And do it for Barry O, please.
This has been a party political broadcast by the Deee-Lite Party.
This is a scan of an old flyer I have for an Anti-Nazi League rally in Fulham in 1981. If I remember correctly the National Front were going to march through the Broadway so the ANL were staging a counter-protest. I didn’t go to the rally because, for one, I thought it might get a bit violent (it did) and, secondly, it was on my birthday and getting a brick in the head from a skinhead wasn’t my idea of a good way to spend it.
The main reason I kept the flyer was because I loved the style of the ANL’s graphics. Their very bold and direct posters were the work of the great David King who in his time also designed The Sunday Times magazine, the covers of City Limits, and the sleeve of Electric Ladyland.
On the back is a polemical description of what the NF and British Movement are really all about and what life in England would be like with them in power, written in very simple language (“Don’t be conned, they’re all supporters of Hitler! And look what Hitler did!”) and obviously designed to appeal to the kids — the same ones the NF were also trying to recruit — especially bits like this:
Not sure if the musical part of that message would have worked though, I knew people (friends, even) who supported the NF and every single one of them loved reggae and soul music. Go figure. But I suppose you shouldn’t expect logic from a racist.
Download: (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing – Heaven 17 (mp3)
Being a responsible and mature adult I suppose I have to tut-tut the violence but I must admit that seeing those students rioting at Tory party headquarters in London during the protest against tuition fee increases last week did warm the cockles of my heart quite a bit. I didn’t think students had that kind of fight in them anymore, having long ago swapped the dangerous passion of political activism for dull, conformist careerism and it brought back fond memories of my own time at college — except without all the fire-starting and window-breaking stuff.
I was at Maidstone College of Art in the early 80s (the same year as Tracey Emin — oh, the stories I could tell you) when we had clear “enemies” in the form of Thatcher and Reagan and while there I went on (non-violent!) marches in support of the GLC, CND and the striking miners. More locally we were involved with fighting a plan to merge Maidstone with the nearby Canterbury and Rochester art colleges that was being forced through by the Thatcherite National Advisory Board for Education against the wishes of not only the staff and students but even the local Tory council. Being a soulless technocrat Thatcher obviously didn’t see the point of any higher education that wasn’t “practical” like the arts so we had to be made more “efficient” and the art school system turned into a vocational sausage factory. We had a big protest march through Canterbury but the main event was an all-night sit-in at the college which turned out to be more of a party than anything with live bands and dancing but who said political activism had to be boring? It certainly felt great to be involved in something like that and what’s the point of being young if you can’t make futile, idealistic gestures?
As usual it was all for nothing, Maidstone was merged with Canterbury and Rochester in 1987 after I left (though they were stopped from closing one of the colleges down completely) and now those have been folded into one multi-campus monster called the University for The Creative Arts. It turned out that our new Principal — the very man who attended all our Student Union meetings and assured us he was on our side in opposing the merger — was actually appointed by the Advisory Board tasked with the job of helping the merger happen so basically the bastard was a mole who stabbed us all in the back.
With the draconian budget cuts his government is passing David Cameron could become a hated bogeyman on a par with Thatcher and we could be in for a replay of the 1980s — futile or not. Let’s hope the music will be as good too, we may have been on the losing side in most of the battles but we had a bloody good soundtrack.
Download: Set The House Ablaze (live) – The Jam (mp3)
This is the other copy of the Daily Mirror from the 1980s that I kept, a dramatic wraparound cover from the day after the IRA tried to assassinate Maggie Thatcher in Brighton. Together with the front page from Live Aid they’re like the light and dark sides of the 80s coin.
I’m not sure how I feel about this now but I have to admit that at the time there was a moment when I wished they’d got her. The woman did inspire a rather irrational level of hate.
See the full-size version here.
Download: Suspect Device – Stiff Little Fingers (mp3)
I remember well how Michael Foot was vilified when he was leader of the Labour Party, how the smug, sneering Thatcherites mocked his shabby Worzel Gummidge appearance, his donkey jacket, how such a brilliant intellect wasn’t cut out for the modern age of television politics with it’s shallow soundbites and telegenic haircuts masquerading as human beings. But look around you today and the man seems like a giant among pygmies — a passionate speaker, a great writer, an idealist and a founding member of CND. I voted for him proudly. RIP.
Download: Remember – Shambeko! Say Wah! (mp3)
Download: Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight – The Rezillos (mp3)
The first time I remember being aware that there was such a thing as politics and economics was one day in the early 1970s when I went into my local sweet shop to buy a bag of crisps and discovered that they had gone down in price from 3p to 2 and a 1/2p. I asked the bloke in the shop why and he said “it’s because of the budget” which I thought must be a wonderful thing if it lowered the price of crisps. I don’t know if Anthony Barber or Dennis Healey was Chancellor of The Exchequer at the time but I like to think it was the latter and that’s why I became a Labour voter — forget Socialism, give me cheap crisps and I’m yours for life. I know 1/2p doesn’t sound like much but you could buy two Black Jacks for that back then.
Then one Friday night sometime later my mum sent me and my sister down to the chip shop with 10p each to buy a bag of chips, only for us to discover that they had gone up to 12p for a bag so we had to go back home to get the extra 2p. Thus my dreams of a Socialist Utopia of inexpensive greasy food and snacks were dashed and I learnt that in politics and economics there’s no such thing as a free lunch — or a bag of crisps — and what they give with one hand they take with the other.
Download: Money (extended version) – The Flying Lizards (mp3)