World's Oldest Record Store Bans Morrissey Album Because of His Politics

P. Gardner Goldsmith | May 24, 2019

The British political climate has become so toxic, and many on the left have become so puritanical and closed-minded, that the situation has come to…

The world’s oldest record store refusing to carry Morrissey’s new album "California Son".

Hold on. Context.

Morrissey is a well-known “Mancunian”, a term of endearment for natives or long-time residents of the storied city of Manchester, England. Smash-selling novelist Paul Finch worked for years on the Manchester PD. Musicians such as Davy Jones, Noel and Liam Gallagher, Mark E. Smith, Billy Duffy, Phil Lynott, and Johnny Marr either grew up in the industrial canal city, or they lived there long enough to earn the title “Mancunian.” And Morrissey is Johnny Marr’s old bandmate, from “The Smiths”, which they formed in their late teens.

But, whereas leftist media gatekeepers often have adored many musicians, and even Morrissey, for their creative digs on culture or war, Morrissey is now off the “okay with the inclusivity crowd” list.

Why? Because he’s been outspoken about British immigration policies, supported Brexit, supported the free speech rights of Tommy Robinson, and criticized radical Muslim violence towards people and animals. And, the final straw, he just wore a pin on television that made many on the “inclusive left” freak out.

As Ben Beaumont-Thomas writes for The Guardian:

Spillers Records, the world’s oldest record shop, has banned Morrissey albums from sale… The shop in Cardiff made the decision due to Morrissey’s support for the far-right political party For Britain, including wearing a badge with the party’s logo when performing on a US talk show this month.

The show was the May 13 edition of The Tonight Show, with Jimmy Fallon, and it’s likely that Mr. Fallon had no idea what the pin was about, or, if he did, he had no problem with Morrissey's expression on a stance.

But across the pond, it was a different matter, and so the dispassionate and “tolerant” minds behind the record store Spillers have decided to block his music from its customers.

Likewise, Merseytravel, the rail authority for many western cities in England, including Liverpool, just responded to one complaint from a rider who saw an advertising poster for Morrissey’s new release. Their action?

Ban the posters.

Do any of these people understand the Streisand Effect? Do they recall the effect that “banning” the Sex Pistols’ music had in the 1970s?

The music charts in England saw their single, “God Save the Queen” hit Number Two, hidden behind a “black bar”, and some say the song actually reached Number One, but was never acknowledged for doing so.

But this news lets British observers engage in more than bickering over Brexit or immigration policies and hoping that their vestigial freedom might be recognized by the authoritarians in London.

In fact, they can learn about freedom.

Because Spillers is a private business and Merseyrail isn’t.

As a private company, Spillers is free to stock what its owners want, to rise and fall based on whether they are catering to the likes of those who might freely give the store their money. Oddly, many collectivists on the left who praise the concept of free speech don’t recognize that by trying to regulate private businesses and tell them how to operate, they stand in opposition to the principle of free speech. And, on the flip-side, by pushing the idea that they have a right to control their own stores, left-leaning record shop owners are reaffirming the very concept of property ownership and control. Irony? Indeed. Hypocrisy? You be the judge.

And since Merseyrail is a government agency, it cannot reflect the interests of everyone. Its taxpayer funding means that it should reflect such interests, but this is impossible.

In fact, the difference between Merseyrail and Spillers is so stark that one can easily see the deep lesson to be learned.

With the private, market-based system, people have choices. They can go to stores that ban Morrisey if they like the ban, or they can frequent those that include Morrissey’s music, and both can exist if there are enough people willing to offer their business.

But if record stores were operated by the state, the way public rail systems often are (in the UK many rail lines were subcontracted to private interests, but the overall system is still controlled by the government), those choices would disappear, and the options would be dictated by politicians, rather than consumers.

Who knows what might be banned then?

Morrissey and The Smiths came out of Manchester after the punk explosion of the mid to late 1970s, but that non-conformist, creative, individualism of punk helped drive them to take the stage.

Morrissey still exercises his individuality and offers his strong opinions, as do people such as John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited, Ringo Starr, Noel Gallagher, and the take-no-prisoners lead singer of The Who, Roger Daltrey. Will Spillers ban their music, as well?

At what point of censorship do those kinds of "Spillers" Brits who claim to be tolerant deserve the label  “censorious?”

They’ve already reached it. But at least the free market they deride allows us to choose.

The big government they promote doesn’t.