Morrissey: "I nearly voted for UKIP"

The singer unburdened himself in a recent interview with Loaded.

In an interview published in the latest edition of Loaded magazine, Morrissey has described David Cameron as “gratuitously violent,” and expressed his desire to see Yvette Cooper “thrown into the sea”. In the most politically charged interview of his career, Morrissey also said he felt it was difficult to imagine Ed Miliband as Britain’s Prime Minister, and spoke of his admiration for Nigel Farage and UKIP.

Sensing Morrissey was in the mood to talk politics, interviewer Ian Edmondson invited him to pitch his manifesto for the country, to which the singer replied:

I’d naturally scrap the Honours List because it now exists only for anyone who supports the monarchy. I’d outlaw the craparazzi, who infringe upon the new stalking laws and who are a social danger; no third runway at Heathrow because, as we all know, it would be another kick in Mother Nature’s teeth; abolish DST/winter clocks because the affect of shifting time disrupts public safety, medical devices, travel, sleep, entertainment, sports, energy, all computer settings – so why bother? I’d outlaw vivisection but I’d allow anyone who supported animal experiments to put themselves forward in place of the animals. I’d ban zoos and circuses and anything similar that causes misery; I’d re-introduce red and green rear-platform Routemaster buses nationally, and have them re-powered with modern euro engines and exhausts – clippies and conductors are as essential to British life as the NHS; I’d ban foie gras from it’s final smugglers cove at Fortnum and Masons; I’d hang on to sterling, yet withdraw from the Europe Fan Club, and I’d plough the wasteful cost of being euro back into the NHS; I’d stop foreign aid because we’ve been nice enough in that department, and I’d allow the British people to hold on to their own money.”

Morrissey, a known republican with fierce anti-royal views, then began his now commonplace attack on the royal family:

“The royals must obviously resign and retire in the interests of the country, because they have proven to be an unfailing global embarrassment and they alone make England seem like a silly place to live. They are the laughing-stock of the world and their hold has gone.”

Morrissey’s opinion of David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher was equally as scathing:

As far as I understand it, he shoots stag for fun. This strikes me as being more gratuitously violent than anything that took place in riot Britain of 2011. If I kicked a dog I’d be fined £200, yet we’re asked to accept Cameron shooting down a majestic stag just for a hoot. Weird world, isn’t it? There are people doing life terms in prison who have done less damage than Thatcher. She was deeply unjust, and she hated anyone who didn’t fit in with her own philosophy. She hated the Irish freedom fighters, she hated the miners, she hated the English poor, she was the only European leader who opposed a ban on the ivory trade, she had no wit, no interest in the arts, and I just don’t think she has overcome all the hatred she aroused in people. If you were unemployed in late 70s Britain, Thatcher made you feel much worse about yourself, and she was certainly responsible for much of my depression when I was 20, and you feel repercussions from that period throughout the rest of your life. Even Heseltine couldn’t stand her, so how were the rest of us to feel?

He continued his dissection of British politics by pouring scorn on the idea of Labour leader Ed Miliband ever becoming Prime Minister:

As for Ed Miliband I don’t think anybody anticipates that time [becoming prime minister]. In fact, I even forget that he’s there, and if vocal clarity is an essential for any political leader, then I’m afraid Ed is screwed. It’s a shame Claire Short lumbered after Blair into the Iraq abyss because I thought she was otherwise quite sane.

Then came the line which has grabbed most attention on Twitter: his admiration for Nigel Farage and UKIP:

I nearly voted for UKIP. I like Nigel Farage a great deal. His views are quite logical – especially where Europe is concerned, although it was plain daft of him to applaud the lavish expense of the Royal Wedding at a time when working-class England were told to cut-back, shut-up and get stuffed.

Morrissey rarely gets through an interview without promoting animal rights, and this was no exception, this time comparing the meat industry to Auschwitz:

My main concern is what’s known as the meat industry, which is of course the death industry, and is destroying the planet in several ways, its destroying people’s health in several ways, and is a modern Auschwitz for the animals. As long as the abattoir exists in modern society then the human race is not humane at all. If you think animals are slaughtered humanely then you should try it for yourself sometime – you won’t be laughing.

He also saved some of his ire for Yvette Cooper and Theresa May, two politicians he claims refuse to answer questions directly:

Being a politician is all about concealment, and not enlightenment. The worst exponent of the filibuster is the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper. I have seen her interviewed many times, and there are no circumstances under which she will actually answer any question put to her, yet she prattles on with her replies saying only whatever best serves her. Jon Snow for Channel 4 recently tried to demand either a yes or no reply from her, and it was quite incredible how she felt no obligation whatsoever to answer in a helpful way. She ought to be thrown into the sea. On the other hand, Theresa May for the Condemns will answer every question by saying ‘I’ve made it absolutely clear, and the government have been absolutely clear’ and she’ll repeat ‘absolutely clear’ within each response so that over and over we are hypnotised with Theresa May’s technique of being ‘absolutely clear’, even though she can’t be clear about whatever it is she’s certain she’s being absolutely clear about. It’s an almost sleep-inducing spell where the listeners will believe the words to be true if they hear them parroted out ad nauseam.

[As for politicians in general] whichever way you look at it, it’s all benefit fraud, but when done by MPs it’s given a softer name – as if our learned friend’s haven’t quite created the misery for themselves, and here they are carrying a burden that isn’t really their own. Meanwhile, an obese Wakefield mum who over-claims maternity benefit for Little Sacha gets the Fraud Scum treatment by The Sun, solely because she doesn’t have any friends in outer temple chambers. Imperious politicians robbing from the public purse is reported as being such a terribly unusual thing, when you really must wonder who’s at it right now and simply hasn’t been caught.”

Quite how a former left-wing feminist has ended up declaring his admiration for Nigel Farage in Loaded magazine is a mystery to many. While his position on animal rights will continue to please his fans, and his return to defending the poor will be welcomed, some of his views - such as our relationship with the EU and his desire to see the return of old-fashioned buses and clippies - seem completely out of touch with modern British society. However, it’s his position on foreign aid which is arguably the most disconcerting. For a man who has built a career out of writing sensitive lyrics that seek to include outsiders, the idea that Britain - one of the wealthiest countries in the world - should suddenly stop providing aid that is helping to save millions of children’s lives in some of the poorest countries in the world, is desperately sad. In fact, even for his most ardent fans, some of his views are becoming unacceptable.

Morrissey. Photograph: Getty Images

Rob Pollard is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @_robpollard

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496