Morrissey has attracted fresh controversy recently after he sported a For Britain badge during a number of live engagements in the US, most notably during a performance on the chat show The Tonight Starring Jimmy Fallon. The musician responded to his “vengeful and paranoid” critics in an online post last week, writing: “Inventing Britain’s doomsday is the preoccupation of the tabloids, and they can hate you for having lived.”
Bragg has now given his take on the furore surrounding Morrissey’s support of For Britain, telling The Guardian this week that it has adversely affected his appreciation of Morrissey’s work with The Smiths.
“It stinks,” Bragg said. “They were the greatest band of my generation, with the greatest guitar player and the greatest lyricist. I think Johnny [Marr] was a constraint on him … back then he had to fit into the idea of the Smiths.
“But now [Morrissey is] betraying those fans, betraying his legacy and empowering the very people Smiths fans were brought into being to oppose,” Bragg added. “He’s become the Oswald Mosley of pop.”
Mosley, who initially served as an MP for both the Conservatives and Labour, became the president of the British Union of Fascists in the early 1930s before it was disbanded in 1940.
Bragg also admitted that “whenever a Smiths track comes up I flip on … I just can’t … I love Johnny Marr, he’s the nicest man I ever met in pop music. So I really feel for him that the great work that he’s done should be tainted in this way.”
This isn’t the first time that Bragg has vented his feelings about Morrissey publicly. In April 2018, Bragg responded to the title of a BBC article (‘Morrissey: Is it possible to ‘divorce the man from the music’?”) with the following declaration.
No. There was a light, but it has now gone out. https://t.co/aJ3yd3BeKk
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) April 18, 2018
Johnny Marr spoke to NME last weekend to discuss The Smiths’ legacy and Morrissey, remarking: “You can’t change history. The songs are out there for people to judge.”