A level of ‘constructive’ debate
There was an old guy who stood at the top of Carnaby Street, outside The Shakespeare’s Head, and did tricks. According to his cardboard sign his name was Conker Mustard. He didn’t smell so good and he couldn’t talk so well, but he tap danced to inappropriate music like ‘The Heat Is On’. In the days before the smoking ban, when the pavements outside pubs were less crowded than now, I would sit and watch Conker Mustard do his thing for hours.
But as much as Conker Mustard entertained me it never crossed my mind to seek his advice on the political matters of the day. My loss perhaps. Maybe, lurking beneath that mop of unwashed hair, was brain that combined the philosophical depth of a Mazzini with the breadth of vision of a Kissinger? Maybe entertainers can offer profound political insight?
Not if Morrissey is anything to go by. The front man with seminal 80’s indie group The Smiths, he has struggled to maintain his former fame. He has lately taken to puffing his profile by saying silly things about politics like this letter to noted political periodical ‘Hot Press’ released today.
Morrissey responds to the Queen’s historic visit to the Irish Republic. The first monarch to visit the only country that shares a land border with the UK since George V, several decades of rebellion, war, civil war, terrorism, bad feeling and death separate the two.
He opens his letter with the observation that “The message from the Queen will be the same as ever: who we are born to is more important than what we achieve in life”. I would actually be pretty surprised if the Queen did stand up and say this in Ireland, the general belief among the British and Irish, the majority of whom support it, seems to be that the message of the visit is that ‘We’re all friends now’, helped, no doubt, by a British loan to cash strapped Ireland of £7 billion. Maybe Morrissey knows better. Or maybe he’s just been playing his anti Monarchy greatest hits for so long he can’t learn a new tune?
Indeed, Morrissey, such a popular icon in the 1980’s, is soon scampering back there, like one of those tiresome hippies trying to relive the 60’s. Morrissey writes
“It should be remembered by the Irish people that as recently as the turn of the 1980s the Queen supported Margaret Thatcher by not dismissing Thatcher as she allowed hunger strikers to die at the Maze Prison…”
This is quite bizarre. Morrissey is a well known Republican (in the British as well as the Irish sense) and as recently as last month he was demanding that the Royal Family be abolished. Now, however, it appears that Morrissey wants the Queen to go round dismissing democratically elected leaders.
He goes on to say
“The Queen also has the power to give back the six counties to the Irish people, allowing Ireland to be a nation once again”
Firstly Morrissey is plain wrong, the Queen does not have that power. But again, his thinking is hilariously muddled. Not only does Morrissey’s new found fondness for absolute Crown authority cover deposing Prime Ministers, but he also wants the Queen to hand over 1.7 million of her subjects to a foreign government without them having any say in the matter at all. This contradiction to his usual utterances is so glaring that you can only conclude that Morrissey is particularly stupid not to realise the fact.
The more you read the more the evidence that Morrissey isn’t very bright piles up. He brands the Queen’s decision not to hand Ulster over to the Republic “Fascism in full flow”. In fairness, Morrissey is only the latest in a very long line of people to use the F word without having a clue what it means. But, really, what could be more fascistic than an unelected head of state simply telling 1.7 million people that as of tomorrow they will be living in another country, under another government, whether they like it or not?
Let’s cut Morrissey some slack; perhaps he isn’t stupid as much as ignorant. After all, he asks us to “Name one other European country that is controlled by its neighbour”. Well, there’s northern Cyprus. The South Tyrol. The Basque Country. East Prussia. Lombardy. Catalonia. Indeed, ask a supporter of Plaid Cymru or the Scottish National Party and you can add Wales and Scotland to that list. Quite a few in the Republic of Ireland, where fiscal policy is being dictated by the European Union, would add themselves to it.
Morrissey simply isn’t even aware of any of this. But then again, when you’re reading from 30 year old sheet music you won’t be doing much improvisation.
Morrissey isn’t totally ignorant of affairs beyond the end of his nose. He casts his rhetorical net to the Middle East saying “For a broad historical view of what the Queen is and how she ‘rules’, examine Gaddafi or Mubarak, and see if you can spot any difference”
One difference is that the Queen doesn’t ‘rule’, Parliament does although here Morrissey is contradicting what he wrote just a couple of paragraphs ago when he wanted the Queen to ditch elected leaders and tell large chunks of the UK population which country they should be living in.
And another difference; Iman Al-Obeidi was arrested by Gaddafi’s security forces and repeatedly gang raped while in custody. When she reported this to the western media she was arrested again. Consider the genuine horror that woman went through and now see if your stomach doesn’t turn when Morrissey, millionaire rock star, tries to tell you we have it as bad over here.
Morrissey is stupid. Morrissey is ignorant. Morrissey is inconsistent and hypocritical. But he’s a pretty good musician. As with smelly old Conker Mustard, I’ll happily tap my foot along but if I want political insight, I’ll look elsewhere.