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Morrissey, the NME and Some Reflections on Immigration

The gates of England are flooded. The country’s been thrown away."


A touch of the Enoch Powell’s seems to have afflicted England’s greatest ever songwriter?


It would seem so, until it becomes apparent that the NME took two separate sentences uttered by Morrissey on different occasions, and meshed them into one in order to make a good hook line on the front page.


The author of the story, Tim Jonze submitted the interview in good faith and when he saw how it had been constructed he immediately demanded it be edited back, and when the paper refused he had his name removed from the piece.


This is why Morrissey is suing the NME. It has nothing to do with the content of the piece, more to do with how the paper has yet again stitched him up and slurred his reputation with racism.


For a modern, progressive artist there can be no worse accusation. Eric Clapton is a racist and proud of it, so you know where you stand with a guy like that. Irony doesn’t even begin to deal with that situation.


But the worst thing that Morrissey can be accused of is naivety given his history with this music paper, who in 1993 intimated that the Mancunian held dodgy right wing views as he was draped in the Union Jack whilst supporting Madness.


I have read the interview in full, and spent some time reading the extremely pedantic and tedious statement on his management sanctioned website http://www.true-to-you.net and can conclude that whilst Morrissey has been outspoken, there is no evidence that he is a racist.


Here is an example of what Morrissey said, and my comments based on the experience of being a patient at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, which serves the community of Tower Hamlets in the East End for a total of four weeks.


"With the issue of immigration, it’s very difficult because although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears."


As a white Anglo Irish male I felt angry and frustrated that on my last stay in hospital my dire situation of developing meningitis was exacerbated by the fact that all the staff, please note NOT some, ALL the staff “caring” for me were African.


Not a problem as such but the language barrier became a total nightmare.


I needed sleeping pills on a regular basis, plus sedation and a saline drip but every single issue became a battle as they simply didn’t understand, and more pertinently they did not want to understand what I was asking for, but were very content to speak their own local languages with each other, and patients from that Continent.


Thus a simple polite request has to be delivered as a demand as this seems to be how things are done.


The Anglo Irish are by nature more reticent in the way we ask for help, whereas one Zimbabwean nurse told me, in a friendly but insightful way that in Africa manners don’t work the same way. It’s a cultural thing and there is no value judgement placed on people because of it. It’s just the way things work.


Additionally, we have different views on what constitutes “dignity”. That sounds a bit nebulous and precious, but the way I was dealt with when I was racked by violent vomiting, sweating and shaking at the height of it was just disgraceful. Man handled and shouted at in accents so heavy I couldn’t make out a word. And that when they deigned to speak English in front of me.


I am thirty-nine, big and ugly enough to look after myself but imagine if I had been an elderly person? Or indeed this had been my first contact with hospital in the wake of my appalling initial diagnosis?


One thing I remember more than anything else when it all kicked off, was the kindness, good humour and empathy that I was treated with by the Staff crew at Hull Royal. The Doctors may have been hopeless (all overseas), but the physios, porters, nurses and general staff were diamonds.


Why? Because by and large all the people were from Hull and it’s hinterland thus they know and understand the community.


If you introduce a few outsiders then they pick up the vibe and can enhance matters with a different slant, but within the local context of how things are done.


But if those positive few then lead to the demographic situation being changed beyond recognition, then it becomes inevitable that the zeitgeist and dynamics of a community change, and it is everyone that suffers.


The indigenous population become resentful and this transmits as hostility to the newcomers who then turn in on themselves and shun integration.


We have to address head on why it is that areas such as the East End and Leicester (50% Asian as of 2001 and rising) are becoming they way they are.


(Morrissey used the word “flooded”, but given the history of such a term, I feel this inflammatory, but I know what he means.)


“It’s the economy, stupid”. Bill Clinton’s quote regarding the leading factor in elections can be transposed to so many scenarios, and immigration is one of them.


Due to the fact that 85% of the World’s population own 10% of the wealth, and that if you are on the UK minimum wage this puts you in the top 12% of the World’s earners, the attraction of the Western Developed World is enormous.


It’s natural that the brightest and best from the Underdeveloped and Developing Worlds will gravitate to where the money is. Who wouldn’t?


It was the lot of the Irish until the 1990’s, and now it’s the Poles, Eastern Europeans and Africans who make their way here, so denuding their home countries and further hamstringing chances of progress. The ultimate Vicious Circle.


Who gains? Not the Working Class in the UK who see wages driven down and prices driven up by demand for housing. Not the Migrant Workers themselves who become isolated within a hostile environment and hanker for home. Listen to the great Irish Folk music of the mid 20th Century as they yearn for the Ould Country.


The winners, as ever are the Boss Class whose obscene bonuses dwarf any gains made at the lower end. Company Director’s pay has increased by a revolting 52% since 2000, (source TUC.org.uk) compared with 6% for everyone else.


Top pay is increasing 17 times faster than average pay. And if City bonuses had been shared among everyone at work in the UK, we could all have enjoyed a Christmas bonus of more than £350 each.


If we were serious then Tony Blair’s call to arms to “Make Poverty History” would benefit everyone, as migrant workers would be able to stay at home, fulfil their dreams and transform their Nations.


And communities in the UK fractured by the tensions of immigration, could be healed and become truly multi cultural.


That way everyone wins. Except the Bosses, which is why it will never happen making Gleneagles 2005, and Live 8 nothing but a sick joke at the expense of communities all over this Globe of ours.


 That’s what Morrissey (I reckon) was getting at. He is no racist and as a Socialist neither am I, but things need to be said and debated amongst the Progressive Left. No sacred cows. Just the truth as we see it, couched in moderate, temperate language


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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