Brendan O’Neill

Morrissey’s Brexit love affair makes him the last true rock’n’roll rebel

Morrissey's Brexit love affair makes him the last true rock’n’roll rebel
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Morrissey, Smiths frontman turned solo crooner turned novelist, has long taken pleasure in rattling the establishment. From mocking the monarchy on the 1986 Smiths album The Queen is Dead, to his lovely ballad about how much he wanted Margaret Thatcher to die, to his frequent foot-stomping over the meat industry, the music industry and industry in general, this Mancunian contrarian, this gobby quiff-sporter, has never been shy about shooting off his mouth at powerful people who irritate him. Now he’s at it again. Only this time he’s saved his ire for the new establishment: the PC, sex-panicking, Brexitphobic bores who make up the 21st-century chattering class.

Risking his national-treasure status — which, let’s face it, was rusty — Moz’s every utterance now seems designed to make this new elite barf into its muesli. Where they weep over Brexit, and the thick throng that voted for it, Moz says Brexit was a ‘victory for democracy’. Where they view Israel as source of much of the world’s grief, he has penned a six-minute lovesong to Israel on his new album. Where they worship at the altar of multiculturalism — having disappeared so far up the fundament of identity politics that they think it’s tantamount to a hate crime to say that any one way of life is better than another — Morrissey says ‘if you try to make everything multicultural, you end up with no culture at all’. This is a man in revolt. And it’s wonderful.

Morrissey has been out of favour with the failed musos cum critics of the British music press for years now. Ever since he frolicked with the Union flag at Madstock in 1992. You must never wave the British flag in Britain! But it’s his love affair with Brexit that really finished him off in their dead eyes. Last year he said Brexit was ‘magnificent’. He’s sticking with that analysis. I saw him perform at the Hollywood Bowl in LA last week and was amazed to see him stir the 17,000-strong audience into cries of ‘Brexit, Brexit!’ at the tail-end of his new single ‘Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage’. As a proud Brexiteer, I can say this was possibly my favourite live-music moment ever.

In an interview with Der Spiegel published this weekend, Morrissey explained his Brexitphilia. Brexit was an act of rebellion, he says. ‘The people said yes, even though Westminster said no….The public ignored the media and decided for themselves’. Voters defied an establishment that was telling them ‘if we leave the EU, we will all die’. And that makes Brexit ‘the greatest democratic victory in British politics in many, many years’. Preach. This is clearly a man in touch with his roots in the working-class North, where millions voted 'Leave', preferring their destabilising insurgency to the fearful pleas for status-quo stability made by the cultural elite.

He has also taken to singing the praises of Israel. Which is the fastest route to banishment by the PC set. He wants to be cast out. In ‘Israel’, the haunting closing track on his new album Low In High School, he sings: ‘And they who rain abuse upon you / They are jealous of you as well / Love yourself as you should / Is-ra-el.’

In the Der Spiegel interview, he slams the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement that encourages artists to steer clear of Israel as if it were a uniquely toxic nation: ‘It’s absurd and narrow-minded. It means forbidding freedom of speech’. How refreshing to see a popular entertainer stare down the self-righteous BDS lobby and its censorious forbidding of artistic mingling with the good people of Israel.

These past few days, Moz has kicked up a stink about PC:

‘Being politically correct is wrong…The crazy left, they’re so extreme…you can’t have any other opinion.’ And mass immigration. No, not because people should ‘stay where they are’, but because ‘I think every country should preserve its identity’, or they’ll end up with ‘no culture at all’.

Perhaps most controversially, he’s had a pop at the sex-harassment panic sweeping Hollywood, Westminster, and everywhere. The taking-down of so-called predators has become ‘public theatre’, he says. ‘Anyone who has ever said 'I like you' to someone else is suddenly accused of sexual harassment.’ Against a new establishment conflating minor sexual transgressions with rape, and encouraging us to view women as fragile and men as demons, Moz is making the case for lightening up, for ‘putting things into proportion’.

He’ll be demonised for all this. He’ll be called a racist, a rape apologist, a lackey of Zionists. But in truth he’s doing what rock people are meant to do: fuming against the prim, censorious, anti-people outlook of The Man; standing up for freedom of speech against PC, sexual openness against anti-sex hysteria, and ordinary people against a finger-wagging establishment that said ‘if we leave the EU, we will all die’.

He’s the last rock’n’roll rebel. A troublemaker in a sea of cardboard crooners whose idea of being rad is to get a nipple pierced. The reason the British press and Twitterati can’t appreciate Moz’s new revolting streak is simple: they’re now the status-quo stiffs this bigmouth is striking against.