Billy Bragg has offered his opinion on the growing debate over Morrissey’s controversial political stance.
The former Smiths frontman has been involved in a well-documented furore after he publicly showed his support for far-right political movement ‘For Britain’. The ‘For Britain Movement’ is a political group—often described as extremist—founded by the anti-Islam activist Anne Marie Waters after she was defeated in the 2017 UKIP leadership.
Morrissey had initially voiced his support of For Britain in an interview, saying: “For Britain has received no media support and have even been dismissed with the usual childish ‘racist’ accusation…I don’t think the word ‘racist’ has any meaning any more, other than to say ‘you don’t agree with me, so you’re a racist.’ People can be utterly, utterly stupid.”
What has ensued has been a very public backing of the movement from the former Smiths frontman, which has included some high profile controversial comments and, twice in recent weeks, Morrissey has been spotted wearing a For Britain badge, most prominently during a performance on Jimmy Fallon’s major American TV show.
Now, Billy Bragg has waded into the conversation, saying: “It stinks,” when asekd about it by The Guardian. “They were the greatest band of my generation, with the greatest guitar player and the greatest lyricist. I think Johnny [Marr] was a constraint on him… back then he had to fit into the idea of the Smiths,” he continued.
Bragg then went on to compare Morrissey to Oswald Mosley, the former MP who served for both the Conservatives and Labour before acting as the president of the British Union of Fascists. “But now [Morrissey is] betraying those fans, betraying his legacy and empowering the very people Smiths fans were brought into being to oppose,” Bragg said. “He’s become the Oswald Mosley of pop.”
“Whenever a Smiths track comes up I flip on, I just can’t… I love Johnny Marr, he’s the nicest man I ever met in pop music. So I really feel for him that the great work that he’s done should be tainted in this way,” Bragg concluded.
For Britain has been largely labeled as dangerous members of the political spectrum, Morrissey’s decision to support them has been heavily criticised by Journalist and ex-friend of Morrissey Dave Haslam: “My former friend sporting a For Britain badge, a party violently anti-Islam, filled with ex-BNP and ex-EDL, pro-privatisation, far right and prone to exploiting tragedies to disseminate divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric online, what happened to ‘It takes guts to be gentle and kind’?” Haslam reacted.
The news comes as little surprise given that Morrissey, in the recent past, has defended the likes of Tommy Robinson, suggested that Hitler was left-wing and hit out at London mayor Sadiq Kahn in a slur about his speech.
Most recently, Morrissey has been thanked by For Britain leader Anne Marie Waters, thanking him and the Daily Mail for their support: “Thank you so much for your support since the UKIP leadership election,” Waters said in a new YouTube video. “Thank you for giving us so much publicity.”
Perhaps more concerning, Waters went on to suggest that the popularity of the political movement has grown substantially since Morrissey’s show of support: “I can tell you that the traffic to our website exploded with the story breaking of you wearing the For Britain button badge, which you have been wearing everywhere from what I can see. We have sold out of those, but the good news is we have more, and they have been selling like hot cakes, so thank you very much for doing that,” she added.
Signing off her YouTube video, Waters thanked both Morrissey and the Daily Mail for spreading the word about For Britain: “Thank you, Morrissey. I hope to meet you one day,” said Waters. “Thank you, Daily Mail. Keep up the hysterical smearing. It’s having the opposite effect. You are driving people to us.”