We went to see Billy Bragg in concert last Saturday. Although we often found ourselves in the same room as Billy back in the 1980s and although I have bought records by him over the intervening years, we had never actually been to one of his concerts. So we were looking forward to it.
It was okay but I wish I had bought tickets for the Furrow Collective, who were playing in the hall next door, instead.
Back in the day, Billy Bragg was a hardcore socialist. He stood beside the miners on the picket lines and sang songs about what it was like to be working class in Thatcher’s Britain. If his more recent songs and his rants between them are anything to go by, he appears to have become just another member of the liberal elite, telling working-class people what they should think and how they should behave. At one point he came out with this long spiel about how there was no such thing as political correctness which is not only complete bollocks but is also an insult to the teenage girls of Bradford and elsewhere who the police deliberately chose not to rescue from sexual abuse out of fear of offending liberal sensibilities.
Mind you, it’s hardly surprising that he has lost touch with the working class that he used to consider himself part of as he now lives somewhere near Lyme Regis in Dorset in what he himself refers to as a “very large house.” You could not find an area in England further removed from the everyday lives of the poor and poorly paid.
He talked a lot and presumed a lot about the politics of his audience. Two things he did not mention were British Muslims protesting outside schools because they want to stop children from being told that same-gender couples are normal and okay, and the fact that the miners of the North East who he idolised in his poorer, younger days, as well as their children, mostly voted to leave the E.U. because they want to see an end to unrestricted immigration. I think he has stopped listening.