’t get you, then the beer monsters were waiting around the corner. I still remember studying the football results to see if City or United had lost, in order to judge the level of violence to be expected in the city centre that night. I can remember the worst night of my life with a friend of mine, James Maker, who is the lead singer in Raymonde now. We were heading for Devilles (a gay club). We began at the Thompson’s Arms (a gay pub), we left and walked around the corner where there was a car park, just past Chorlton Street Bus Station. Walking through the car park, I turned around and, suddenly, there was a gang of 30 beer monsters all in their late twenties, all creeping around us… The gay scene in Manchester was always atrocious. Do you remember Bernard’s Bar, now Stuffed Olives? If one wanted peace and to sit without being called a parade of names then that was the only hope… 1975 was the worst year in social history. I blame ‘Young Americans’ entirely. I hated that period – Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes, Limmy and Family Cooking. So when punk came along, I breathed a sigh of relief. I met people. I’d never done that before… I never liked The Ranch. I have a very early memory of it and it was very, very heavy. I never liked Dale Street. There was something about that area of Manchester that was too dangerous.”

Frank editorialised with some homophobic language:

‘You big jessy, you big girl’s blouse, Morrissey. But he’s right. It was dangerous and, with the increased media visibility of punk, the violence got worse. You see, punks were not only faggots, they were uppity faggots as well‘.

And an insinuation about cottaging that Morrissey found upsetting:

Because of the public-toilet disparagement, there are of course legal grounds to take action against Melody Maker, but Rough Trade are now making useful inroads with the press because of the Smiths, and they don’t want to cause a fuss, and I am still too green around the gills to ignore their reluctance. I could attempt to tackle Melody Maker myself, but without the label behind me, I am at sea. (Morrissey, Autobiography, 2013)

When it was published, Morrissey was denounced as a racist, then defended, in letters pages and comment pieces. Johnny Marr was angry:

next time we come across that creep, he’s plastered. We’re not in the habit of issuing personal threats, but that was such a vicious slur-job that we’ll kick the shit out of him. Violence is disgusting but racism’s worse and we don’t deal with it.” (NMW, February 1987)

No one noticed, or was outraged, by Frank Owen’s racist framing or the homophobia.

Tony Fletcher in The Smiths, A Light That Never Goes Out (2012) condemned Morrissey for his ‘no sex’ agenda:

[Frank Owen] dared suggest in writing that in years to come, Morrissey would be into “fisting and water sports”… “Morrissey is the biggest closet gay queen on the planet and he felt that I was trying to ‘out’ him by bringing this up…” If he wanted to play coy, that was his prerogative, although with Thatcherite policies coming down increasingly hard on homosexuality, many other artists had decided to “come out” in response. As Len Brown wrote, “It was a time when everyone – artists and journalists – seemed to be asking the question (politically and sexually) Whose Side Are You On?” To which Morrissey insisted on being individual … a card-carrying member of nothing but his own cult of personality’.

He took out Morrissey’s meandering qualifications to made it sound as if Panic was about a detestation of black modern music so strong that he couldn’t stop himself from harping on:

Not content to leave it there, Morrissey went on to express how much he detested the “black modern music” of Motown descendants Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, and Diana Ross, stating, per the lyrics to “Panic,” that “in essence this music doesn’t say anything whatsoever.” 

He ascribes Frank’s comments about readers to ‘Morrissey’s thinking’, accepts the racist assumption that Black music is about the body, pretends that British youth didn’t dance before Rave, took ‘by law’ literally and thinks it’s ridiculous to say that escapist music gets more airplay than morose Indie music.

Owen claimed to understand this thinking. “When NME and Melody Maker started putting black acts on the cover,” he recalled, “there was a huge backlash to it. I used to get letters all the time. And it wasn’t explicitly ‘We don’t want blacks on the cover,’ it was more like ‘This is our scene and what do blacks have to do with it?’ ” And so, in his Melody Maker feature, as a response to Morrissey’s own response, Owen tried to answer that question: “What it says can’t necessarily be verbalised easily,” he wrote. “It doesn’t seek to change the world like rock music by speaking grand truths about politics, sex and the human condition. It works at a much more subtle level—at the level of the body and the shared abandon of the dancefloor. It won’t change the world, but it’s been said it may well change the way you walk through the world.” Within a year or two, as acid house exploded (the kindling lit on the Haçienda dance floor) and the rave movement emerged in its wake, a large section of British youth would come to share Owen’s sentiment, the Smiths’ Johnny Marr and New Order’s Bernard Sumner among them. In the summer of 1986, though, Morrissey was still the voice of his generation, which was perhaps why he then dared issue the most ludicrous comment yet of a continually outspoken career: “Obviously to get on Top of the Pops these days, one has to be, by law, black,” which he followed up with an equally ridiculous claim of personal persecution.

He also thought it was suspect that Morrissey liked a sexist song that was released when he was seven years old.

Even the singer’s attempt to restore proceedings mid-interview sounded suspect. “My favourite record of all time is ‘Third Finger, Left Hand’ by Martha and the Vandellas,” he said, citing a (black) Motown single from 1966, “which can lift me from the most doom-laden depression.” And yet this was as stereotypically romantic, conventionally sexist, and thereby nonfeminist a song as had ever been written. It would have said nothing about Morrissey’s life when it came out, and said even less about his life and that of his fans twenty years later. He was in essence employing a double standard, based on what Owen correctly referred to as a “nostalgia … that afflicts the whole indie scene.”

And thought that Morrissey’s comments were a defence of ‘Panic’ rather than in response to Frank’s questions about Indie. While, Frank himself is still blind to the racist assumptions that shaped his division of pop into Black and Indie and thinks Morrissey caused the problem to ‘wind people up’.

As it turned out, Owen wasn’t particularly put out by Morrissey’s comments in defense of “Panic.” “I never thought Morrissey was a racist,” he said. “I always thought it was just a big put-on, that it was just a way to wind people up, the same way that punks wore swastikas.”

28 years later it was the material for a grimly racist and homophobic ‘satire’ by David Stubbs in the Quietus:

…an unspoken racism meant that it was hard for those whose skin was not disco-coloured to get booked on the programme. So, Norrissey hatched a plan. He and the band turned up at the BBC studios one Thursday evening in Afro wigs, their skins applied with burnt cork, minstrel-style. “Hi!” they said, jively, to the man at the door, waving their hands in the sort of way that makes some wonder if Britain is Britain any more. “The name of this here group of ours is The Blackfaces and we’re here to play our new single ‘Strut Your Superficial Stuff’.” Naturally, they were immediately allowed on the show… Then came the moment of revelation, as the “Blackfaces” stopped playing, and rubbed away the dark cork on their faces… this had been the only way a white English group could be smuggled onto Top Of The Pops in the 1980s. They had paved the way so that other white English groups might follow, without wigs or make-up. A black day of the sort they weren’t used to for disco musicians but a breakthrough for England! (David Stubbs, the Quietus, 6 January 2014) 

David’s confirmation bias is so strong that he insinuates Morrissey is a racist for comparing Depeche Mode unfavourably to Barry White, and compared him to Donald Trump for using the words ‘no justice’, in a review written to champion his best friend, Linder Sterling’s unsuccessful band, Ludus.

In June 2018 music journalist Pete Paphides, gutted the interview to claim that Morrissey had ‘always’ been repugnant.

And accused Morrissey of ‘trolling’ for using the Attack reggae label in 2004 – nearly 18 years after the Frank Owen interview, and 12 years after Morrissey was accused of racism for holding a Union Jack for less than 3 minutes in front of a crowd who heckled that he was a “poofy bastard“.

Having failed to see that Morrissey talked about his own experiences of being from an immigrant family, that Frank was mainly trying to get Morrissey to talk about his sexuality and that Morrissey had said that black people had a history of oppression, Pete claims to have always kept the door ajar in case Morrissey’s views about race and identity were more nuanced…

but he can’t listen to most of Morrissey’s work because of what he was and continues to be.

David Quantick thinks that what Morrissey was and continues to be, is scum. And dates it from the Frank Owen interview.

Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again?
The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
But honey pie, you’re not safe here
So you run down to the safety of the town
But there’s panic on the streets of Carlisle
Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
I wonder to myself Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music they constantly play On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down
Provincial towns you jog ’round Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ
Hang the DJ
….

Side Note: The manufactured and imposed division between Indie and Black music was dubbed the hip-hop wars and played out for most the 1980s and early 1990s.

Frank Owen was interested in hip-hop and house music, but couldn’t get any of the music press in England to cover it, ‘they’d say, “What do you want to write about all these grungy Negroes in there?”https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2013/05/frank-owen-interview

The hip hop wars was just something internal to NME, it really had little relevance to the scene itself… At NME you had a camp of diehard indie supporters on the staff, editors and writers who wanted to put The Go Betweens and The Shop Assistants on the cover. And there was a very vociferous, ideologically determined camp of “soul boys”—also editors and writers–who thought that only black music was valid, relevant, and progressive. They were very scornful of indie music and regarded it as retrogressive, even crypto-racist in so far as it didn’t engage with black culture. But to me the irony was that your indie fans, tending to be college educated, were more likely to have anti-racist, left-wing, progressive beliefs and attitudes than many of the white fans of black pop. It’s just that rap and R&B didn’t speak to them, it didn’t describe their lives. Being middle class, bookish, shy types, they didn’t like the overt sexuality, the materialism, and in rap’s case, the sexism… The indie faction at NME were more in touch with the magazine’s readership, but they didn’t have the strong ideological drive and discipline of the black music faction, so the latter were able to dominate the paper for a while. But eventually they were all ousted, probably I suspect because the owners of NME could see that pushing hip hop through front covers would alienate the readership and lose sales. At Melody Maker we just loved the fact that NME was tearing itself apart. (Mario Lopes, Publico, 11 July 2014) http://reynoldsretro.blogspot.com/2014/11/c86-and-all-that.html

Side Note 2: In 1990, as reported in the Melody Maker, a group of Black American DJs were told how to do ‘dance music’ by Tony Wilson and Keith Allen. Despite the DJs walking out in disgust, neither suffered any career consequences.

Derrick May has had enough: ‘Ma-a-a-n,’ he says, ‘let me tell ya something. Dance music has been fucked up… I have to sit back and see some bullshit Adamski shit… that’s bullshit. On the charts! Number F-ing One! Okay?’ Tony Wilson rises to the challenge: ‘I’m sure The Rolling Stones and The Beatles sounded pretty shitty to the real R&B people but without The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, you’d never have even known you had R&B in America.’ ‘Well I don’t know about that,’ says Derrick… ‘They say it’s not a dictatorship, but it is. We can’t do anything unless you tell us to as much as we try… We – and when I say we, I mean blacks – we all do something and you’ll come behind us and turn it around and add somebody singing to it or some sort of little funky-ass or weak-ass chord line or whatever and get some stupid record company that doesn’t know jack shit about shit to put £50,000 behind it and you got a fucking hit because you stuffed it down motherfuckers throats. So, this group, y’know, has tremendous success and I don’t know what to say, man. I’ve just been busting my ass, it comes from the heart y’know… we as black people have always had to deal with the fact that we’ve had to be better because, since the beginning of time, we’ve had to walk into a white person’s house and clean a white motherfucker’s ass, okay? So don’t tell me.’ This is too much for Keith Allen. He says: ‘Listen Derrick, I might have white skin but I’m black for fuck’s sake! Look at me Derrick – look at me – I’m black.’ Nathan McGough joins in… ‘The whole Ecstasy and House culture from 1988 was like year zero, Pol Pot. The same way as ’76 with the Pistols and anarchy, year zero…’ Derrick May responds… ‘Our DJs are technically better than yours.’ ‘Bullshit. Let’s talk about DJs, right?’ says Wilson… ‘Your Detroit DJs didn’t have one record that was made in the last fucking six months and they wouldn’t play one thing under 130 bpm. They’re all stick-in-the-muds and they should get themselves fucked.’ The insults are starting to fly thick and fast… Egged on by Derrick May, another guy gets up and says white folks think too much about it all while blacks just do it. From where I’m sitting, this sounds a tad close to the ol’ natural riddim argument. But May’s well into it. ‘Yeah,’ he shouts, ‘that’s also the reason why white people can’t play basketball.’ Keith Allen responds in kind; ‘Yeah, but that’s the reason why black Americans don’t ride horses. You’ve got to remember the reason that white guys don’t play basketball is the same reason black guys don’t ride horses.’ Marshall Jefferson gets up and walks out in disgust.  (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 4th August 1990) http://dewit.ca/archs/JD/New_York_Story.html

Islamophobe: Meat and the Manchester Bomb

On the 7th July 2005, 52 people in London were killed by Islamist terrorists. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33253598

Morrissey blamed Tony Blair, the UK’s Prime Minister, and George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America.

If not for Tony Blair’s self-interests, the people who were blown to pieces on London’s transport system that July morning would more than likely still be amongst the living. Although Bush and Blair collectively made the world a more dangerous place, neither of them, then or now, leads an unprotected life and neither is susceptible to the dangers… (Morrissey, Autobiography, Penguin, 2013)

And claimed, to have been investigated by the intelligence services in the UK and the USA becuase he had denounced the war in Iraq, and wished that Bush had died instead of ex-President Reagan.

The former lead singer of the Smiths tells British music paper NME that he believed he had been interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and British intelligence agents because he was deemed a threat for speaking his mind. “They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England,” NME quotes the 46-year-old singer as saying. “But it didn’t take them very long to realize that I’m not.” In June 2004, Morrissey came under fire for interrupting a Dublin concert with news that former U.S. president Ronald Reagan had died, adding that he wished Bush had died instead. Months later, Morrissey urged U.S. voters to get rid of Bush, calling him a terrorist and adding that he “single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet.” (Billboard, 26 February 2006) https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/59579/morrissey-claims-investigation-by-us-uk-intelligence/

In 2008, he wanted to tour Iran because he admired Arab pop star Kazem al-Sahir.

Heaven knows I’m Muslim now, Morrissey lines up Iran gig: Never mind the fundamentalists, here’s Morrissey. The rock singer is planning to play a concert in Iran as his contribution to the international healing process. The singer, whose songs include Bigmouth Strikes Again and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, is in talks with the Iranian government and the Foreign Office about staging a performance in Tehran later this year. (Maurice Chittenden, the Sunday Times, 3 February 2008) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/heaven-knows-im-muslim-now-morrissey-lines-up-iran-gig-pw809hlmjjw

The former Smiths frontman hopes to appear onstage with acclaimed Arabian pop singer Kazem Al Sahir, one of the star’s professed heroes, and is currently in talks with the Iranian government to play a gig there later this year. (Irish Examiner, 8 January 2008) https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-30343497.html

On the 7th January 2015, 12 people were killed by Islamists targeting the left-wing satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo, for blasphemy, and a Jewish supermarket, for Jewishness. Morrissey didn’t say anything. But later his Je Suis Morrissey t-shirts, circa 2004-09, were erroneously linked to the free speech debate that had been symbolised in the solidarity slogan Je suis Charlie. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30708237

Charlie Hebdo’s former offices are located in a liberal neighbourhood of Paris, where nobody disputes the necessity to protect freedom of expression. But critics insist that one can be in favour of free speech without kowtowing to the “Je suis Charlie” mantra. (Mehdi Chebil, France 24, 4 January 2018)

Sporting a “Je Suis Morrissey” t-shirt, he deems himself a bastion for free speech while calling for a ban on Eid celebrations in the UK. (Darya Rustamova, Mangal Media, 25 May 2019)

New York, 2007, Pieter M. van Hattem

On the 13th November 2015, 130 people were murdered, most of them in the Bataclan music venue, by Islamic State. The motivation of Islamic State seemed to be more about killing unbelievers than freedom fighting. Their vision of an Islamic Caliphate was Imperial, supremacist and genocidal. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34827497

In paying tribute to the victims at a gig on 14th November in Santiago, Morrissey reportedly said, “As you know, as you’ve heard, the war of religion is upon us, or the religion of war is upon us. And we say ‘no thank you, no, no, no, no, no, no, no’.” https://www.stourbridgenews.co.uk/leisure/showbiz/14033038.morrissey-pays-tribute-to-paris-massacre-victims-by-playing-im-throwing-my-arms-around-paris-in-front-of-a-french-flag/

But, he very quickly got involved in an unseemly row over re-releasing I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris, with his record company Harvest. https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/morrissey-universal-paris-tribute-single-6776961/

I couldn’t go through a Harvest Records situation again — they almost killed me, and probably regret that they didn’t. I find that if you are a genuine artist in 2016 you must look after yourself, but if you are trivial and fluffy then a label will hype you and help you and buy Paid Content space on online news pages to make you appear important. I paddle my own canoe. (Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 August 2016)

Fan made Twitter image @Stracy1675 posted on True To You, then posted on Morrissey Solo. David Joseph is the head of Harvest.

A year later, on the 12th June 2016, 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by Omar Mateen. In a call to the police just before the massacre, Mateen, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Morrissey was angry at Donald Trump, heterosexuality & guns. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36511778

Hate-rosexuality: although the gunman who massacred 49 people at an Orlando gay club is said to have been ‘repulsed’ by homosexuality, he nonetheless left behind a slew of self-adoring ‘selfies’; a handsome man gazing enchantedly at his own face. It is therefore acceptable for him to lovingly admire his own maleness, but it is not OK for other men to like other men. Does Islamic scripture say it is fitting for a man to sit alone taking adoring photographs of himself? I doubt it.
Meanwhile, Donald Thump, probably America’s next President, reacts to the Orlando massacre by explaining how, if the people within the club were themselves armed with guns, then there would have been fewer casualties. This, of course, is his way of avoiding any words of support to the Orlando gay community (it is their own fault for going into a nightclub without hand grenades). Donald Thump would therefore probably claim that the massacred children of Sandy Hook would still be alive today if only they’d had the common sense to carry sawn-off shotguns to school. The Thump response to Orlando is therefore anti-gay and pro-gun possession. Ann Coulter will be waving her baseball cap and cheering. It’s all going so well for America!
Unfortunately, CNN obliged the gunman once again with a flashing flood of publicity – which is all he ever wanted, and which will encourage the next shooter to prepare for international fame. Why show the gunman’s face? Nobody needs to see it. (Morrissey, True To You, June 2016)

In August that year, Morrissey was denounced as a racist for mentioning Nigel Farage, leader of hard right UK independence party UKIP in the same sentence as hard left, pro-Islam, Iranian and Russian state media employee, and politician George Galloway, and for complaining that London mayor Sadiq Khan eats Halal butchered beings (he had spoken in favour of halal meat) and talks too fast (Khan is a Londoner, with a London accent, Morrissey has never said anything that would relate his voice to his religion or ethnic heritage).

The BBC now do not give you news, but they give you their opinion, and therefore they give anyone a very hard time if that person does not suit the convenience and prejudices of the established elite. Therefore liberal educators such as George Galloway and Nigel Farage are loathed by the BBC because both men respect equal freedom for all people, and they are not remotely intimidated by the BBC. The Mayor was eventually elected on very few votes, and of course he eats Halal butchered beings, and talks so quickly that people can’t understand him … and that suits the British media perfectly. (Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 April 2016)

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/apr/29/george-galloway-interview-bradford-west

Chicken Cottage is a British product that is doing a fantastic amount in our country…over the last period Chicken Cottage has created 1,000 new jobs in our country, added £50m to the UK’s GDD and over the next five years will be creating 400 new jobs as well… And here’s the beautiful thing. This is a British product…selling Islamic products, selling halal products…that is niche and general but it’s gone mainstream… When Chicken Cottage started in 1994, the aim was to be as excellent, or as good as, the market leaders…now, the aim is to be the best in its own right, and now the market leaders are Chicken Cottage… long may you have a prosperous future! (Sadiq Khan, Chicken Cottage Award Ceremony, 22 May 2012)

It’s the emphatic inclusion of “halal” that adds a spicy hint of racism to Morrissey’s animal rights campaigning, doesn’t it? (Hadley Freeman, the Guardian, 4 August 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2016/aug/04/oh-god-morrissey-talks-about-galloway-farage-and-sadiq-khan

Nearly, everyone else gets to make spicy comments without being permanently branded a racist.

On the 22nd of May 2017, 22 people (many of them children) were killed at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-40010124

Morrissey had a statement about it posted on Facebook in which he blames the authorities – politicians, the Queen, Islamic State – Theresa May’s immigration policy and complained about inexact language.

Theresa May’s immigration policy was the Hostile Environment. He’d previously complained about George Bush’s immigration policy being too harsh, and immigration officials in Australia being rude. And would go on to accuse May of turning the UK into an international target. So it’s likely that he thought the Hostile Environment was antagonising people into becoming terrorists. And he’d previously explained that he believed inexact language meant governments intended to do nothing about a situation.

With all my heart I urge people to vote against George Bush. Jon Stewart would be ideal, but John Kerry is the logical and sane move. It does not need to be said yet again, but Bush has single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet. For non-Americans, the United States is suddenly not a very nice place to visit because US immigration officers – under the rules of Bush – now conduct themselves with all the charm and unanswerable indignation of Hitler’s SS. Please bring sanity and intelligence back to the United States. Don’t forget to vote. Vote for John Kerry and get rid of George Bush! (Morrissey, True to You, 28th? October 2004)

It doesn’t take much to be thrown into a cell at LAX! You will notice that the Immigration Officers are persistently ordering you to ‘stand there’, which is a test to see if you will bow to their orders… they can be as illegal as they wish. Incidentally, when I arrived in Sydney last year the officer at Passport Control did her best to insult me and to cause a scene when there was no need… They use the ISIS issue as an excuse to denigrate everyone, and they absolutely love it. (Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 August 2016)

I despise racism. I despise fascism. I would do anything for my Muslim friends and I know they would do anything for me… Theresa May’s policies have turned Britain into a international target… 
(Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2018)

But increasingly we see how civilian murders don’t actually matter at all with governments.  The recent Malaysian plane attack is a perfect example.  In the first few days the media referred to it as an attack, and then suddenly it became a disaster.  By ‘disaster’ they were telling us that nothing would be done about it, as if it were a flood or something.  We all see how civilian deaths do not register with world leaders unless a loss of oil or gas is involved… (Morrissey, Vegan Logic, 5 September 2014)

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/27/hostile-environment-anatomy-of-a-policy-disaster

It’s also, worth remembering that one of his closest friends, a woman he considered having a child with, Tina Dehghani, is from Iran.

Tina Dehghani, on the left

He was immediately accused of blaming all muslims and all non-white immigrants, and denounced as a racist.

Perhaps the final straw was his reaction to the terrorist murders at Manchester’s MEN Arena. Transparently Islamophobic, and published at a time of heightened community tensions, it was unforgivable. ‘In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private,’ he dog-whistled. (Michael Calderbank, Red Pepper, 2 December 2017)

Northern Irish comedian, Michael Legge, who once wrote an article that could be paraphrased into “Muslims are fucking nutters who should be put in asylums before they bomb us” (and if Morrissey wrote it, that’s exactly how it would have been paraphrased) posted abuse on Facebook and then spent years calling Morrissey fans racists on Twitter.*

Just like Moses and Allah and Thor and Spock never existed. The very fact that in 2008 this STILL has to be pointed out to people is terrifying to me. We wait until unspeakable horror happens, like a bomb going off, before we arrest people who are doing things in the name of their god but why? Why wait. Anyone going to any church, synagogue, mosque or Games Workshop should be immediately arrested for living inside a daydream. At the very least put the fucking nutters in an asylum. (Michael Legge, his blog, 29 November 2008) http://michaelleggesblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/religion.html

*Maybe it’s the rawness of “the troubles” or embarrassment at his Irish background, but another Northern Irish arts/media worker, Guardian journalist, Eamonn Forde, has also been extensively using social media to “satirically” denounce him.

Although Morrissey’s negativity isn’t a natural fit for a sentimental tribute concert, the controversy likely led to him being excluded from One Love Manchester. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40134567

Talking about it, he said: “because I do look back in anger! I would have sang ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’ or ‘Life is a Pigsty’ – or something truthful and meaningful. If my child had been killed at Manchester Arena I wouldn’t be lighting candles and swaying… I’d be in a complete rage.” (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 24 June 2019) https://www.morrisseycentral.com/messagesfrommorrissey/234417-the-interview

World Peace attacks governments:

World peace is none of your business
You must not tamper with arrangements
Work hard and sweetly pay your taxes
Never asking what for
Oh oh, you poor little fool, oh oh, you fool
World peace is none of your business
Police will stun you with their stun guns
Or they’ll disable you with tasers
That’s what Government’s for
Oh oh, you poor little fool, oh oh, you fool
World peace is none of your business
So would you, kindly keep your nose out
The rich must profit and get richer
And the poor must stay poor
Oh oh, you poor little fool, oh oh, you fool
Each time you vote, you support the process
Each time you vote, you support the process
Each time you vote, you support the process
Brazil, Bahrain, Egypt, Ukraine
So many people in pain No more you poor little fools
No more you fool

Life Is A Pigsty is about how disgusting life is, but we still fall in love.

It’s the same old S.O.S.
But with brand new
Broken fortunes,
And once again I turn
To you
Once again, I do
I turn to you It’s the same old S.O.S
But with brand new
Broken fortunes
I’m the same
Underneath
But this, you
You surely knew Life is a pigsty
Life is a pigsty
Life is a pigsty
Life, life is a pigsty
Life, life is a pigsty
Life, life is a pigsty
Life, life is a pigsty and if you don’t know this
Then what do you know?
Every second of my life
I only live for you
And you can shoot me
And you can throw me off a train
I still maintain
I still maintain
Life, life is a pigsty
Life is a pigsty and I’ve been shifting gears all of my life
But I’m still the same underneath
And this you surely knew I can’t reach you
I can’t reach you
I can’t reach you anymore Can you please stop time?
Can you stop the pain?
I feel too cold
And now I feel too warm again
Can you stop this pain?
Can you stop this pain?
Even now in the final hour
Of my life
I’m falling in love again
Again
Again

Both songs predate the Islamophobia accusations, but feelings were running so high against him, that even though, he was angry at the UK authorities who 3 years later would have significant failings revealed in a public inquiry: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/sep/08/greater-manchester-force-had-no-plan-to-police-arena-on-night-of-bombing

& Islamic State, who styled itself as a government, & was brutal to the people who found themselves living in the territory it conquered: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29052144

World Peace, would likely have been seen as divisive.

And despite, knowing that Morrissey & Islam are in total agreement that eating pigs is a bad thing (for different reasons) – pig in a song title is likely to have been interpreted as a racist insult.

In April 2018, Morrissey was denounced as an Islamophobe and a racist for saying that Eid al-Adhar wasn’t joyous because animals are sacrificed for it – Qurbani is the tradition of sacrificing an animal for God – and for saying that Halal slaughter is evil, and certified by ISIS supporters (I take it he means only hardliners would want an animal’s throat cut, he has never elaborated).

Theresa May was always a Prime Minister uninvited. She is incapable of leadership. She cannot say her own name unless it’s written down on a cue card in front of her. I recall her speech on Eid al-Adhar, and how she referred to it as a ”joyous celebration” … as millions of animals had their throats slit to mark the occasion. I wondered what kind of compassion she could possibly have. The answer is none... If you have any concern for animal welfare, for example, you cannot possibly vote for either Conservatives or Labour, because both parties support halal slaughter, which, as we all know, is evil. Furthermore, halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of ISIS, and yet in England we have halal meat served in hospitals and schools! UK law is pointless! animals rights must come before  religion. Religion must cease to be the ONLY word. I am not interested in what people did ten thousand years ago. I am concerned about what is happening today... I am not saying that stunned slaughter is acceptable, because it couldn’t ever be... I think the point is that we cease to put ourselves first. It is not about what we frivolously want. Every animal even during slaughter fights and kicks until its very last breath. It has one instinct and that is to survive. I stopped watching television because of animal death commercials. I couldn’t allow that into my living space for one more day. I feel liberated without it. They won’t show cigarette commercials but it’s OK to show butchered lambs? And  to laugh about it?  (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2018)

In July-August 2018, he worked with Sameer Gadhia on California Son and went to see his band, Giant the Younger, in LA… just … just … magnificent. Catch them if you can. Sameer is the best singer in the world today. And yesterday. And tomorrow. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 10 August 2019)

In April 2019, he was bewildered about why he was denounced as a racist and was blaming the meat industry as a whole for the world’s problems.

I can’t see how opposing Halal slaughter makes me racist when I’ve objected to ALL forms of animal slaughter all of my life… successive governments receive support and cash and sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies and farmers associations, so therefore governments are obliged to repay them. The idea, I think, is to keep people unwell, sick, or dying, and the best way to do this is to convince them that fat slices of sheeps faces are good for you. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2019)

As ever, it made no difference – everything he says is chopped up into tiny snippets, sometimes one word, sometimes an imagined word, and added to the canard that he’s a dangerous racist.

Once the torches are lit & the pitchforks are sharpened, it’s very hard to avoid being chased to the windmill.

On a Side Note: As the son of immigrants, Morrissey’s acutely aware of the identity crisis that comes from having two cultures. It’s one of the reasons he has a strong Chicano fanbase. Like him, they left their Catholic country (Mexico/Ireland) to live in a Protestant/Secular country (America/England) that often doesn’t acknowledge, like or understand them.

“my family has myriad tales of living in a golden Mexico during the 1940s and 1950s. Those stories helped foster a deep-seated melancholy within me about where I truly belong. Not quite American; not wholly Latino, living in all the spaces in between. Growing up in rural Ohio, these duelling identities caused me an incredible amount of angst, as I tried to traverse the space between home and school. It’s easy to see where so many of Morrissey’s songs that deal with identity crisis, with a sense of alienation, of being an “other”, would appeal to people such as me. Feeling ostracised, not part of a homogeneous American culture – that’s enough to make anyone morose and woebegone.” (March, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/morrissey-popularity-mexicans-smiths-chicanos-california

“Morrissey’s ‘Irishness’ is partly contained in this idea of the ‘outsider’, a fascination with writers including Oscar Wilde, his black wit, and as he has says” – “Ireland has always been a very credible and very poetic place, with no-one under any illusions about themselves – we all end up in the same bucket etc.”  (Siobhan Kane, Event Guide, August, 2006 – transcription by David Tsang, on Morrissey Solo, 24 August 2006) https://www.morrissey-solo.com/article.pl?sid=06/08/24/1713247

He wrote a song, In Mexico, 2004, about the border.

I went for a walk to inhale
The tranquil, cool, lover’s air
But I could taste a trace
Of American chemical waste
And the small voice said
“What can we do?”In Mexico
I went for a walk to inhale
The tranquil, cool, lover’s air
But I could sense the hate
From the Lone Star state
And a small voice said
“What can we do?” It seems if you’re rich and you’re white
You’ll be alright
I just don’t see why
This should be so
If you’re rich and you’re white
You’ll be alright
I just don’t see why
This should be so In Mexico
I lay on the grass
And I cried my heart out
For want of my love
Oh, for want of my love
Oh, for want of my love It seems if you’re rich and you’re white
You think you’re so right
I just don’t see why
This should be so
If you’re rich and you’re white
Then you’ll be OK
I just don’t see why
This should be soIn Mexico
I lay on the grass
And I cried my heart out
For want of my love
For want of my love
For want of my love
For want of my love

The UK’s anti-Irishness and anti-Catholicism are near forgotten these days but were still prevalent well into Morrissey’s adulthood. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/irish-butt-english-racism-more-eight-centuries-1342976.html

England’s Quare Cancer – Morrissey and Nostalgia

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’.

There’s a graveyard in Tir Conaill,where the blossoms sadly grow, There’s a sorrow stricken mother,kneeling o’re that lonely grave. My Noreen,oh my Noreen its lonesome since you’ve gone, Twas the shame of emigration,laid you low my Noreen Bawn. (Neil McBride, folk song, from Donegal, Ireland, 1910) https://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/songs-of-irish-emigration-exile

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 to Bengali 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)

Morrissey’s lost England

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 [Fascista 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)

Sanctimonious Animal Liberationist

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.

It’s hard to imagine Morrissey poking fun at himself, but here’s the same self-righteous lettucehead of Meat is Murder singing a song called Bigmouth Strikes Again. (Mark Coleman, Rolling Stone, 11 September 1986)

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)

While it’s one thing for an artist to insist on vegetarian catering for themselves, it does seem rather extreme to demand that those working at and attending the show must also adhere to their food preferences... But it’s Morrissey and it seems that promoters are prepared to put up with such food fascism.  (Jim Carroll, the Irish Times, 17 June 2011) https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music/morrissey-poses-his-omnivore-fans-a-dilemma-1.599210

He’s undeterred.

…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)