Steven Morrissey, formerly of Stretford, Manchester, latterly of Los Angeles, believes that ‘Brexit’ is magnificent and that the ‘royals’ are odious. Well, he has always believed the latter and I agree with him, but given that he no longer even lives on these islands, does he have any more right to pontificate on politics, than his Irish cousin Robbie Keane, who keeps his skill set in the area where it belongs (ie on a football pitch)? Morrissey grew up in the city where the vegetarian movement originated, itself a development of the English nonconformism – particularly of the North and Midlands – that has in a different way expressed itself through the referendum. A feeling that we are different, perhaps in a secular, rather than a religious, nonconformist way, from our continental neighbours.
This could make one wonder if Brexit Britain is going to become a grim puritanical place; all the more so when one reads that über-feminist Julie Burchill is also a Brexiteer. Indeed, Burchill’s former columns for the Saturday edition of the Guardian hinted at this whenever she referred to Britain as this ‘Sceptered Isle’, even if this was part of an anti-American rant. Burchill of course correctly states the inane worship of French women being perfect (as if they all look like, or are as wealthy as, Sophie Marceau), compared to British women, but I don’t somehow see Burchill becoming an advocate for the football WAGs of Page 3 with their homes in Bowdon or Alderley Edge. In Morrissey’s autobiography, he gives Burchill a taste of her own bitchiness to show that the drama queen in him isn’t yet dead.
Contrasting with those two, you might think that anyone would be preferable and Morrissey’s fellow Mancunian Bernie-Barney Albrecht-Dicken-Sumner gives his view that Brexit Britain could return to ‘some kind of little Britain, circa the 1950s’. Whilst the article mentions the deindustrialisation of Salford, it omits the development of Salford Quays as a media and cultural centre, something which has nothing to do with the EU. Sumner’s views are based on his affinity for continental Europe, from Joy Division’s touring of the Low Countries and Germany, though the article is also a plug for New Order’s latest album, showing some obvious business nous. Perhaps he should consider opening a wine bar in Hale and calling it ‘Remainers’ if there aren’t too many wine bars there already. However the real problem with the article is its selectivity, which is no surprise given its target audience, as it is deliberately confusing the EU, a political project, for Europe, a continent of more than two dozen nations each with its own traditions; traditions which will disappear should the EU continue its process of centralisation, subordinating all the nations to the status of provinces. There is no mention that the EU is itself peddling a pan-European form of nationalism, complete with flag and anthem. There is no mention of New Order having adopted the New York sound of Arthur Baker in the song above. And Sumner, who has long since dropped his Albrecht moniker, is still probably not the best person to advocate a pan-European empire with a dominant Germany. If Manchester is comparable to Berlin, then Strangeways is to Spandau and we all forgot Rudolf Hess.