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

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Why the left shouldn’t abandon freedom of movement

Jeremy Corbyn is right to avoid making promises on immigration. 

Jeremy Corbyn was on the BBC’s Today programme yesterday morning, answering questions about policy ahead of his party conference speech.

The main line of questioning was on immigration, something Corbyn and his team have had to think hard about in recent months.

For over a decade, all parties have been trying to marry policy with popular opinion on Britain’s migrants. Brexit has exacerbated this dilemma, what with the UK’s participation in freedom of movement teetering on the rim of the dustbin of history.

The problem is a familiar one. Immigration is generally a good thing, but in the eyes of the majority of voters – and in reality in certain pockets of the country – it doesn’t look that way. But for a party seen as “soft” on immigration, pandering to the harder line of rhetoric from its opponents merely reinforces the perception that there is a big problem – and validates its opponents’ policies.

The Labour leader has angered some in his party by insisting he won’t be drawn into making “false promises” on immigration numbers. This is the right decision. The Tories’ targets are arbitrary, set them up to fail, and do little to quell public dissatisfaction with the number of migrants.

An inaccurate government headcount, whether it’s successfully brought down or not, doesn’t translate onto your street, or local schools, or queue at the doctor’s surgery – just as a politician’s reassurance about the positive net contribution from migrants doesn’t. The macro doesn’t satisfy the micro.

And Corbyn calling for a cap would not only be unconvincing to voters, but a betrayal of his supporters, who have projected their liberal politics onto him and love it when he champions migrants. Corbyn himself has never really been into free movement; he’s unconvinced by the benefits of the single market. Of course he is. He’s a eurosceptic, and a eurosceptic who is suspicious of capitalism, to boot.

But having a leader of a mainstream party sticking up for migrants is an important thing; someone’s got to make the positive case, and it’s not like Corbyn’s one to compromise for votes anyway. Particularly as he builds his whole reputation on being a “man of principle” and a “real alternative”.

Rather than “false promises”, Corbyn’s given us a number of false problems instead. He speaks about the effect of migration in terms of depressed wages and pressure on public services. If he were in government, he would reintroduce a “migrant impact fund” (amount unspecified) to make up for these.

The first problem with this is that Corbyn knows as well as Boris Johnson and Theresa May and George Osborne and Ed Miliband and Tony Blair and Caroline Lucas and everyone else who’s attempted to make policy on this does that, actually, migrants overwhelmingly come here to work. Indeed, he underlined his stance against scapegoating migrants in a passionate passage of his speech yesterday. They don’t “take” people’s jobs, and it is not the number of them that brings down wages or drives up rents.

Where wages are kept lower than the national average by the presence of migrant workers, you will find numerous agencies that pay them less than the minimum wage, fail to give them proper contracts, and often advertise jobs solely overseas. Where you find these agencies, you find businesses happy to turn a blind eye to their recruitment and employment practices.

Where rents are driven up higher than the local average by the presence of migrant workers, you will find landlords who are happy to make money from people willing to live ten to a house, share bedrooms and have a poor quality of life.

Boston – the town in Britain with the highest proportion of EU migrants after London – is a textbook study of this. A high level of workers is needed for agricultural and factory labour. They aren’t stealing people’s jobs, and unemployment is relatively low. But those who benefit financially from their presence, and take advantage, are the ones who cause the consequent negative social and economic conditions in the town. Conditions that led it to voting higher than anywhere else for Brexit.

So Corbyn’s “migrant impact fund” is a nebulous fix to a false problem that not even he believes in. Even the name of it sends the wrong message, making migration sound like a spate of bad flooding, or noise pollution.

It’s our light-touch enforcement of employment law, and murky regulation of exploitative agencies that slip through its net, which need government money and attention. Perhaps “shark impact fund” would be a better name for Corbyn’s fix-all pot of gold.

Giving councils extra funds for public services is priced into Labour policy already (if the party truly is anti-austerity) – and should not now be linked to a negative idea of migration in a tacked-on attempt to to make something palatable for voters. It’s a bit like Ed Miliband’s “Controls on Immigration” mug. Simply giving something a new name, or stamping on a motto, doesn’t wash with voters.

Those who argue that the country has voted against free movement, and we should accept it, that may be so. But it’ll do the Labour party little good campaigning to get rid of it. Once it’s gone, and we’ve replaced it with some kind of points-based system, places with high levels of migration will still have high levels of migration – because those are the places where jobs need filling. It’ll either be EU migrants who manage to stick around, or other immigrants drafted in out of necessity having been assessed under a points-based system. If investment in these areas isn’t ramped up, residents will still feel left behind, and will still see migrants around them as the cause.

So what about the many pro-Brexit areas where there is a very low number of immigrants? This really is irrelevant. The problem in these areas is the problem the country over: lack of funds. Unless you invest, people will remain unsatisfied. And if people remain unsatisfied, they will continue to look for something to blame. Unfortunately, Corbyn is joining the legions of politicians who are handing them that easy target. And he is least likely to see the electoral benefit of it.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.