'I'm Not Interested in Nostalgia' the 25th Anniversary of the Miners' Strike Isbeing Commemorated by Billy Bragg with a Tour of Wales, the Nation Which Shaped His Political Ideologies. Gavin Allen Spoke to Him

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

'I'm Not Interested in Nostalgia' the 25th Anniversary of the Miners' Strike Isbeing Commemorated by Billy Bragg with a Tour of Wales, the Nation Which Shaped His Political Ideologies. Gavin Allen Spoke to Him


ILLY BRAGG believes that Britain needs to return to some of the values which were instilled during the past if the country is to improve. The punk/folk musician, famous for his protest songs, says the cult of "individualism" we are facing - or the feeling that we're not all pulling together - is at the root of today's political problems.

Bragg admits his own political ideologies were formed in Wales and tonight he returns here for the launch of a Welsh tour which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Miners' Strike.

"My entire political education came down to kipping on people's sofas during the Miners' Strike," says Bragg, whose tour will include venues in Blaenavon, Brecon and Caernarfon.

"I was born and raised in London and had experienced the cleansing fires of punk rock so I thought Joe Strummer and the Clash had invented the political song. But when I came to Wales I found people more steeped in the tradition. I had some vague ideas about racial politics and that sort of thing, but all my ideological politics were formed there." He's decided to return to Wales at this time because he wants to remind people through his music what it was really like during the dark days of 1984 and 1985 when the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher closed down the coal pits.

"I don't want anyone thinking: 'weren't those days great. We miss Margaret Thatcher'," he says of his decision to tour Wales.

But he admits that he's interested in the period prior to her coming to power in 1979 and says some of the values from back then could help Britain today.

"I am interested in the ideas that were around between 1948 and 1979, because they could be of value to us now," says 51-year-old Bragg.

"The problems we are facing now are down to the cult of individualism, the breakdown of the thinking that we are all in this together. Our parents and grandparents discovered at great cost that they couldn't solve the world's problems on their own and what their experience led them to do was to form the welfare state, where the rights of the individual were guaranteed by the collective. But over the last 30 years we have allowed society to drift towards the selfish individuals, and now it's even got as far as the House of Commons.

"It's a real disappointment because there are a lot of good people there (Parliament) for the right reasons, trying to affect fundamental change, and they will be tarred with the same brush as those who are there for their own benefits," he sighs.

"But I'm very concerned that in the

European elections this month voter apathy will allow people like the BNP to prosper. …

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