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Punks for Thatcher

“Saturday Night Live” takes the mickey (below), but there were a few punks who adored Mrs. T., or at least who voted Tory, ironically or not. Deborah Curtis, widow of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, recalled that he not only voted for Thatcher’s party himself in ’79 but insisted that she do so, too, since he wasn’t about to let his wife “cancel out” his vote. The tale is told in her memoir Touching From a Distance. Joy Division was more post-punk by then, but the band had initially formed after meeting at, and being inspired by, a shambolic Sex Pistols concert at the Manchester Free Trade Hall.

(Speaking of Manchester and free trade: one of my favorite scenes from the film “24 Hour Party People,” about Curtis’s band and their Factory Records labelmates, is an outtake where Factory impresario Tony Wilson tries to convince a superannuated patron to let him present the Sex Pistols on Granada television. “They have songs about the queen?” the old man asks. “Yes,” says Wilson, “the queen…and anarchy.” “Nothing wrong with a bit of anarchy,” says the old Manchester liberal.)

about the author

Daniel McCarthy is editor at large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, The National Interest, Reason, Modern Age, and many other publications. Outside of journalism he has worked as internet communications coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign and as senior editor of ISI Books. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied classics. Follow him on Twitter.

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