Given that it’s now six weeks since Frank Turner appeared in the pre-amble before the Olympics opening ceremony proper got under way, you might argue that it’s a little late for an ‘exposé’ of his political views. Though considering the quotes used in The Guardian’s blog post on that very subject this week were largely taken from an interview published in 2009, the linking of it to his recent big gig seems positively lightning fast.
Anyway, the upshot of this is that the man who sang ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ is actually so right wing that he thinks the BNP are a bit soft. He’s been swanning around pretending to be the new Billy Bragg all this time and it turns out he’s waiting for his moment to pounce and turn us all into angry, change-fearing racists with his magical political powers. Or something.
Of particular focus was a quote from that 2009 interview with Moon & Back Music, in which he said: “To start with, most people don’t seem to understand what the difference between left and right is. For example, the BNP are a hard left party. I consider myself a libertarian, I consider myself to be pretty right wing and I get shit for saying that out loud. I was thinking about it the other day, I was thinking about how, quite often, I do keep myself to myself on the subject because I can’t be fucking bothered to have some guy look all shocked at me because I think socialism’s retarded”.
Now, while it’s true that Turner did utter the words “I consider myself to be pretty right wing” there, he did also start by saying he doesn’t see the terms ‘right’ and ‘left’ in the same way most people do. It sounds, actually, like his views a bit more complex than you can fit into one soundbite. Other quotes picked out by The Guardian go on to show that he has (or has had) views that I wouldn’t entirely agree with, but after months (perhaps years) of articles in the same paper complaining that there aren’t enough political musicians any more, it seems a bit odd to shoot down one who’s pretty successful and clearly very politically minded (even if he doesn’t consider himself a political musician, as we’ll see).
In a blog post after the Guardian article was published, Turner wrote: “My politics are based on principles like democracy, individuality, equality of opportunity, distrust of power and, above all else, freedom, including economic freedom. They’re not the same as when I was nineteen, or indeed 23 … Once I would have called myself an anarchist. These days I suppose the word ‘libertarian’ does pretty well for me, though I suspect it’s a little over-intellectual as a description. I just think the world works better when people are left alone to do what they want as much as possible”.
On the subject of being a ‘political musician’, he added: “I don’t want my music to be particularly political (as I’ve been saying for ages) so I don’t talk about it that much. But it’s not like I keep it secret either. A lot of the fuss here to me seems to be because some people have had an idea of what they want me to be, and have discovered I’m not that … At the end of the day, some people will disagree with my politics. That’s fine. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do with their lives. Most of my friends disagree with me, not least Billy Bragg and Chris T-T”.
Addressing his comments on the BNP, he said: “Obviously I think the BNP are repugnant. They are a socially right-wing/racist party, but their economic policies are pretty authoritarian left wing. I happen to oppose them strongly for both of those reasons”.
So, hey, it turns out everything in the world isn’t black and white, as anyone who voted Liberal Democrat in the last election should already know.