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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It's easy to see where Berlin is being rebuilt – just hit the streets

My week, from walking the streets of Berlin to class snobbery and the right kind of gentrification.

Brick by brick, block by block, the people are rebuilding the city once called Faust’s Metropolis. To see it clearly, put your boots on. One of the most bracing walks starts by the Gethsemane Church, which served as a haven for dissenters in the last days of the GDR and takes you down ­towards the Hackescher Markt.

Here, in what is still the eastern half of a divided city that wears its division more lightly, is a Berlin experience both old and new. In three decades of frequent visits, it has been fascinating to note how much this part of town has changed. Even a decade ago these streets were rundown. With crumbling buildings showing bulletholes, it wasn’t hard to imagine what the place looked like in 1945. Now there are lilacs, blues, and yellows. Cafés, bars and restaurants abound, serving the young professionals attracted to the city by cheap rents and a renewed sense of community.

 

Breaking the fourth wall

Looking north along Schliemannstraße, you’ll find a delightful vista of well-tended balconies. It’s a pleasant place to live, notwithstanding the gaggle of grotesques who gather round the corner in the square. On Kastanienallee, which forms the second leg of the walk, an old city feels young. It’s a kind of gentrification but the right kind. There’s more to eat, to drink, to buy, for all.

Berlin, where Bertolt Brecht staged his unwatchable plays, was supposed to have been transformed by a proletarian revolution. Instead, it has been restored to health by a very middle-class one. Germany has always had a well-educated middle class, and the nation’s restoration would have impossible without such people. The irony is delicious – not that irony buttered many parsnips for “dirty Bertie”.

 

The new snobbery

The British Museum’s survey of German history “Memories of a Nation” is being presented at the Martin-Gropius-Bau as “The British View”. Germans, natürlich, are curious to see how we observe them. But how do they see us?

A German friend recently in England  said that the images that struck him most forcibly were the tins of food and cheap booze people piled up in supermarkets, and the number of teenage girls pushing prams. Perhaps Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum who will shortly take up a similar role here at the new Humboldt Forum, may turn his attention to a “German View” of the United Kingdom.

There’s no shortage of material. In Schlawinchen, a bar that typifies Kreuzberg’s hobohemia, a college-educated English girl was trying to explain northern England to an American she had just met. Speaking in an ugly modern Mancunian voice that can only be acquired through years of practice (sugar pronounced as “sug-oar”), she refer­red to Durham and York as “middle class, you know, posh”, because those cities had magnificent cathedrals.

When it comes to inverted snobbery, no nation can match us. To be middle class in Germany is an indication of civic value. In modern England, it can mark you as a leper.

 

Culture vultures

The Humboldt Forum, taking shape by the banks of the Spree, reconsecrates the former site of the GDR’s Palace of the Republic. When it opens in 2018 it will be a “living exhibition”, dedicated to all the cultures of the world. Alexander von Humboldt, the naturalist and explorer, was the brother of Wilhelm, the diplomat and philosopher, whose name lives on in the nearby university.

In Potsdamerplatz there are plans to build a modern art museum, crammed in between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Philharmonie, home to the Berlin Philharmonic. Meanwhile, the overhaul of the Deutsche Staatsoper, where Daniel Barenboim is music director for life, is likely to be completed, fingers crossed, next autumn.

Culture everywhere! Or perhaps that should be Kultur, which has a slightly different meaning in Germany. They take these things more seriously, and there is no hint of bogus populism. In London, plans for a new concert hall have been shelved. Sir Peter Hall’s words remain true: “England is a philistine country that loves the arts.”

 

European neighbours

When Germans speak of freedom, wrote A J P Taylor, a historian who seems to have fallen from favour, they mean the freedom to be German. No longer. When modern Germans speak of freedom, they observe it through the filter of the European Union.

But nation states are shaped by different forces. “We are educated to be obedient,” a Berlin friend who spent a year at an English school once told me. “You are educated to be independent.” To turn around Taylor’s dictum: when the English speak of freedom,
they mean the freedom to be English.

No matter what you may have heard, the Germans have always admired our independence of spirit. We shall, however, always see “Europe” in different ways. Europe, good: we can all agree on that. The European Union, not so good. It doesn’t mean we have to fall out, and the Germans are good friends to have.

 

Hook, line and sinker

There are fine walks to be had in the west, too. In Charlottenburg, the Kensington of Berlin, the mood is gentler, yet you can still feel the city humming. Here, there are some classic places to eat and drink – the Literaturhauscafé for breakfast and, for dinner, Marjellchen, a treasure trove of east Prussian forest delights. Anything that can be shot and put in a pot!

For a real Berlin experience, though, head at nightfall for Zwiebelfisch, the great tavern on Savignyplatz, and watch the trains glide by on the other side of Kantstraße. Hartmut Volmerhaus, a most amusing host, has been the guvnor here for more than 30 years and there are no signs that his race is run. The “Fisch” at twilight: there’s nowhere better to feel the pulse of this remarkable city. 

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage