Former Smiths frontman Morrissey—scourge of meat-eaters and vivisectionists; author of such classic songs as "This is Not Your Country," "National Front Disco" and "Bengali in Platforms"—wades into the fever swamps of England's immigration debate, telling the British music magazine NME that the dear ol' blighty of Brideshead Revisited has morphed into a hideous ethnic bouillabaisse, full of people who don't speak English. Well, sort of. The Telegraph has the story:
The star, who has enjoyed a highly successful solo career since the band's split, reportedly told the music magazine NME that Britain had suffered an "immigration explosion", adding: "England is a memory now".
"The gates are flooded and anybody can have access to England and join in," he was reported as telling NME reporter Tim Jonze.
"The British identity is very attractive, I grew up into it and I find it quaint and very amusing," he went on. "Other countries have held on to their basic identity yet it seems to me that England was thrown away."
He said that while immigration does enrich the British identity, it meant saying goodbye to "the Britain you once knew. The change in England is so rapid compared to the change in any other country. If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won't hear an English accent. You'll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent."
He was challenged over the comments in a second interview, in which he insisted he did not intend to be "inflammatory".
"I find racism very silly," he said. "Almost too silly to discuss. It's beyond reason. And makes no sense and is ludicrous. I've never heard a good argument in favour of racism."
Now the gladioli-loving pop star says the NME's article misunderstood his famous Enoch Powell impression for real-deal xenophobia, and, being that the paper is published in London, he's slapping the magazine with a big fat libel suit. The Telegraph follows-up:
According to the magazine, the singer allegedly told a reporter that the British identity had disappeared as a result of immigration.
But the deadline passed without an apology from NME. "Their only response to this deadline was to say that they 'do not have time to respond to the allegations'," Morrissey's lawyers said. "We, Russells, are in the process of issuing legal proceedings for defamation on behalf of Morrissey against the NME and its editor Conor McNichols, which will be served tomorrow."
Countless bitchy threads on Morrissey's past comments on race can be found at his unofficial fan site Morrissey-solo.com.