South Africa and anti-Apartheid in British popular culture before Mandela (1976-1983)

This post is partly inspired by my work on The Young Ones and the cultural depictions of the history of Thatcherite Britain. In the first episode, ‘Demolition’, which aired in late 1982, Rick and Neil have an argument over whether the vegetables in the meal were from South Africa (there was an international campaign for a boycott of South African produce at the time). Apartheid in South Africa was a hot topic amongst political activists in the UK, particularly from the mid-1970s onwards, after the Soweto uprising in 1976 and the death of activists Steve Biko in 1977, and the issue permeated through British popular culture, as demonstrated by this scene from this alternative comedy show.

In the wake of the Nelson Mandela’s death in December last year, some commentators reminded readers that Mandela was not always the focal point of anti-apartheid activism or a popular representation of the oppression of the apartheid regime outside of South Africa. As the online archive of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement outlined, awareness about Mandela’s imprisonment was raised by campaigns by the United Nations and the South African Sunday Post paper in the early 1980s and this had gained significant momentum by the mid-1980s. In the UK, the image of Mandela as the representative figure of the oppressive nature of Apartheid South Africa was bolstered by the 1984 hit by Jerry Dammers (from The Specials/Special AKA), ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.

But as Dorian Lynskey wrote, Mandela was not part of the popular conception of South Africa and apartheid before the mid-1980s. Lynskey stated:

It was Steve Biko, not Mandela, who became the first anti-apartheid icon. When the young leader of the radical black consciousness movement died in police custody in 1977, he inspired songs by the folksinger Tom Paxton, the prog-rock star Peter Hammill, the reggae artists Steel Pulse and Tappa Zukie, and, tardily but most famously, Peter Gabriel.

I am interested in how South Africa and apartheid was represented in British popular culture from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, when both British popular culture and South Africa were dramatically changing. In British popular culture, it was the rise and demise of punk and its surpassing by the various streams of post-punk, as well as the birth of alternative comedy. In South Africa, the 1976 Soweto uprising signified a change in the resistance to the apartheid regime inside the country, demonstrating that ordinary people were willing to undertake militant actions against the regime and regenerating the anti-apartheid forces outside the country. After Biko’s death in 1977, many Black Consciousness Movement followers joined the African National Congress in exile and swelled the resistance to the South African government.

From 1976 onwards, Soweto and Steve Biko became the main representations of South Africa in the British popular consciousness and were referred to in various ways. Paul Gilroy notes that during the Notting Hill riots in August 1976, a number of people involved chanted ‘Soweto, Soweto’ while confronting the police. Apparently ‘Soweto’ was a familiar cry at many demonstrations and episodes of public disorder in Britain during this period. An article in the Communist Party journal, Comment, in 1980 mentioned the chant of ‘Soweto, Soweto’ at a counter-demonstration against the National Front in London as well.

Most famously, Peter Gabriel recorded the song ‘Biko’ in 1980 as part of his Peter Gabriel III (or Melt), but Birmingham reggae band Steel Pulse also recorded ‘Biko’s Kindred Lament’ for their 1979 album Tribute to the Masters and Jamaican/UK reggae producer Tapper Zukie recorded a song in 1978 called ‘Tribute to Steve Biko’.

Punk figure Malcolm Maclaren released a single called ‘Soweto’ in 1983, while Afro-Caribbean-UK dub/fusion band Steel an’ Skin recorded a song ‘Fire in Soweto’ in 1979. Most interestingly, The Clash recorded a demo called ‘Where You Gonna Go (Soweto)’ during the London Calling sessions in 1979.

From a precursory glance, it seems that the Soweto uprising and the death of Steve Biko dominated popular conceptions in Britain of South Africa and the brutality of the apartheid regime in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The boycott of South African produce (one of the many ways that the Anti-Apartheid Movement strove to bring attention to what was occurring in South Africa to the British public) was also a reference point in British popular culture in the early 1980s. For example, in Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (first published in 1982), the protagonist recorded:

In afternoon did shopping in Sainsbury’s with my father. Saw Rick Lemon dithering at the fruit counter; he said selecting fruit was an ‘overtly political act’. He rejected South African apples, French golden delicious apples, Israeli oranges, Tunisian dates, and American grapefruits.

I think this changes with the focus of anti-apartheid activists on freeing Nelson Mandela, which was reinforced in the British popular imagination by the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ and the 70th birthday celebration in Wembley Stadium in 1988 (what Mark Perryman referred to as ‘the Mandela moment’).

So, I throw it over to you, connoisseurs of British popular culture – can you inform me of any other mentions of South Africa/Apartheid in British pop culture between circa 1976 and 1983 (songs, television, film)?



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Anti-communism across the Commonwealth


It had long been argued by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) that the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 was inspired by the Apartheid regime in South Africa, in particular the Suppression of Communism Act 1950 introduced by the Malan Government. In 2004, Justice Michael Kirby gave a paper at the University of Chicago in which he argued:

In the United States,… the Supreme Court had held up as valid the Smith Act which was in some ways similar to the Australian anti-communist legislation. It, in turn, had borrowed elements from a South African law which subsequently became the model for “suppression of terrorism” laws in a number of British colonies.

The Menzies government went into the December 1949 elections with the promise to ban the Communist Party if elected. Menzies had used the Crimes Act 1914 to ban the CPA during the Second World War (while the CPA was in its ‘imperialist war’ phase), but this ban was overturned by Labor’s John Curtin when he became Prime Minister in 1942.

The National Party under Malan had been elected in 1948 and in the subsequent years, had pushed through several pieces of legislation creating the Apartheid regime that existed until the early 1990s. The National Party had been concerned about the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) particularly since a widespread 1946 strike and there had been efforts by the United Party government to put the leaders of the CPSA on trial for sedition.

We know from documents at the National Archives of Australia that both the Menzies and Malan governments were developing similar legislation at the same time in 1950 – the Australian bill was introduced to Parliament in April 1950, while the South African bill was passed in June of the same year. Letters from the Australian High Commission in Cape Town show that the Malan government passed on the draft legislation to the Menzies government before the Dissolution Bill was introduced in Australian Parliament. The letter, dated 3 March, 1950, says:

The Union Government has made available for your strictly confidential information, a copy of the draft bill to combat Communism, which I am sending by today’s airbag. It has yet to receive the final approval of Cabinet.

The Union Government state they would seek particulars of any Australian Government measures directed to the same object.

I am yet to look through the non-digitised files in Canberra relating to the Dissolution Bill to see whether this South African connection is expanded upon further, and I have found the website of the South African National Archives impossible to navigate.

But I did find an interesting Commonwealth link in the newspaper of the CPSA, The Guardian. In an article dated February 16, 1950, the newspaper claimed that the National government was busy drafting an anti-communist bill, based on Canadian legislation and that ‘[s]imilar legislation is contemplated by Australia and by Southern Rhodesia’. The article explained that the legislation was based on the former section 98 of the Canadian Criminal Code which was repealed in 1936, but was used to harass the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) , various Trotskyist groups and trade unions after the Winnipeg strike of 1919. The article claimed that the Canadian government was considering re-enacting the legislation against the Labour-Progressive Party of Canada (the name of the reconstituted CPC between 1943 and 1959).

Similar to the CPA, the CPC had been banned under wartime restrictions in 1940, but unlike the CPA, this ban remained enforced through the war and early Cold War period. The remnants of the CPC formed the LPPC in 1943 to capitalise on the Soviet Union entering the war, which gave a boost to Communist Parties across the Western world, including the CPA and the CPSA.

The Guardian article went onto claim that ‘anti-Communist measures are being co-ordinated throughout the Commonwealth’ by MI5. This is interesting as it suggests that there was a clear anti-communist programme across the Commonwealth to ensure that the decolonisation process did not lead to communist subversion within the former British Empire and that the Dominions were entrusted with particular responsibility to crack down on communists throughout the Anglosphere. There are several documents in the National Archives in London (here and here for instance) which bolster this argument.

All of this suggests that both communism and anti-communism politics found useful links within the imperial network of the British Commonwealth, which is great for my project (and possible forthcoming project if the ARC feeling like giving me a DECRA). However it also seems that my project may have to cast an eye on the Communist Party of Canada at some point, which means more work for me!

Do any readers have any suggestions for reading material on the CPC?

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Review: Constructing Post-Imperial Britain by Jodi Burkett


My review of Constructing Post-Imperial Britain: Britishness, ‘Race’ and the Radical Left in the 1960s by Jodi Burkett (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) has just been published online by Contemporary British History journal. Here is the opening paragraph of my review:

Jodi Burkett’s book, Constructing Post-Imperial Britain: Britishness, ‘Race’ and the Radical Left in the 1960s, is a well-executed examination of the new social movements that arose in Britain in the post-war era, exploring how these movements related to the end of the British Empire and the emergence of a post-imperial Britain. Burkett looks at four different ‘single-issue’ organisations, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), the Northern Irish Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and the National Union of Students (NUS), who all acted as the focal point of wider social movements they sprung from—the peace movement, the anti-Apartheid movement, the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and the student movement, respectively. The book examines these four movements through the turbulent decade of the 1960s against a backdrop of great political, social and cultural shifts in British society, with Burkett focusing on one transformation in particular—the break-up of the British Empire and the establishment of a ‘multi-racial’ Commonwealth.

You find the rest of the review here. And you can purchase (or order for your library) the book here.

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The SACP and Czechoslovakia 1968


I have been in the Mayibuye Archives at the University of the Western Cape this week and found in the papers of Yusuf Dadoo a draft statement by the South African Communist Party on the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The draft statement began by declaring:

The Central Committee of the South African Communist Party fully supports the action taken in fraternal Czechoslovakia by the Socialist countries united in the Warsaw Pact in response to an appeal for help by Communist and progressive forces…

Today the imperialists seek through guile and cunning to achieve a change in the balance of power in Europe which has always historically threatened world war. In the interests of the revolutionary gains of the Czechoslovak people; the international working class and of peace in the world, the Socialist countries could not stand aside and allow these grave developments. (SACP, ‘Imperialist Counter-Offensive Halted in Czechoslovakia’, n.d., 2.4.7, Yusuf Dadoo Collection, Mayibuye Archives, University of the Western Cape)

A look at the 4th issue of African Communist from 1968 shows that the SACP embellished upon this draft statement with a long editorial justifying the invasion (pp. 5-15) and the inclusion of several statements of the SACP on the Czechoslovak ‘crisis’ over the previous few months (pp. 94-96). The justification for the invasion for the SACP was that this measure was necessary in the era of imperialist aggression to protect the gains of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and to prevent Western forces from reaching the borders of the Soviet Union. The editorial stated that events of August 1968:

must be viewed, above all, in relation to the central and overriding clash of our era – that between aggressive international imperialism on the one hand and the forces of socialism and human liberation on the other. Any estimate of those events which minimises or overlooks this great central issue must be one-sided or false… We must remember the geographic and strategic position of this country as a key-point for the security of the heartlands of socialism – and we must be acutely conscious of the whole international situation of rampant imperialist aggression on a global scale (pp. 6-7).

Recent works on the SACP indicate that not everyone in the Party supported the Soviet invasion, in particular there was a significant dispute between Ruth First and Joe Slovo, but the public face of the SACP was outwardly pro-Soviet.  The stance taken by the SACP is interesting because it is in stark contrast to the position taken by the two other Communist Parties that I have been studying, the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Communist Party of Australia. As Keith Laybourn noted, the Executive Committee of the CPGB issued a statement in September 1968, ‘deploring the intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia’ (p. 79). In the case of the CPA, Andy Blunden documents that the Party’s newspaper Tribune pronounced:

We cannot agree to the pre-emptive occupation of a country by another, on the alleged threat from outside, particularly when such action is taken without prior notification to the government and CP of Czechoslovakia. … It is hard to believe that [the Soviet leaders] realise the damage they cause to their own standing and the image of socialism throughout the world by acting in this way.

Looking at the parties that opposed the Soviet invasion (such as the CPGB and the CPA, as well as the French and Italian Communist Parties),  most of them were Western parties operating in a liberal democracy. The SACP noted the opposition by the CPGB, PCF and PCI, stating:

An indication of the exceptionally complicated and severe nature of the Czechoslovakian crisis is that this time the critics who have condemned the Soviet Union and her allies include even some of the leaderships of Communist Parties, especially in Western Europe, including Italy, France and Britain. We should make it clear at the outset, that we differ radically from the analysis made and the conclusions reached by the leaders of these Parties (p.6).

But the SACP seemed to argue that the Western European parties were arguing against the Soviet invasion from a privileged position:

If our comrades in Western Europe have discussed and made statements about this questions, so have our comrades in Vietnam, Korea, the United States, Cuba, the Middle East, Africa (p. 11).

I think this split between Communist Parties in Western liberal democracies and Communist Parties in less democratic conditions over the issue of Czechoslovakia may go back to the events of 1956 and the changes to the international communist movement. After the denunciation of the ‘crimes’ of the Stalin era by Khrushchev in 1956 and the Soviet invasion of Hungary in October 1956, Communist Parties across the world went into shock, with many suffering significant membership loss and debate spilling over into the public sphere. As I have written elsewhere on this blog, dissidents within the CPGB, such as E.P. Thompson, John Saville, Brian Pearce, Peter Fryer and Malcolm MacEwen (amongst others), sought channels outside the Party to denounce the actions of the Soviet Union, as well as the lack of internal debate within the Party. Rachel Calkin has shown that similar scenes occurred in the CPA. Although the leadership of both the CPGB and CPA supported the invasion of Hungary in October 1956, the backlash in these Parties fostered a much deeper debate about the role of the Soviet Union in the international communist movement. This debate bubbled away during the 1960s and mixed with the rise of the new social movements of the mid-to-late 1960s, I would argue that this created the conditions that allowed these Western Parties in 1968 to criticise the actions of the Soviets publicly.

On the other hand, the SACP had not undergone this public bloodletting in 1956 and a much more orthodox approach to the Soviet Union remained amongst the SACP leadership in 1968. I have been thinking that because the Communist Party of South Africa was banned in 1950 and the underground SACP was caught up in  a series of major struggles in the late 1950s, this caused those who chose to remain in the illegal Party to take a much more hardline (and orthodox Marxist-Leninist) outlook. Those in South Africa who probably would have formed the ‘new left’ and broke away from the CPSA were probably also unlikely to be involved in the underground SACP, which maintained a strict democratic centralist line. Under the Apartheid regime, it might be argued that the conditions were not available to develop a socialist humanist Marxism.


Although we do know that there was some dissent within (and around) the SACP over Hungary. A look at the letters page of the New Age journal (a proxy publication of the SACP) from late 1956 shows that some were willing to criticise the Soviet invasion, but were quickly retorted by the pro-Soviet journal editors. Raising the issue of the Suez invasion as well as Hungary (and the right of countries to self-determination), someone wrote to New Age rhetorically asking:

Could this be that a ‘police-action’ by Western states is to be condemned, but a similar action by a Socialist state is to be supported?

The editors of the journal replied:

In the case of Hungary, was it the Soviet troops or the counter-revolutionaries who prevented the Hungarian people from exercising their right to self-determination? Would Hungary under a right-wing government , and with a capitalist economic system, dependent on Western support for its existence, have been more independent than she is now?

This attitude was still in place in the SACP in 1968, but had faded somewhat in many other Western Communist Parties. Did the fact that the SACP had to go underground reinforce a Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy within the Party? Has this had a negative effect on the SACP since the 1960s? Any thoughts would be much appreciated!


Filed under 1956, 1968, Anti-apartheid, Archives, British far left, Communist Party of Australia, Communist Party of Great Britain, Communist Party of South Africa, Contemporary history, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, International communist movement, Joe Slovo, Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Research, Ruth First, South Africa, South African Communist Party

Another endorsement for our forthcoming book


Following on from the very nice endorsements that I blogged about last month, I thought I’d mention this wonderful endorsement we received from Imogen Tyler, author of the brilliant Revolting Subjects and the Social Abjection blog. Tyler writes:

This historical study examines the intertwining of ‘race’, gender and the body in the application of immigration controls in Britain since the 1970s. Drawing on research in British Government archives, Race, Gender and the Body in British Immigration Control begins with the shocking case of virginity testing of a 35 year old woman, who arrived at Heathrow Airport, London in 1979 to marry her fiance. Smith and Marmo unpick these obscene practices as symptomatic of the de-humanising treatment of migrants from the former colonies and the dense racialized, sexual politics of British border controls. Crucially, Smith and Marmo also explore the incredible resistance of South Asian women and anti-deportation activists against the discriminatory practices of the British state. This important new history of immigration control speaks directly to the contemporary situation of border securitisation in Britain and beyond. It will be of interest to, and will be widely read by all interested in migration, citizenship, human rights, post-colonial migration, and histories of resistance to unjust border controls.

We greatly thank Imogen for her kind words and if you haven’t already read Revolting Subjects, what are you waiting for?

And most importantly, you can pre-order our book here (order it for your library NOW!).

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CPSA and anti-colonialism beyond its borders

I have started my archival research in South Africa and am currently ploughing through the extensive collection of Jack and Ray Simons’ papers. One thing that is very noticeable, but not particularly surprising, is that the issue of ‘race’ and the relationship between black and white workers is present in almost every Communist Party of South Africa document. Compared with the documents of the Communist Parties of Great Britain and Australia, the CPSA seemed to be very aware of how the effects of ‘race’ and colonialism affected the labour movement in South Africa. The CPA did discuss Aboriginal rights and campaigned against the discrimination of Chinese migrants, but these issues were often relegated to the back and were peripeheral to the CPA’s main economic and political concerns. The CPGB also discussed issues of ‘race’ and colonialism (usually the ‘colour bar’ in the colonies) but once again, these ideas were not central to the CPGB, unlike the CPSA.

However, while the CPSA was very aware of the issues of ‘race’ and colonialism within South Africa, I haven’t seen a lot about anti-colonialism beyond its borders (yet). We know that the CPSA was an underground force in Southern Rhodesia and other British colonies in Southern/Eastern Africa in the 1940s and 1950s, but activism beyond the Union of South Africa is under-documented in the papers that I am currently looking at. (Obviously, once the SACP goes into exile in the 1960s, there is much more emphasis on the Party’s internationalism, especially in Africa)

This lack of internationalist anti-colonialism may be explained by the changes in the international communist movement through the Popular Front period. A number of scholars have argued that during the Popular Front era, anti-colonial activism by Communist Parties in the West was subsumed by broad-based anti-fascist work (although conflated in much of the contemporary communist literature as ‘anti-imperialism’), which meant co-operating, to a certain degree, with the pro-imperialist (yet anti-fascist) sections of the bourgeoisie. Some scholars, such as Neil Redfern (who focusses on the CPGB), have asserted that this shift in focus from anti-colonialism to anti-fascism was driven by directives by the Communist International, which changed with shifts in course with Soviet foreign policy. To some extent, Redfern’s arguments are true, but I think his dismissal of the CPGB’s actions as ‘Browderist’ is a bit much.

The reason I raise this is that I found a document from 1939 in the Simons’ papers that takes an alternative stance on the Comintern directing the international communist movement away from anti-colonial work. In a substantial document prepared for the CPSA’s 1939 conference, the Party stated:

It is true that the Party has committed a number of serious mistakes of a right character, such as, inactivity of a number of Party members, neglect in developing the National Liberation struggle which also is an anti-fascist struggle under semi-colonial conditions. It is also true that the Party has failed to carry out anti-fascist propaganda amongst the native and coloured masses, which has been interpreted by some comrades that it is the policy of the C.I. to tone down the colonial struggle, because of the possibility of Britain fighting on the side of the Soviet Union in a war against fascist aggression. At no time was it the policy of the C.I. to tone down the colonial struggle, this can clearly be seen [in] the struggles of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples in China, India, Palestine and South American Republics. What the C.I. did say was that the C.P. of South Africa should stop splitting hairs on the Independent Native republic which is the strategic slogan of the Party and which is the late stage in the Liberation struggle of this country. But comrades will realise that we have not as yet succeeded in [e]ven building an effective anti-Imperialist movement amongst the Africans nor has the class struggle and national struggle reach the stage that would make this slogan a rallying cry for acting and capture political power. To blame the C.I. for our weaknesses is going a bit too far and clearly shows the ideological trend of some comrades.

(Willie Kalk, ‘Annexure 1: Minutes of a Meeting of the CPSA, held in Johannesburg, Dec. 29th 1938 to Jan. 1st, 1939′, pp. 3-4, O13.1, Jack and Ray Simons Papers, University of Cape Town Special Collections)

Hopefully this is a sign that the archives here in South Africa will have a lot of useful material for my project!


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The Smiths and the Anti-Apartheid Movement: “You have incredibly good taste”

I’ve been wanting to write something about the new online archive of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and had been looking for some angle as a way in, inspired by Gavin Brown’s brilliant write-up on the archive’s material on the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group. And then I found this poster.


This is the poster for a benefit gig for the AAM held in December 1986 at the Brixton Academy. It may be unremarkable in the history of the AAM, but for Smiths fans, it is easily recognisable as the last ever Smiths live show. On the AAM archive, the poster is briefly described as thus:

Poster advertising a gig featuring The Smiths and The Fall to raise funds for the AAM at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 November 1986. The concert was one of a series organised by Artists Against Apartheid, formed by Jerry Dammers in April 1986. The concert was postponed because Johnny Marr was injured in a car accident and it was rescheduled at a different venue.

The importance of the gig is discussed on the excellent Smiths/Morrissey website Passions Just Like Mine, which describes the gig in much detail:

This concert, put together as a benefit for the Artists Against Apartheid, was originally due to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 November 1986 but it had to be rescheduled following Johnny’s car accident. It turned out to be the last time the Smiths were on stage together, bar a few television appearances. The gig was a much more personal and lively affair than the previous Brixton Academy concert in October when the tensions behind the scenes and the exhaustion of touring could not be hidden. There was a great complicity between the members of the band, nothing hinted that within a year the Smiths would be no more. During “Still Ill”, Johnny moved next to Andy and Morrissey joined them. They could be seen smiling and laughing, as if they were in on some inside joke.

What makes this gig even more special is that it turned out to be the only time songs like “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”, the upcoming single “Shoplifters Of The World Unite” and the “London”/”Miserable Lie” medley were ever performed by the Smiths. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” which hadn’t been played in a long time was also done. Finally, “William, It Was Really Nothing” and the live staple “Hand In Glove” which had been dropped on the recent British leg of the “The Queen Is Dead” tour also returned.

Mike teased the audience with the drum beat to “Panic” then Morrissey said hello before the band launched into “Bigmouth Strikes Again”. The latter song was again extended with a slightly longer intro. The audience was surprised to find that at the end of “London”, soon after the usual live change from “he really goes!” to “my God he goes!”, the band moved from the song’s bridge into the fast-paced outro to “Miserable Lie”. As they switched from the former to the latter, Morrissey wildly whipped the microphone cord in loops. Instead of singing “I’m just a country mile behind the world”, he returned to the early lyric “I’d run a hundred miles away from you”. The medley was extremely well received, the crowd roared in appreciation and Morrissey thanked them by saying “You have incredibly good taste…”

“Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” was the only song from “The Queen Is Dead” which had never been played live before. It was therefore performed here for the first and last time ever. Morrissey added an extra verse to it, it went “On the shop floor, there’s a calendar, as obvious as snow, as if we didn’t know”. This new verse and the song’s acoustic adaptation made it one of the highlights of the evening. Morrissey replied to the loud applause that number received by growling loudly “Hello!”. A few songs later, the soon to be released “Shoplifters Of The World Unite” was introduced with the announcement “This is our new single…”

After the latter song Morrissey picked a letter from the floor and placed it on the drum rise. He then picked a flower, crumpled it, threw it away, and placed another one inside his jacket, hugging it next to his heart before sending it back into the crowd. As was tradition at that point in time, he didn’t sing the repeated title chorus at the end of the crowd favourite “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. The singer acknowledged the audience’s unfamiliarity with the following song by following its performance with the introduction “Thank you, that song was called ‘Is It Really So Strange?’.” He reversed two lines at the beginning of it and sang “Oh yes you can me and you can kick me”. A line was wittily inverted in “Cemetry Gates” to “We stonely read the graves”. Morrissey also sang “They were born, they lived, they died” instead of the usual longer line. In “Panic” he highlighted the “hang the DJ” lyric by swinging a noose around.

Returning to the stage for the first of two encores Morrissey told the audience “Thank you, we love you” then launched into a roaring version of “The Queen Is Dead”. He waved a board around during the latter number, but instead of saying THE QUEEN IS DEAD like it did earlier in the year, the board now had the words TWO LIGHT ALES PLEASE on it. The man also made a slight lyric change in that number when he sang “hemmed in like a boar between arches” instead of “stuck like a boar between arches”. At this point fans started to climb on stage. There would be about a dozen of them making it up there throughout the two encores. After this first encore Morrissey threw his shirt into the crowd and the band left the stage again. They soon returned for a final two-song encore. Morrissey roared loudly “MORE!?”, paused a bit, then teasingly added “No?!”. Final song “Hand In Glove” ended with Morrissey wailing in a high pitched voice for about 20 seconds. No one knew this at the time, but with its final line “I’ll probably never see you again”, “Hand In Glove”, the band’s first ever release, couldn’t have been a better way of saying goodbye to their audience.

Tickets were £8, £7, £6 and £5.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can now watch the whole show online:

The performance of ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ (at 14.00) was eventually released on the ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ CD single in 1992.

So there you go, a great overlap of musical and political history!

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Filed under Anti-apartheid, British History, Contemporary history, Manchester, Morrissey, Pop music, Popular culture, South Africa, The Smiths, Youth culture