A delicious row brews between Morrissey and the NME – he’s on the cover this week adorned with his own words on the topics of immigration and floodgates. “Oh dear, not again,” sighs the mag. Shouldn’t this have been, “Oh goody! More PR for the NME!”? The interview itself confirms Moz’s view that logistically it’s probably unwise to let the entire world move into the UK but the NME takes this as code for darker sentiments even though he backs its Love Music Hate Racism campaign.
Now my attention is drawn to Morrissey’s website – oh dear, Big Mouth is awfully upset, and with reason if we are to believe the piece therein penned by Moz’s agent Merck Mercuriadis. His tale of what NME’s editor Conor McNicholas said one minute and then did the next is, prima facie, curious to say the least – it appears he only confirmed that the magazine would be tough on the star and his opinions when it was too late to injunct the issue, having first denied a hatchet job. Legal threats are made by Moz’s front, and a lawyer’s letter to Conor (“Not for publication") is published. Could it be that Moz will sue NME?
Let us examine the interview. It follows the lazy Q‘n’A format (I can get away with it because my stuff’s free) but has a caveat-style intro in which we are alerted to Moz’s “belligerence” on the topic of immigration. Contrary to NME’s testimony, he does not “steer” the conversation to the topic of immigration, but rather is slyly led there with such questions as “You live in Italy now. Would you ever consider moving back to Britain?” Ah, yes, I know that old trick; it’s artfully done. Moz’s basic message is more Laurie Lee rosy tints than BNP; a sentimental elegy for an imagined lost England: it’s the curse of age and is usually cured by a bout of hard sex with a stranger. The Q‘n’A is then interrupted by a little NME lecture about Moz’s form on immigration before the interview picks up again specifically on race and immigration. Moz repeats his concern about “floodgates”, denounces racism as “silly” and suspects he’s about to be pilloried. The interview ends with NME shaking its head in consternation at Moz’s “ravings” which make him sound like a “rogue Tory MP”.
The magazine makes clear it does not think Moz a racist. Rather, he is naïve and does not understand the effect of his words on a world he no longer understands. But damagingly a letter to Mercuriadis from the NME interviewer Tim Jonze is reprinted which reads: “I should mention that for reasons I'll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the Moz piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I've asked for my name to be taken off it. Just so you know when you read it.” His name nonetheless appears on the piece.
I can’t think any legal complaint will succeed since interpretation is by its nature subjective and no words are made up or falsely attributed so far as I can see. But the NME ed should have risked telling Mercuriadis of its editorial treatment of the interview from the outset. Of course, no editor wants to lose a guaranteed seller, even one that’s “belligerent” on immigration.
Click here to read the Morrissey complaint