STEALING THE CLASH
Multi-millionaire Tory donor propagandist hiding in plain sight on Clash fans forum… until he gets rumbled and kicked off.
If you are one of the ten thousand members of an online community dedicated to The Clash you would expect to be in the company of like-minded people… So what the hell is a multi-millionaire financier and Tory Party donor doing spending hours of his time on one such social media group?
‘This shows us exactly what a sinister climate we live in now, wherein close political allies of the Prime Minster can infiltrate Social media groups – even in the case of the biggest Anti-Tory Rock’n’Roll group in history – and propagate to thousands of unknowing people’ says Richard Chorley, one of the moderators from the Clash On Parole Facebook Group. He tells us more after exhaustive research…
STEALING THE CLASH
Like most long term Clash fans in Britain, Boris Johnson’s supposedly casual reference to
The Clash being one of his two favourite bands came as a shock to me. Uttered as it was
as an allegedly off the cuff mark during a Tory Party political broadcast, it invoked in me
feelings of anger, followed by sadness at the fact that Joe was not around to respond to
the comment himself. I know for a solid fact that the rest of The Clash were furious at his
endorsement, particularly given that it came in a Tory broadcast. As a group, The Clash
stood against everything the Conservative Party represents, something clearly reflected in
Joe’s mighty lyrical canon and another solid fact known by all those who are close to the
surviving members. On the Friday evening, our friend Robin Banks issued a statement on
Facebook confirming this.
Robin said ”Johnson says The Clash are among his favourite bands!. Another obvious and
hypocritical lie. He stands for everything that The Clash so passionately fought against. Topper’s Dad actually heard this and immediately phoned his son, and was just as disgusted as Topper, myself and any other fan should be. All surviving members of the band hate this sick Tory slag and everything he represents”.
Mick Jones wrote the song ”Stay free” about Robin, who is his lifelong friend and close
confidante of all the Clash members. There is nobody more qualified in publicly confirming
what The Clash members think of Boris Johnson and the Tories.
We live in a cynical age wherein cultural appropriation for political means has become an
integral part of our culture. That said, for a man like Johnson to name drop The Clash in
such a broadcast has to be viewed with more than plain incredulity. Oasis and The Beatles
were essentially ‘pop’ groups when they indulged in conversations and photoshoots with
Harold Wilson and Tony Blair respectively. The idea that The Clash would ever indulge in
anything connected to the Tory party or Johnson individually is less likely than Jesus Christ
striding up the River Thames at the advent of a ‘second coming’.
My feelings of sad reflection on all this did not last long. As a member/moderator of a
Facebook group ‘The Clash on parole’, which contains almost 10,000 Clash fans, certain
immediate events within the fallout of Johnson’s statement, soon had me asking very
serious questions concerning its supposed spontaneity.
As threads opened virtually immediately on the COP site page and many Clash fans
exhibited anger and disgust, I noticed the contributions of a member named Peter Hall,
whose comments seemed to be implying that Johnson might well have been a genuine
Clash fan during the group’s heyday. The basis upon which Hall voiced such possibilities
were nonsensical. They revolved around the lame detail that Johnson had lived in the
Primrose Hill area during his youth, which was close to Camden and where the legendary
’16 Tons’ shows took place. However, as the debates raged, Peter Hall’s comments began
to evolve towards not only a personal admiration of Johnson personally, but as an outright
unofficial Conservative party political broadcast to Clash fans. When I later transcripted his
comments chronologically into one flowing statement, the way in which they morphed
organically into a singular propagandistic speech was indeed quite remarkable.
I subsequently recorded them in a satirical video piece. Prior to that and before I had even begun the transcription, I decided to track Peter Hall online. In the 1990s I worked as a freelance investigative Journalist, feeding stories and conducting in-depth research for the then Deputy Political Editor of The Daily Mirror.
During those years, I contributed to a number of major political stories and developed a
keen nose for detecting hidden ideology’s, contained within what might seem casual
statements from any particular individual. Before Peter Hall had even began overtly
espousing the virtues of the contemporary Conservative Party, my inner radar was sending
alert signals. Within five minutes of tracking him, those signals were going into overdrive.
After a sleepless night at the keyboard, I was left pondering not only the staggering nerve
displayed by Hall, but as to the reality of what his blatant infiltration ultimately represented.
In all of his comments, Hall never portrayed or identified himself as being anything more
than a supposedly genuine Clash fan who happened to be a Tory supporter. In retrospect,
I fully understand why he chose to do this and as to how Indeed, in upholding this
impression, much to my disdain and that of the majority of participants, his comments
sadly elicited a certain level of support from ‘Clash on parole’ members. These people
somehow seemed capable of balancing their alleged affections and respect for probably
the most anti-Tory band in rock history, with a declared intent of voting Conservative in the
The fact that people upholding such vivid conflicting loyalties responded to Hall, does not surprise me. The tone of his comments were both eloquent and confident, this immediately telling me he was a highly educated man, with the ability to articulate seemingly unbridgeable dichotomies with consummate ease. According to him, Conservatives ”can like The Clash and have the same ambitions for a more egalitarian and fairer society”. I can think of least a dozen of Joe’s most memorable lyric lines that render that concept to utter redundancy, but in our current Trumpian Brexit-driven climate, truth itself has been the single biggest casualty.
In his song ”Johnny Appleseed” written during his early ‘Mescaleros’,period Joe asked a
profound and prophetic question. ”Is what was true, no longer so?”In this case, the answer seemingly, is a deafening ”No”.
Peter Hall was far from a normal Clash fan who just happens to vote Tory. He is actually a
multi-millionaire Financier who was awarded an AM citation in the Australian Civil honours
list, for his ”services to the financial industry”. As a young man, his biggest influence was
his Uncle who worked for Rupert Murdoch. Joe Strummer’s were Woody Guthrie and Bob
Dylan. In one interview Hall stated ”I wanted to be Rupert.” His other major influence was
the American business tycoon Warren Buffet, one of the world’s wealthiest financial
investors with a fortune estimated at over $60bn. He is a graduate of Business studies at
Harvard University USA and also of St Paul’s College, University of Sydney. A Tory supporter? I should coco! He’s named on the Top 50 Tory financial donors list,
having gifted the party over £600,00. His company Hunter Hall, which he founded in 1993,
manages funds valued at over $1 billion.(Australian). Hall owns almost 50 per cent of the
In his financial career, Hall has sometimes been viewed as a somewhat controversial
figure, given his ‘maverick’ approach to certain investment structures and restrictions. His
biggest bet – possibly the most successful of his illustrious career has been an early stage
ASX listed global life-sciences company named Sirtex Medical, which he first bought at
$3.64 a share. He later sold 11 million of those shares at $10 a share, thus making well
over a $60m profit on that single deal alone. He has also been highly active in Australian
Gold Mining Company acquisitions. As a teenager Hall attended Bedales Public school in
England, the same school which Boris Johnson’s children attended. He now manages the
Bedales Grants Trust Fund. In 2006 he invested £200,000 on behalf of the fund, that
investment becoming worth £4.2m by 2017. He also owns the trendy Flat White Cafe and
The Milk Bar, both situated in the heart of Soho.
In reality, Peter Hall is a highly influential Conservative Party member, donor and high
echelons activist. He is a close friend and political champion of Boris Johnson. In fact, the
evidence suggests he has been one of Johnson’s greatest supporters for a very long time.
Under Tory rules, any donor gifting more than £50,000 is automatically granted
membership of ‘The Leaders Group’ a dining lobby vehicle, providing direct access to the
Prime Minister. In 2010, when Hall was admitted to that group, he caused a major row in
Tory circles when he publicly undermined David Cameron by stating publicly he believed
”Boris Johnson would make an ideal leader of the party.”. Despite his wealth and status,
Hall was forced to publicly apologise for this statement.
Let that sink in. Nine years ago Hall was a major voice concerning Johnson’s ambitions to
lead the Tory Party. His declaration of support for the idea of a Johnson premiership
displayed an utter disregard for protocol within ‘The Leaders Group’. Peter Hall is also the
lead Director of a prestigious Tory ‘ethical’ foundation entitled ‘The Conservative Animal
Welfare Foundation’. His fellow board members include Zac Goldsmith Conservative MP,
Theresa Villiers Conservative MP, Henry Smith Conservative MP, Sir Roger Honey and
various other Tory notables from England’s leafy shires. The foundation is funded by
various Tory grandees and associates of Hall’s.
The voting records of those Tory MP’s listed, are about as far away from the messages of
The Clash as is humanly possible. Look them up for yourself and try and equate them with
Joe Strummer’s lyrics. It’s an impossible exercise, but again what has truth got to do with
this regime and its most privileged acolytes?
Hall was involved in another highly controversial project in 2010, when he became CoDirector of Graylings Private University in London and invested £200,000 in start up costs for what was openly declared as a ”for profit” venture. The University came under major criticism from a host of renowned academic figures and institutions, when it was revealed Hall and his partner Anthony Grayling intended to charge students £18,000 a year, which was more than double that charged by London University. This for what experts assessed as the same standard of courses. Hall wanted his company to invest millions but was angered when his fellow Hunter Hall Directors rejected the idea. In response to the project, The University and College Union staged a major poll, asking more than 500 Professors whether an expansion of ”for profit” colleges would benefit higher education in the UK. 85 per cent of those questioned said they would lead to lower quality courses. 81 per cent, said such colleges would damage the UK’s reputation for higher education.
‘Career opportunities’ for sale, any takers?
In his online intervention in the ‘Clash on parole’ group, Peter Hall made not a single
mention of anything outlined here. As his comments evolved from vague assertions
regarding Paul Weller’s supposed intelligence levels into the aforementioned unofficial
party political broadcast on behalf of the Tory Party and Johnson, the vast, vast majority of
the 10,000 members of that Clash group could have had no remote idea what type of
person was actually making them. But we live in sinister, frightening times. The Clash as a
group and individually, remain as passionately opposed to the Tories and Tory ideology as
they ever were. But they were powerless to stop Johnson implanting into the mass public
consciousness, the concept of ‘Tory Clash fans’. Within a short time of that happening, a
multi-millionaire financier, with an international business portfolio and a long history of
committed support for Johnson saw fit to spend much of his day further enhancing that
concept, inside the biggest online group of Clash fans in the world. As a heavyweight Tory
donor and the frontman of a Conservative Party ‘ethical’ Foundation, this man was only too
happy to take Johnson’s concept and wield it into a series of statements, that absorbed
together leave one pondering in utter disbelief. This not only in his individual audacity, but
as to how we have ever managed to reach a collective point , where such preposterous
concepts could be presented seriously by anybody, as part of public political discourse.
According to Peter Hall, this Tory Government and Boris Johnson share the same visions
for our society as the members of The Clash. Johnson’s supposed belief in equal
opportunities and what Hall called ”self-actualisation”, are apparently direct reflections of
Joe Strummer’s social and political convictions. Anybody who would tell you different are
simply stuck in what Hall labels ”a 1970s Socialist dream world”. One COP member
responded by asking ”Which parallel universe does this Boris Johnson and his party reside
There is only one problem with such proclamations. They are gigantic, immoral,
completely disingenuous lies, as anybody who ever knew Joe will willingly testify. The
Clash were one of the finest cultural attributes this country could boast within the last 50
years and the spirit they embodied is a universe away from the powerful vested interests
that this Government patronises. Untold thousands of common people have died beneath
this Government’s reign. To purport that Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simenon and
Topper Headon would ever have anything but complete and utter contempt for the current
regime and it’s cruel, brutal policies is a vacuous, foul fabrication.
But that is where we are. As Dominic Cummings sits within the Downing Street bunker,
presiding over a similar online strategy to the one he devised for the Brexit ‘Vote Leave’
campaign, it appears that absolutely nothing is beyond exploitation. Cummings will stop at
nothing to seduce disgruntled Labour Leave voters into voting for the Tories.
Social media has become the contemporary political battlefield and he’ll identify rumps of such votes and target them relentlessly. Brexit has opened up our eyes to the enormous power of the internet and it seems as if we have now reached the absolute outer parameters of political morality. The holes in those outer fences are enormous. In fact they are not far away from collapsing completely. When people watch the video accompanying this piece and absorb the words of Peter Hall’s comments together, they should do so with what they have just read firmly in mind. Because when he made them, he deliberately obscured his true identity. Which constitutes in my view, a serious level of perception censorship.
When Peter Hall was removed from ‘Clash on parole’ , he reacted on his own Facebook
page, like an upmarket Tommy Robinson. He framed himself as a ‘martyr; by claiming that
this represented an attack on ”Free speech” and as a result of beliefs within the group that
”The Labour party and socialists own The Clash”. The facile, shallow essence of these
sentiments do nothing but further underline his surreptitious conduct. This is the type of
man who even when he gets caught red handed, will lie blatantly to conceal the levels of
his own duplicity. Remind you of anybody? American Alt-right strategy has now well and
truly permeated the political mainstream and Peter Hall provides a perfect example.
The Clash were far more than a normal rock’n’roll group. In the ultimate definition, they
and their music now constitute genuine cultural history. .Damned fine history at that.
Radical, humanitarian cultural history as part of a great British tradition we should all be
proud of. To see them used in such a cheap, scandalous way, by the British Tory Prime
Minister and his wealthy, posturing mouthpieces, is positively obscene.
An attack upon The Clash – one based in nothing other than cynical political manipulation – is not just an attack on the group and their fans. It’s an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on every single British person who believes there has to be a fairer and more decent way of approaching things.
It’s an attack on humanity and decency.
It’s an attack on honesty, ration and logic.
It’s an attack on the moral fibre of this nation..
”All the power’s in the hands of those rich enough to buy it” – Joe Strummer
Written by Richard Chorley ‘Clash on parole’ (C) copyright November 19th 2019
About the Author – Richard Chorley and The Clash (in his own words)
”You’ve just got out of prison. Prison is for freedom fighters and mugs. Get yourself a
guitar, learn to play and write some songs. Do something creative with your life, that’s my
advice”. Those words were spoken to me, at the age of 19 by the late and much lamented
Joe Strummer. They came as part of a conversation with Joe, backstage at the Electric
Ballroom on the 3rd February, 1980. That night The Clash played the first of two
electrifying gigs which have now passed into musical legend.
The shows were part of the ’16 Tons’ tour which showcased their masterpiece album
‘London Calling’, now hailed by critics as one of the greatest rock’n’roll albums ever
recorded. My conversation with Joe took place in a corner of The Clash dressing room, in
which Cook and Jones of the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, reggae legend Mikey Dread and US
Country artist Joe Ely were enjoying the pre-gig atmosphere along with the rest of The
Clash and their entourage. As a then seriously delinquent youth, who had spent much of
his teens in custodial institutions I was sat in this hallowed environment, courtesy of Mick
Jones the Clash guitarist and Joe’s songwriting partner. Following my release from a 3
year youth custody sentence, Mick had very kindly given me a red and black ‘Clash Tour
pass’ which allowed you full access free to all gigs, including admittance to the inner
sanctum of The Clash’s dressing room. A short while after Joe’s ‘pep talk’ I danced on the
Electric Ballroom stage next to Mikey Dread as he opened the show. A photograph of that
moment shows Joe wearing shades and also dancing, glancing over in my direction.
Stored in the ‘Getty images Clash archive, the photo embodies an experience which
literally changed my life. In terms of material objects, it remains as my proudest
Joe once said ”When you meet people who say you helped change their lives, it makes it
all worthwhile”. I’m very glad that as a much older person I was one of the people who
could confirm to Joe what affect he had on mine. The smile with which he reacted to my
words is another deeply cherished memory. You cannot buy stuff like this. There is no price
tag affixed to passionate sincerity.
Richard Chorley (C)