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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 [1] 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 [2]. 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 [3],” 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 [4].)

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8 Comments To "Punks for Thatcher"

#1 Comment By Jim On April 15, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

Joy Division in the conservative blogosphere? This is the best thing that has every happened….ever.

Seriously, go check out ‘Transmission’ and tell me you don’t like it.

#2 Comment By Scott Lahti On April 16, 2013 @ 4:18 am

Speaking of punks and Thatcher, you get them both in Rude Boy, the fictional Clash documentary from 1980, autocued YouTube clips to suit:


Joe Strummer, Road Runner legs awhirl in the recording studio, [6] to “All the Young Punks”

#3 Comment By Gus On April 16, 2013 @ 9:17 am

So the headline should maybe read “a single kind of post-punk for Thatcher.”

#4 Comment By Anderson On April 16, 2013 @ 9:44 am

“There’s no such thing as society” sounds like a perfectly good Sex Pistols lyric.

#5 Comment By James Pagan On April 16, 2013 @ 11:43 am

New Wave rocker Gary Numan publicly expressed admiration for Mrs. T., which did nothing to improve his low standing with the anti-Thatcher British music press.

#6 Comment By Jim On April 16, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

@James Pagan

I believe Numan later expressed his regret for supporting her. Either way, it was quite brave of him to support her at the time.

#7 Comment By Austin Rebreh On April 16, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

Ian Curtis was a conservative but whenever a liberal candidate stopped at his house Curtis would listen to his plans and tell said candidate that he would vote for them. He didn’t, his wife theorized that Curtis was just too nice to tell them.

#8 Comment By David Jonas On October 6, 2014 @ 1:23 am

I thought Ian Curtis and early Joy Division were fascists? I recall during a live performance one of the band members asking: “Have you all forgotten Rudolf Hess?”