Brendan O’Neill

Stormzy is the new Bono

Stormzy is the new Bono
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Stormzy has a song called Shut Up. ‘Oi rudeboy, shut up’, he raps. I wish he’d take his own advice. His predictable political musings are getting boring. His Corbyn cheering went down like a cup of cold sick with the populace. And his chattering-class views are just embarrassing for someone who claims to be grime. It’s time for a temporary vow of silence, Stormzy.

His latest ‘controversial’ utterance came at his former primary school. He told a bunch of seven-year-olds there that their new PM, Boris Johnson, is a ‘very, very bad man’. In response to one of the kids who asked him why he doesn’t like Boris — one of Stormzy’s best-known lyrics is ‘Fuck the government / Fuck Boris’ — Stormzy likened the PM to ‘the big, bad wolf’.

In one sense, this all feels entirely fitting. It sums up the infantile moralism of much of the pro-Corbyn camp who really did develop a fairytale view of the world in which Jezza was an allotment-tending Santa Claus figure come to save the poor from their own stupidity, while Boris was basically a blonde, British Hitler who would close all libraries, starve the poor and make it the law to always refer to women in niqabs as letterboxes.

Sure, Stormzy was talking to kids and clearly tempered his language accordingly. But still, his branding of Boris as a ‘big, bad wolf’ spoke volumes about the shallow, good-vs-evil posturing that so many pro-Corbyn celebs engaged in, whether it was Lily Allen storming off Twitter because she thinks everyone is racist or Hugh Grant doing his Love Actually routine in the leafy suburbs of London to try to convince people to keep the big, bad wolf out of Downing Street.

Hilariously — and tellingly — this celeb stuff had very little cut-through. It would take a heart of stone not to chortle at the fact that every candidate backed by Hugh failed to win. Or that even Little Mix and Dua Lipa, never mind King Stormzy, failed to save Labour from its worst electoral drubbing in decades. That’s a good lesson to learn from this election: ordinary people aren’t as swayed by virtue-signalling celebs as the political elites think we are. We’re a bit more serious than that, thanks.

But perhaps the most striking thing about Stormzy’s spouting of fairytale politics at his former school is how little fuss there’s been about it. The only person asking, quite sensibly, why a celeb is in a school telling very young children that the PM is a very bad man is Piers Morgan. Pretty much everyone else, certainly in liberal circles and no doubt in the flagging Corbyn clique too, is cheering Stormzy on. Like they always do.

Stormzy has become the darling of the chattering class. He’s the leftish establishment’s favourite rebel. And he doesn’t seem to realise how much of a blow this is to his reputation as a supposed street star.

I cringe now when Stormzy does politics, because it’s all so achingly right-on, so Guardianista, so goddamn middle of the road. The lowlight was his Instagram post bigging up Corbyn before the election. His attack lines on Boris came straight from the PC broadsheet press: Boris once said the word piccaninnies, he compared women in niqabs to letterboxes, etc. And, get this, Stormzy expressed his horror that ‘we are leaving the EU’.

What? Is the grime superstar pro-EU? Pro-bureaucracy, pro-technocracy? Why? Because that's what you have to be these days if you want to be loved by luvvies, which Stormzy clearly does. I read his teary-eyed concern for the fate of Brussels and found myself thinking, ‘Who is this — Bono?’.

The speed with which Stormzy has embraced every lazy, expected, uncritical right-on position out there is humiliating, if you ask me. He’s like a Guardian editorial made flesh. From his ill-thought-through comments on Grenfell to his description of Jacob Rees-Mogg as a ‘piece of shit’ to his view of Boris as a ‘very bad man’, none of his views would be out of place at an Islington dinner party. Emily Thornberry should have him round.

Stormzy’s problem isn’t that he’s outrageous. It’s the opposite — it’s that he has been co-opted by the cultural elite and turned into the morally correct spokesperson for right-on, Remainy young people.

What a disaster. That Stormzy is only offending Piers Morgan these days should give the grime star serious pause for thought.

Written byBrendan O’Neill

Brendan O’Neill is the editor of Spiked and a columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue.

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