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Frank Turner: “What riled people was that I’m an economic liberal as well …”

I have been interested in Frank Turner, who is a popular singer, ever since he performed at the London Olympics opening ceremony, and a Labour MP got angry about that:

Turns out his libertarianism and belief in the power of the people to resist oppression aren’t of the leftist sort. They’re of the rightist sort.

Oh dear. Not allowed. Can’t be a popular pop singer and even think things like that, let alone say them.

And just now, things on the Frank Turner front are getting rather interesting. NME have done an intereview with him. The NME website reports:

“David Cameron is a twat,” he says. ” He carries himself with the attitude that he’s Prime Minister because he thinks he should be, which is a deeply unpleasant trait. I wouldn’t vote for that c**t. But I’m amused when people spout that ‘Nick Clegg stabbed me in the back’ stuff, because the Lib Dems have always been a deeply unprincipled mish-mash of unrealistic bullshit. They’re all politicians at the end of the day – so fuck ’em all.”

If that had been the only Frank Turner quote in this report worth requoting, that would have been today’s SQotD. But there is more. Turner also spoke about that Guardian piece (here‘s the link again):

The troubadour, who is set to release his fifth album ‘Tape Deck Heart’ on April 22, also spoke about his political beliefs, after apparently being “outed” by The Guardian as right wing last year. “That article was a misrepresentation of my politics, which are 100 per cent based in punk rock; freedom, independence, self-reliance and voluntary co-operation between people. Broadly speaking, I’m a classical liberal. What riled people was that I’m an economic liberal as well,” he said. Read the full interview with Frank Turner in this week’s NME.

Today, I intend to be doing exactly that.

21 comments to Frank Turner: “What riled people was that I’m an economic liberal as well …”

  • Dave

    I’m not sure why anyone was remotely surprised, his politics are a big part of his lyrics – ‘Sons of Liberty’ is an excellent place to start.

  • But I’m amused when people spout that ‘Nick Clegg stabbed me in the back’ stuff, because the Lib Dems have always…

    The whole “The Tory government being crap isn’t really their fault because of the coalition with the Lub Dems thing is just so lame, too. Guys, the fact that you are in the coalition with the Lib Dems is *entirely your fault*, because you couldn’t even beat Gordon Brown. An appropriate response to that election result from David Cameron should have been to resign as party leader because of his dismal failure at that election.

    Not that I believe a word of it anyway. Cameron is exactly the Prime Minister he would be even without the Lib Dems.

  • Paul Marks

    Michael – agreed (and I still owe you a drink – oh well perhaps in another life…).

    Good post about an interesting man.

    He has similar opinions (and speaks in a similar way) to Nick M.

    Has anyone seen them togther?

    Could they be the same person…….

  • manuel II paleologos

    Magic. I wrote to this site a while ago to draw your attention to the Guardian article you mention there. A voice for the irreverent South Park generation who understand instinctively that the fascists these days are often the ones in the Che Guevara t-shirts.

    Sons of Liberty – there’s a wonderful anthem to bloody-minded English free-loving folk. See also the song “Love, Ire And Song” which has a splendid dig at “the kids on the left, idiot f*cking hippies in 15 different factions trapped inside some kind of 60s battle re-enactment”, and an erudite call to the barricades “let’s be 1905, but not 1917”, and another “Once We Were Anarchists” along similar lines. It also took some guts to sing about “soulless corporate circus tents” at the Olympics opening ceremony.

    He’s been in the news a bit this week for his old song “Thatcher f*cked the kids”, but even that one is a bit more thoughtful than its title perhaps suggests, even if it probably isn’t a favourite of many Samizdatistas.

    Away from the politics, you’d struggle to see a more uplifting expression of the experience of losing a friend to disease than “Long Live The Queen”.

  • AndrewWS

    He’s also an Old Etonian and (iirc) a mate of Chris the Devil. That won’t help in the eyes of some people.

  • llamas

    Well, I’ll date myself here . . . .

    It’s often overlooked that the original punks (1975-1980) were, in the main, of a very strong libertarian bent. Johnny Rotten may have sung about ‘Anarchy in the UK’ – well, there’s no ‘may have’ about it, he did, I woz there – but listen to his words then and since and you realize that he’s actually all about the liberty of the individual and freedom from oppression – by anybody. Those guys were very pure – there was no compromise, if something wrong was being done to you, it was wrong no matter who was doing it. Good for this Frank Turner for acknowledging this oft-forgotten reality.

    But the name makes me smile, because a different Frank Turner is a well-known loser around here.




  • Frank

    Haha, well well, that was a surprise when my RSS feed popped my own name onto my screen. Nice to be here. I read Samizdata most every day. It’s not particularly easy having pro-liberty views in my trade (you should see the hate mail / death threats I got last year after the Guardian piece was published) but it makes life more interesting.

  • Sigivald

    100 per cent based in punk rock; freedom, independence, self-reliance and voluntary co-operation between people

    It’s good to remember (as llamas points out) that there at least was a non-Leftist/Authoritarian strain of punk rock. It seems to have, sadly, mostly been replaced by various forms of Leftist pseudo-rebellion.

    (I also don’t pay as much attention as I used to; maybe the voluntarist/DIY/non-authoritarian-and-not-plain-anarchist strain is reviving a bit?)

  • llamas

    A Star – in our Sandbox!

    I wonder who else that’s fameaux lurks here. Go on, show yourselves!

    (I am actually a retired granny in Surbiton. With two cats. Tabby cats.)



  • Anne Hegerty

    I’m a little bit famous, but only if you watch The Chase.

  • admin (abroad)

    As a Hampshire resident on rotation elsewhere on the planet at the moment, this revelation comforts me; I’ve had “England Keep My Bones” on daily play for about a fortnight.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Frank, this has made my day!

  • Midwesterner

    I never heard of Frank before this thread. While I was working this morning, I listened to this playlist several times through. What a treat this is. Sailor’s Boot works for me both literally and as a personal liberty metaphor. I replayed it several times in a row. As Dale Amon would say, “soon, space.” Watch the Wessex Boy video. I’ve become so inured to the derisive tradition and value bashing in all media that it took me a while to recognize what makes this video feel so different. There is nothing ridiculing in it. It is appreciative instead of contemptuous. Not a hint of the seemingly requisite schadenfreude and nihilism.

    One warning to anybody who hasn’t listened to his music yet. Beware of If I Ever Stray. Just stay away. Listen to it once and you may be okay. Listen to it twice and you are in danger. If you listen to it three times, you are lost. It is an extremely infectious earworm. I spent the last couple hours while shopping mouthing along to the soundtrack in my head. When I got home, I had to play it again to fill in some of the missing spots. First time through I thought I heard “wandered around like a drunken pharaoh”. Interesting mental image. Had to get home and listen again to sort that one out. 🙂

  • Carnwennan

    More power to your elbow Frank. It’s so nice to see a musician with fully baked opinions.

  • “He’s also an Old Etonian and (iirc) a mate of Chris the Devil.”

    Yes, indeed: Frank even mentioned me in an interview once.


  • I had no idea. I’m off to Google Play to buy an album or two…

  • Chip

    Musicians and actors are always cutting an edgy pose but the moment one says something that’s not conventional pap it’s shrieks of ‘Heresy!’ all round.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Of course the first song I previewed would be “Thatcher Fucked the Kids”…

  • manuel II paleologos

    Midwesterner – that’s good advice. Other tip is that on the album “Love, Ire And Song”, skip the first track “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous”, because it’s such a classic you’ll never get past it to the rest of the album as you will just have to keep repeating it. Get another round in at the bar, indeed.

    The one I showed my kids to entice them was “Try This At Home”, which has a great dig at preening rock stars – “if you’re so f*cking different, who cares what you have to say?”. It’s also a video which appears to be filmed in my favourite spot in the world in South Parks, Oxford. I once painted a crap watercolour there to send to my now wife. Did the job nicely – been married 20 years.

  • Nothing very surprising about a musician with a liberal bent – in my experience (practitioner) musicians outwith the subsidised sector tend to be self-helpers – in the Samuel Smiles rather than the troughing sense. Endorsements of leftie causes du jour from such people would seem to be either naive or hypocritical.