an open letter to Frank TurnerAn open letter to Frank Turner

Dear Frank,

I have just read that blog that prints out some old quotes of yours that were floating around on the internet.

You know the one- the one that reads as being a bit right wing. I felt a bit disappointed when I read it although I had heard loose talk of this before. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you said and they are out of context? People are now doing the twitter thing about what you said but I’m not sure if things are that clear cut . Some of the quotes are from old interviews in 2009 so maybe you have changed your mind or they may be out of context or maybe you really do feel like this about the world.

Whilst I sort of respect anyone that doesn’t toe the party line and does the left wing thing because that’s what musicians used to do and is honest about what they feel there was some stuff in there that was a bit odd to say for someone who seems pretty smart. I know your father was a banker and you went to Eton but that class war stuff bores me. I somehow felt that you were like a sort of Joe Strummer, a sort of protest singer who transcended public school- afterall you once sang that Thatcher fucked the kids- maybe you were being ironic or maybe your views are a mish mash of right and left wing thinking in these post political party line times?

I’ve seen you play many gigs and enjoyed your live performances and your appearance at the Olympics was the moment we all took the whole shebang that night seriously. (ironically one of the quotes in the blog is about the wrongs of public money being used for the arts!).

I guess I made the dopey assumption that because you were some kind of folk singer who came from the punk scene that you must have been a protest singer. Maybe you are a protest singer but one who comes from the other side?

But that then got me thinking that the days when musicians at least paid lip service to the left are over for the time being and now that Thatcher’s children are reaching the top things are different. Maybe the natural state of rock n roll was always Tory and the counter culture/left wing thing was a minor blip in the never-ending selfish circus of showbiz.

Frank, I’m not into this one side hating the other type of thing and I feel we have to respect eachother’s views in this overcrowded world where there is too much shouting and not enough thinking but there some things in the interview that don’t make a lot of sense.

I’m struggling to understand what you meant when you said the BNP are a hard left wing party and some of your other views seems a bit muddled which is confusing because when I’ve met you you seem very sharp and your songs are well written and the lyrics showed little clue to what you were thinking.

We always feel disappointed when this happens but we live with it. I’ve never burned by Ramones records because Johnny Ramone was batting for the other political side so to speak, or thrown all my Misfits records away because of the same reason- the same with the Fall or Joy Division and I suspect that punk and hardcore may have more than the usual quotient of conservative thinkers in its ranks, not that you call yourself conservative- more of a libertarian and that is something else entirely and the quotes printed out to seem to be a jumble of views that swerve from the right to an almost anarchist point of view.

Frank, maybe you are an example of the new way of thinking where there is no left or right and the traditional boundaries have become so merged that no-one knows where they stand anymore and it is quite possible to think what were traditionally thought of us left and right wing views at the same time.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Frank, your music’s great and your politics are your decision and yours alone. But the BNP is NOT a ‘far left-wing’ political party. I don’t care who told you it is, or whether you have drawn this conclusion by misreading a politics blog, or simply misreading history. It is not. It’s a group of racists whose main interest is the enaction of racist policies in the UK.

    Racism, Frank, is Right wing. By definition. That doesn’t mean all right wingers are racists. You are not a racist, nor was Thatcher despite her many, many sins. But ALL racists ARE Right wing, regardless of their other views on politics, economics, or society. I like your stuff, though less so the little England bits you throw out occasionally, and you’re clearly not stupid, whatever else you are, so please, if you don’t understand the thing you plan to talk about, just don’t talk about it. Because anyone’s entitled to disagree about someone’s political opinion, but it’s depressing when someone you like makes themselves look a dick by saying things which are demonstrably untrue.

  2. Dear John,

    Yeah Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be Are They..?

    It’s a sure sign you’re getting old when Folk singers replace their classic songs like

    “I Was Born In A Biscuit Tin In A Coal Mine During A Cholera Outbreak..”


    “Get Back To Africa And Stop Stealin’ All Our Women With Your Big Thingys..”


    “I’ve A Jolly Good Mind To Give The Poor A Bally Good Thrashing..”

    Also good to read a high principled Labour MP pointing out such rank hypocrisy..

    All those years of New Labour turned public school boy/barrister/Thatcher groupie Tony Blair into a fine left winger in Connaught Square who never wavered in his staunch policies for the whole of an afternoon in 1998…

    (He still regularly throws sixpence out of his carriage at the Oliver-esque urchins who live in the drains there even at times when it isn’t Christmas…God Bless Him And All Who Sail In Him )

    What would Tony Wilson say if he was still alive-alive-o…


    “Private health insurance is great unless you get terminal cancer but I seriously doubt that’ll happen to me.Long live Maggie’s Free market Economics.Have you seen my new BMW parked outside my Manchester Dock apartment the size of a small shoe shop have you then Ordinary Person.Capitalism’s great for me isn’it it..? ”

    And of course Somerset is well know as an urban jungle steaming with revolutionaries planning to overthrow the Public Schooled Tory government.

    John Mellor…cough…public school…cough…parents worked for the Foreign Office in the 50’s…very,very middle class…cough..dressed for dinner..cough..had servants in Egypt..cough…later became Joe Strummer…coughity..cough..knees up mother brown..cough..driven around The Bronx in a record company limo…cough..splutter..gasp..

    Luckily I’ve stuck to my principles..

    Like Mick Jones’ daughter.


    Pretty thing…when she keeps her gob closed.

    Otherwise you’d be tempted to ride her in the Grand National..


    See ya.

    D R Y B A B Y

    (and yeah I’ve got a screenshot for my blogs,well sorted so you can delete away Robbers..!!! )

  3. Hey John Robb, I wouldn’t consider The Fall or Joy Division Conservative at all, Mark E. is pretty left wing, he wroted for Thatcher one and deeply regretted it. Ian Curtis was accused of being a tory by his ex-wife…. his band mates have never confirmed it.

  4. There is a difference between the likes of Johnny Ramone and Frank Turner – Johnny never wrote left-wing leaning lyrics to sell records and con his fans.

  5. This “duallism” is reminiscient of Evangelicalism. God versus The Devil…is not Left Wing people versus Right Wing people.

    But “the left” have been responsible for some actions which have damaged the poor beyond measure. If you are poor and intelligent, it is likely that your education just won’t happen because the disruptive students in the classroom, stop all teaching and learning. The idealistic “left” who got rid of the grammar schools, now have stupidity to blame the teachers, when the reality is that some students really do need to leave school at 14 and get trained for a job, and again its the “left” that decreed that they stay until 17. Three years of anger and frustration for the non-academic. Three years of trying to learn while students scream abuse, hurl things etc for the academic. The “left” fucked up education from a position of such pure stupidity, that it beggars belief, and those who can afford to “buy” a quiet classroom for their kids, do so.

    Most frightening, is the way that the left have angered people into joining the BNP… By the loss of control of the borders from 1997 onwards, the fight for jobs and social housing, for those in the “under £25,000 pa” wage bracket, has been observed with glee by a BNP party all too happy to use the anxiety and anger as fuel for their own cause. The Labour party under Blair is partly to blame for the rise of the BNP, by their idealism, singing away to “Imagine there’s no countries.. I wonder if you can.. no need for greed or hunger..a brotherhood of man”… while the BNP got busy in the war-like atmosphere of the State secondary schools of the north. The Labour party grinned its hippy-grin, and the BNP made use of the fact that they were so out of touch with reality.. . This might be what Frank Turner means.

    Lastly, it is a “left wing mantra” that censorship is “bad”… Recently, a petition was given to the government to request that the Internet Service Providers, only let porn be seen to proven adults holding a credit card. At the moment, the main consumers of free internet porn, (it is claimed) are kids of 11 to 17. Porn does damage the minds of the young. The “Left” won’t accept this.. “Censorship is wrong” is the battle cry…and so again, you have the triumph of left wing idealism, over the realities of life.

    So how can we really define what is “left” wing anymore? The origins of socialism, with its strong roots in Methodist-chapel fire and brimstone preaching, had its feet on solid ground, and its moral absolutes improved life for the poor, beyond measure. But what have we got now, that claims to be “left?” Nothing like what it once was… Would the founding fathers and mothers even recognise it as Socialism? I doubt it.

    if Frank Turner is in rebellion “against the left” as your open letter implies, then surely he is allowed to look at this fake idealistic bullshit, (that claims to be “left”) and say “enough is enough.” isnt he?

  6. I remember a quote from Colin of Conflict saying [paraphrasing], “…the political right have phrased things in a way that if you don’t agree with them, you must be a liberal.”

    So is disagreeing with the political left tantamount to the same argument?

    Well, clearly those quotes were pretty partisan, but if there’s any scorn to be heaped it’s that -unimaginatively – a side was chosen without any reasonable circumspection.

    Let wing, right wing; patrician, pleb; conservative, liberal… same old bulls balls in a different sack.

  7. It is impossible to stick with the “Left Wing Versus Right Wing,” arguement that is your stand point, John, when the Left have made themselves so ridiculous and so narrow and so painfully lacking in the basic moral codes that identified it as Socialism…that to hold it up as “good” is to meander far far away from reality.

    What passes for “Left” is a sort of a “boys club” and the “Choir” are musicians who conform to whatever is going to put money in the bank. Fake rebellion has always sold tunes hasn’t it?… Fake rebellion supporting Fake Left Wing idealism has made many a muso rich.. and if Frank Turner has decided to question this, should he really be spoken to as if Grandma is angry with him for being a naughty boy?

  8. Perhaps John, for full disclosure, you ought to have mentioned in this ‘open letter’ that you’re a close personal friend of the Labour MP whose tweet “triggered” – and opens – the Guardian’s takedown piece in the first place? That would’ve been less disingenuous.

    • Thats a good point Chris but don’t assume everyone knows your interest in this (assuming you are that Chris T-T).

      For my part I’ll continue to enjoy Frank’s songs but disagree with some of his views. I’ve always been uncomfortable with his libertarianism but his songs aren’t overtly political, although I never liked ‘Sons of Liberty’. Its not news, however. I’d be more concerned if he was espousing racist or homophobic nonsense. Some of the comments quoted may have been out of context and some may have been mischievous but some are just daft.

      “I thought that if you had an acoustic guitar, it meant that you were a protest singer.” Mind you, look at the controversy that lyricist has caused …

    • Chris TT you snivelling wreck, John Robb writes the most lilly livered crticism of Eton douche bag, and you want ‘full disclosure’ ? you’re a joke

    (to the tune of Frank Turner\’s \’Thatcher Fucked The Kids\’ )

    Whatever happened to you, Frank?
    Are you sure you wouldn\’t rather have a job in a bank?
    \’Cos you sound like an elderly Telegraph commuter
    Moaning about the unions and the strikers on the 7.18!
    Now it seems you always thought that way
    But of course you wouldn\’t come right out and say
    You\’d have had no fans, no gigs, no nothing –
    and found your mates were rather few and far between….

    My boots are made for walking, no need to be scared
    But this song is a Doctor Marten aimed straight at your head
    And I\’m sure you\’re not surprised
    That you and me are on opposite sides
    I won\’t close my eyes to \’libertarian\’ lies and I say –
    Thatcher fucked Frank Turner!

    When you supported me that day
    My wife and I were really blown away
    You had guts and suss and energy
    And \’Thatcher Fucked The Kids\’ – an absolutely brilliant song.
    But it seems it was just a means to an end
    You fooled me and Robina and a load of our friends
    And now you\’re selling out Wembley
    You say you never meant that, you meant something else all along…..


    So burn a Frank Turner CD for me
    I mean burn the thing, quite literally
    I know that plastic makes a hell of a pong
    But I\’m not going to listen to a bloke who is this far wrong
    Frank, you say you\’re a \’libertarian\’
    That\’s all very well for an upper class \’Aryan\’
    But there are loads of people who are sick and poor
    And they would love it if \’the state\’ would \’interfere\’ a lot more…..

    Right now there isn\’t that much of a risk
    But in my kind of world you\’d be on Desert Island Discs
    And I don\’t mean Radio Four –
    I mean stuck on Rockall with a load of Phil Collins LPs…..
    Excuse me while I take the piss
    Cos people are suffering and we don\’t need this
    We need union solidarity
    We don\’t need Colonel Blimp in a pair of jeans!


    So, Frank:
    You say you’re young enough to be all pissed off but you’re old enough to be jaded.
    How old are you exactly?
    I\’ll tell you.



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