But is “This Charming Man” right for the city?
London’s upcoming mayoral elections may be about to get a new candidate—a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey. According to a statement released online Friday, the 56-year-old singer and former Smiths frontman is seriously considering a run for London mayor, as a candidate for the Animal Welfare Party.
As the party’s name (and a knowledge of Morrissey’s personal bugbears) suggests, the prevention of cruelty to animals would be issue number one in the singer’s manifesto. In the statement outlining his reasons for considering a campaign, Morrissey deplored both slaughter for meat and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He also didn’t hold back from having a dig at Britain’s royal family, using the original family name they used before changing over to Windsor during World War I:
“Social justice for animals is not much to demand, because we are only asking humans to think rationally and with heart, even if being unable to hunt foxes and shoot birds would leave the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family with nothing else to do.”
Though he’s more associated with his hometown of Manchester and doesn’t currently live in the city, Morrissey becoming London’s mayor is still an intriguing (albeit entirely improbable) idea for fans. So what would the city actually be like under his rule?
Judging by his back catalog, it might possibly be a place where meat and the royal family were banned, but where shoplifters and hooligans were given an easy ride. The city could become a place where schools were encouraged to be liberal, socially pressured drug-taking was treated with understanding, and dead-end jobs that got in the way of hedonism were actively discouraged.
If that doesn’t sound so bad, rest assured that everything would still be somehow less magical and real than it was in the old days, every old neighborhood to be shunned for its excruciating bittersweet memories. What’s more, public transit safety might be an issue, with lovers under permanent risk of being mown down by a bus.
The truth is, Morrissey is probably a little out of touch with life in modern London. In 2007, the singer was involved in a massive row over comments reported by NME, which he claimed entirely misrepresented him, apparently deploring the dilution of British identity by immigration. The NME subsequently apologized, but later comments of his praising the leader of the Tea Party-esque U.K. Independence Party, whose popularity in London trails far behind its successes nationally, suggests he isn’t entirely in tune with the contemporary city.
The fact that Morrissey would probably be a terrible fit for London in some ways confirms the nostalgic sadness of his music. Nothing, it seems, is ever quite as good as it was in the golden days of memory. Not even Morrissey.