Apr 15, 2013

Billy Bragg on why he became a socialist

One of the main reasons Billy Bragg became a socialist was Margaret Thatcher. She inspired many to take up the fight against the policies that have been wrecking Britain.

Billy Bragg was a front line activist during the Thatcher years. In 1985 he formed Red Wedge - a musician's alliance that promoted socialist views and encouraged youth participation in the political process. After Thatcher's 1987 return to power, Bragg joined Charter 88 that was committed to reform in the British political system. 

Billy talks about the path he took during the Thatcher years:

And as a singer-songwriter who had grown up listening to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and The Clash, it seemed to me that my place was to be, you know, there on the picket line playing songs. And it was interesting, because it was a bit of an education for me, because I didn't—like I said, I didn't go to college, so I didn't know a huge amount about socialism. So it was a very steep learning curve. They wanted to know why this pop singer from London had come up to the coal fields, sitting up late at night on sofas with people, drinking cups of tea, smoking cigarettes, talking about politics. And so, yeah, I can tell you that my—the great inspiration in my politics was Margaret Thatcher. Were it not for her, I probably wouldn't be a socialist.

The Ding Dong song has been doing the rounds since Thatcher died. By way of a slightly different "tribute" here's a version of Maggie's Farm by Rage Against the Machine.