SMITH’S SOAPBOX: Are today’s celebrities under pressure to be liberal mouthpieces?

Since I was a child, I have had a mild obsession with fame. I’ve always quite liked the idea of being famous. Now I’m uphill towards my 30s, I have realised this will not ever become a reality. Not just because I cannot, act, sing, dance or possess any discernible quality that would render me favourable to the general public (although that hasn’t stopped a lot of celebrities. Look at the Kardashians), but because I’m not a mouthpiece for the liberal left-wing. Sadly, today, it seems that you face an uphill battle to gain or uphold popularity with many fans if you say anything that might be against the narrative of Britain’s (and a large proportion of the West’s) young of today.

Last week, enigmatic former Smiths frontman, Morrissey, caused a storm amongst some of his own fan-base for an interview on his own website in which he blasted London Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling the capital “debased” and “second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks”, as well as attacking both Labour and Conservative parties for their supposed soft approach to Halal slaughter and once again voicing his support for Britain leaving the European Union. He also seemed to voice his support for Anne Marie Waters’ For Britain party, showing agreement for their stance on animal welfare. Since this interview, tote bags bearing the words “Shut up, Morrissey”* have been sold online via Etsy.

It’s hardly as if Morrissey has changed his tune regarding his views. A longstanding animal rights supporter, Morrissey is very unlikely to support Halal slaughter, and his anti-establishment rhetoric has been long-held, having publicly criticised the Royal Family on many occasions, as well as calling former Conservative Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major as “a terror without an atom of humanity” and “a terrible human mistake” respectively. However, his criticism of current liberal politicians will more than likely see him viewed as no more than a “far-right” extremist.

The most poignant and awful inspiration for this article came from the reaction to the untimely passing of gameshow host Dale Winton. The 62-year-old suffered with a history of mental health problems and lived a reclusive life in more recent years, and the world of entertainment were quick to express their sorrow at his passing. Many members of the public were also mournful on social media, with many having met him or being contestants of the shows he hosted describing him as an affable and approachable person. But hold the phone – apparently he supported Donald Trump so who cares, right?

The Independent has been my personal choice for “Most Horrible News Outlet In Britain” for quite a while, but their click-bait-style obituary took the biscuit. In it, they took excerpts from an op-ed Winton wrote for The Conservative Woman blog soon after President Trump announced his intention to stand for the White House. One of the excerpts they took from the piece read: “He’s fearless and he promises to make his followers safe and prosperous. He loves his country and he’ll do his best to protect it from anyone who threatens its constitution. You cannot bully Trump and at the same time, he’s got your back.” He also apparently had the gall to describe Hillary Clinton as not “strong or persuasive” and Barack Obama’s Presidency as “horror upon horror”. It’s worth noting that Indy100’s insulting obit didn’t feature the quote from the article where Winton said of Trump’s speech: “I was insulted at times and then again reassured by other statements. I didn’t know what to think. I needed to separate the bellicose bluster from the assailant fiscal message.” But hey, that would’ve somewhat altered the whole article showing Winton as someone who was perhaps right-wing, but had some grounded sense of being able to disagree with a politician without missing the things that he thought were positive about him.

The modern gutter left-wing press have been pretty low at times, but to seemingly mock the political views of a man whose corpse was barely cold at the time is reaching a low that I was even shocked at them for. But it’s anything to get in a petty dig about someone who conveys any views to the right of Trotsky.

It begs the question – are celebrities under pressure to be liberal for the sake of popularity? Back in 1983, the Tories showcased celebrities as their supporters at their annual autumn conference. Six-times World Snooker championship-winner Steve Davis and comedian Kenny Everett – amongst others – were billed as Tories. Popular people and popular they remained (even when Everett suggested bombing Russia and kicking away the walking stick of then-Labour leader Michael Foot). It would be difficult to envisage such an event happening now, because if it did it would be easy to envisage ticket sales plummeting and boycotts by supporters fuelled by the media. Whereas celebrity support of the Labour Party and any Democratic politician are commonplace. And I can virtually guarantee that the majority of right-wing would continue to listen to their music or see their films, not letting their political opinions sway the way they think of them.

If you will excuse me, I believe there is an audition for a film I have to attend. Perhaps I’ll pin a UKIP rosette to my lapel and see how far it gets me. Wish me luck!

*The ‘Shut up, Morrissey’ tote bags were originally sold after the distributor overheard The Smiths being played at a festival with a friend and subsequently put them into production. The sales over them raised almost £2,000 to the victims of the Manchester terror attack.

Jack Oliver Smith is the Associate Editor of New Media Central. Follow him on Twitter @MisterJackSmith


Jack Smith

About Jack Smith

Jack is from Hampshire, England, who has recently entered into the foray of political reporting, with a background primarily in sports journalism, in which he has interviewed Formula 1 drivers and British soccer stars. Jack is a supporter of the UK Independence Party and campaigned for ‘Brexit’, his particular interests being British politics and political campaign analysis. A keen poet, Jack has performed frequently in his home town in-front of small audiences of left-wing creative writers, who he is disappointed not to have offended yet.