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Plan B Photographed In Skrewdriver T Shirt
The Quietus , July 22nd, 2012 05:18

Has Ill Manors rapper had an attack of the Morrisseys?

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As reported on Brian Whelan's excellent blog recently, UK rapper/neo-soul star Plan B was photographed last week wearing a T shirt bearing the band name Skrewdriver.

The picture was taken from the front cover of popular free title, Shortlist which has a circulation of over half a million copies a week.

The The Defamation Of Strickland Banks star was giving an interview to promote his new album and film (both called Ill Manors). The photoshoot took place immediately on his arrival at the studio, but it isn't made clear if the clothes belong to the rapper or were given to him by a stylist.

The T shirt appears to bear a picture of Nicky Crane, a violent Nazi skin who provided security for Skrewdriver and served several jail terms for racist assaults. Donaldson and Crane both fell out when the latter came out as gay towards the end of his life.

For many, the white power, bonehead band Skrewdriver represented the absolute nadir of popular music's interaction with the Fascist movement, given that their message was evangelical, unironic, violent, radical and, to a certain degree, popular. That singer Ian Stuart Donaldson died in a car crash in 1992, did nothing to hurt their standing worldwide among neo-Nazis.

The band however started as a non-politically aligned punk group in 1976 signed to Chiswick, and this incarnation of the group still has many fans internationally including J Mascis and Pink Eyes from Fucked Up. (Pink Eyes, aka Damian from Fucked Up, delivered a righteous screed on the subject of being a fan of the band's early recordings on the Guardian which is worth checking out.)

The interview with Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew aka Plan B is still viewable on the Shortlist website where you can clearly see he is wearing the neo-Nazi band top.

It seems highly unlikely that Plan B has accidentally revealed himself to be - or indeed is - a Nazi especially given his recent, left leaning and nuanced 'Ill Manors' single but it is ironic and doesn't help him any that during the interview he praises Tim Roth's acting in Made In Britain, Alan Clarke's 1982 film about racist skinheads.

He was asked: "Do you look at actors such as Winstone, Gary Oldman and Tim Roth and think, 'I’d like to be at that level in 20 years'?"

And replied: "Oh mate, Tim Roth in Made In Britain – f*cking amazing. In 20 years, I’d love to be at the level they’re at, but it depends how I look. Some people don’t age well for films. They lose that spark. Oldman’s still got it, Ray’s still got it. It all depends on what fate’s got in store for me."

Dan
Jul 22, 2012 9:24am

It was definitely Tim Roth, first major role he ever had. Gary Oldman played a thug in the firm.

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mrg
Jul 22, 2012 9:26am

[Gary Oldman, not Tim Roth as reported by Anti Facists Online, plays a bonehead neo-nazi in Mike Leigh's excellent Made In Britain film, Ed]

no, Made in Britain stars Tim Roth and further, is by Alan Clarke, not Mike Leigh.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084287/

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Reza
Jul 22, 2012 9:28am

Just to clarify it was Alan Clarke not Mike Leigh that directed 'Made in Britain'. Ta. Sorry to be a pedantic twat.

:)

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John Doran
Jul 22, 2012 9:31am

In reply to Reza:

Argh, apologies, I'm getting confused with Meantime... Will amend now.

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DA_WAGER
Jul 22, 2012 10:08am

So.
Tim Roth - Made in Britain - Alan Clarke
Gary Oldman - Meantime - Mike Leigh

Both quality films.

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 10:33am

What context is Ben wearing this? You'd have to be pretty narrow minded to think it was some sort of political allegiance to the far right. This is meant to get a reaction in the same way that the Manics used Castro's homophobia, and mass murderer and anti intellectualist Mao.

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 11:05am

In reply to Reza:

that's not pedantic twattery , that's getting it right

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Jul 22, 2012 11:07am

why is he wearing a neo nazi tshirt? why is plan B allowed to put his fascism nazi stuff into public arenas??

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John Doran
Jul 22, 2012 11:10am

In reply to pink guts:

He's wearing a t shirt that shows a guy primarily famous for beating up black people in public, one of the key figures in the neo nazi movement in the UK of the 1980s... in what way am I being narrow minded?

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Johnny Nothing
Jul 22, 2012 11:11am

The way I read the quote at the end is that he thought Tim Roth's acting in Made In Britain was excellent and that he Plan B aspires to being as well regarded an artist. An unfortunate series of events and I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt here.

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Johnny Nothing
Jul 22, 2012 11:15am

In reply to Johnny Nothing:

I mean, I think he doesn't realise what it is he's wearing.

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Sarah Louise
Jul 22, 2012 11:17am

Give it a rest love, talk about storm in a teacup....it's not a "Screwdriver band t shirt", it's a reproduction of a famous Gavin Watson documentary photograph, if it looks familiar it's because his photographs had a huge influence on Shane Meadows and "This is England".
Plan B is no more a neo-nazi than Shane Meadows or Gavin Watson, I doubt he even knew the origin of the image on his T Shirt, other than maybe knowing that Gavin Watson is a 'Hip' photographer to be into. I also doubt that his stylist took any notice of the graffiti on the background of this shot, and if she did, she sure as shit wouldnt have a clue that Screwdriver were some obscure proto-facist band from 30 years ago.
This is one step away from hipsters wearing Ramones Ts without ever hearing a Ramones tune. Shame on you Quietus for trying to make out that it's anything else and trying to whip up controversy by falsely claiming that the Tshirt is Screwdriver band merch. Moronic.

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Johnny Nothing
Jul 22, 2012 11:21am

In reply to Sarah Louise:

No, things like this need to be nipped in the bud. Skrewdriver were an abomination.

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 11:27am

In reply to John Doran:

Well I dont know what you think about the manic street preachers, bowie, pistols, the pop group, nick cave, joy division, lady gaga, etc, flirtations with fascism, so i cant answer that. All i am saying, is that you need top try to understand the context before passing judgement. To make a reactionary judgement is to do what Daily Mail readers do - condemn with out knowing. Plan B is one of our most articulate and relevant writers, lets see what he has to say about this -

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 11:29am

In reply to Sarah Louise:

Well said Sarah Louise

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Amy
Jul 22, 2012 11:36am

There are some good points made about artists using fascist imagery or other controversial iconography, but in my memory these are usually contextualized better. What we're looking at here is someone wearing a potentially triggering image in an interview where he says fuck a lot and talks about drinking loads of vodka red bull. And that he thinks a couple of films are good. It's not really the same.

I think it's safe to assume this was a stylist error. And take he opportunity to encourage people in public spheres to take a bit of thought over what they put on their backs.

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Johnny Nothing
Jul 22, 2012 11:37am

In reply to pink guts:

As I recall, all of those artists were taken to task about that. And rightly so.

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geoffrey
Jul 22, 2012 11:39am

I'm no Morrissey fan, but there's a world of difference between draping a Union Jack over your amp and droning on about 'Englishness', and wearing a t-shirt advertising Skrewdriver.

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Johnny Nothing
Jul 22, 2012 11:41am

In reply to geoffrey:

Thin end of a big and ugly wedge, sir.

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geoffrey
Jul 22, 2012 11:55am

In reply to Johnny Nothing:

There's a clear line between the two...

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 11:56am

In reply to Amy:

amy, i dont think they were contextualised better. if anything they were subject to 2nd rate intellectual sophistry and weak excuses from weak journalism - maybe plan B will open up a discussion that will enable us to reflect back on these mistkes

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Thumper
Jul 22, 2012 12:04pm

Think everyone's over -thinking this.
He's wearing the T the same way a 15 year old girl wears a Ramones shirt, cos he thinks it makes him look a bit "dangerous".
The Plastic Soul Plonker.

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geoffrey
Jul 22, 2012 12:05pm

'Flirting with Fascism' was and is all about bating liberal sensibilities. It did and does work a treat. You never hear people refusing to buy New Order records because they named themselves after a far-right magazine.

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Jul 22, 2012 12:06pm

In reply to Thumper:

Nail on head...

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Theo Adorno
Jul 22, 2012 12:09pm

Why hasn't the guy apologised? Who the fuck were Shortlist hiring as stylists? It's not like you can casually pick up a Skrewdriver t-shirt in Topman. FYI Nicky Crane never actually came out. He was 'outed' by the tabloids when he was dying of AIDS. After Crane died, Ian Stuart Donaldson attacked him for being gay, claiming he knew nothing of the man's sexuality or his career as a doorman for gay bars.

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Amy
Jul 22, 2012 12:10pm

In reply to pink guts:

You really think Plan B's going to "open up a discussion"? The pic was up for a long time before it got pulled. And was given no mention at all in the article. People have been asking all morning over all social channels for a comment from him, still nothing. This isn't the behaviour of someone trying to start a meaningful, intelligent conversation about the use of white power iconography, it's the behaviour of some people who have collectively made a colossal fuck up and whose PR teams haven't decided on the least damaging way to apologise for it yet.

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Lucia Lanigan
Jul 22, 2012 12:14pm

Sarah Louise: even I haven't heard of this 'famous' Gavin Watson documentary, and I'm well cosmopolitan. Yet Skrewdriver are 'obscure'? Even though the Gavin Watson (Google suggests) made his name photographing 80s skinheads, some of whom would have been their fans?! I guarantee the readers of Shortlist magazine will not recognise the imagery, beyond it being 'a skinhead' - an image most people still associate with racists.

We all know the fashion world is completely amoral and ignorant about politics. But if Plan B sticks on a t-shirt depicting a skinhead, without asking any questions, he’s responsible. He started out as a skinhead protest singer, right? And he knows his Billy Bragg, so he must know enough about 80s pop and politics to know what kind of baggage the imagery alone comes along with, let alone bloody Skrewdriver. He just made a big splash with a song about the riots and class rage, so tagging racist skinhead shite onto that is a gift to the BNP unless he puts the record absolutely straight right now. Even then, a certain amount of conspiracy theory-believing fuckheads of the BNP persuasion will still believe he’s *secretly* one of them, cause that's what they're like.
No one who's been threatened, or who knows anyone who's been threatened by racists could be blase about this.

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Thoe Adorno
Jul 22, 2012 12:20pm

In reply to Lucia Lanigan:

Read that last post back and count the number of times you trade off assumptions you numpty.

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 12:26pm

In reply to Amy:

well if that's true, why is everyone getting their knicker in a twist ?

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Lora Tadine
Jul 22, 2012 12:27pm

Let's get this straight: Skrewdriver's original line-up put out 1 half decent "working class punk" (i.e. left wing) album on Chiswick Records in 1977. That line-up split shortly afterwards, & everything released under the Skrewdriver monicker thereafter is, without exception, moronic extreme right wing propaganda.

Plan B is a fucking tool, as a quick viewing of clueless appearance on the BBC's recent John Cooper-Clarke documentary will confirm. And he should probably consider firing his P.A. a.s.a.p.

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 12:27pm

In reply to Amy:

in fact amy, i would go further and say. this is evidence of plan b's innocence, while all the others mentioned are guilty of playing with fire

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geoffrey
Jul 22, 2012 12:31pm

In reply to pink guts:

"...the Manics used Castro's homophobia..." Could you explain how they did this please? All this time I'd been thinking that they just thought they looked all 'Cool' and 'Power to the People' by being photographed with Castro.

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Thumper
Jul 22, 2012 12:31pm

Ah Jeez, still overdoing it...
He's just a stage school 'jack of all trades' who quite fancies himself as the next in line of jobbing, English working-class hard men to earn him his house in the country for the rest of his days.
He's spotted a gap in the market and he's trying to fill it whether it's being typecast as a toe curling patois tinged rudeboy in gangster films or pandering to what style of music his label want him to make this week to keep him on the MTV roll call, but he's clearly no more sussed on politics or morality than a ten year old kid wearing a Malcolm X baseball cap, it's all about the designer imagery here 100%, get me bruv?
The only debate he'll be 'opening up' about this little tale will be with his management team & A&R on how to turn this spike of publicity into something he can shift a few units from, Modern life really IS rubbish eh?

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Amy
Jul 22, 2012 12:45pm

In reply to pink guts:

Hey, no drama. My knickers are definitely untwisted (checked), I just think Plan B's a bit of a tit with a bad stylist. Have you read the actual interview? What an arse. That said, we grown ups all know ignorance is no excuse. All the pseudo-hard-boy posturing in the world doesn't take away from it. Just goes to show he's about as 'real' as a cheese string.

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Amy
Jul 22, 2012 12:47pm

In reply to Thumper:

I fancy you a little bit for that comment. Bang on x

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John Doran
Jul 22, 2012 1:01pm

In reply to Sarah Louise:

Except we haven't done any of these things. Try reading the thing again and then getting back to me.

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Jul 22, 2012 1:22pm

In reply to Thoe Adorno:

Thoe, if you object to any of those assumptions do tell which ones and why, eh?

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Theo Adorno
Jul 22, 2012 1:33pm

In reply to :

I agree with your basic anti-fascist principles but suggestions such as "skinhead - an image most people still associate with racists" and "We all know the fashion world is completely amoral and ignorant about politics" are just absurd.

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Barton Greenland
Jul 22, 2012 1:40pm

In reply to John Doran:

Sarah Louise wrongly implied the Quietus referred to the t-shirt as band merchandise. You did nothing of the sort. And I can see why this is an interesting debate, one that will get a lot of hits, and therefore why you'd run it. But Sarah's right about the imagery thing: Unless Plan B actually says he's racist, or you can prove it through his actions, you should leave the guy alone, since there's a lot more going on in a series of images than simply advocating the views of the people depicted in them. If he was wearing an Eminem t-shirt, would we be having this debate? After all, he says some pretty appalling things about homosexuals and women in his songs. Or GG Allin, whose work consisted of not just inciting, but enacting violence (usually against women)? Or Celine, who besides writing Journey to the End of the Night, wrote many reams of bigoted toss? How would it be any different if Plan B wore a t-shirt with images of these people?

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John Doran
Jul 22, 2012 1:50pm

In reply to Barton Greenland:

We haven't called him racist! We've said that he almost certainly isn't racist! If you're not going to read the piece properly then how can I discuss it with you? And it would be different because Eminem was not the recruiting arm of several prominent, violent, radical misogynist organizations responsible for countless organized attacks on women in their homes and on the streets.

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Lucia Lanigan
Jul 22, 2012 2:19pm

In reply to Theo Adorno:

Cheers Theo, but I strongly disagree with you on those two points. (just to clarify: by 'skinhead' I don't mean people with shaved heads, but people with the whole style. I think racism's always an association now, which is a shame cause it was a good look.)

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Jamie Thomson
Jul 22, 2012 2:23pm

In reply to John Doran:

This seems to be the original picture - http://a1.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/121/a252ed0739c84ba28a7fe166a82e0bdc/l.jpg - from Gavin Watson's book Skins. It if is indeed Nicky Crane, perhaps the shirt-maker was making a comment about hidden depths/dual identities/nazis dying of Aids/whatever. It certainly isn't a 'Skrewdriver' T-shirt, though.

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Craig Wood
Jul 22, 2012 2:44pm

In reply to Barton Greenland:

The front page link certainly implies it. "Plan B Photographed in Skrewdriver T Shirt" I quote.

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sixandsix
Jul 22, 2012 2:50pm

In reply to Lucia Lanigan:

This is still wrong though Lucia. In reality there has always been a diversity of political currents within skinhead subcultures. It's correct to say that among people with no understanding of or connection to skinhead cultures it is common to make an equation with the fascism, but this is just ignorant generalisation. Concurrent with the growth of the white power skinhead phenomenon there was also a strong current that was vehemently antifascist. Many antifascist skins were (and are) active in militant opposition to fascist mobilisation. Skinheads = Neonazis is just bullshit I'm afraid.

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Lucia Lanigan
Jul 22, 2012 3:16pm

In reply to sixandsix:

Totally agree, sixandsix, but my point is that "people with no understanding of or connection to skinhead cultures" = the vast majority of people. Shortlist readers aren't going to see that image of a skin in front of 'Skrewdriver' graffiti and think, "I bet he's one of those antifascist/gay/hipster skins I know so much about"; they're going to think it's a racist skinhead. And as Plan B didn't spend that interview explaining that he's trying to reclaim skinhead culture from the old racists, those readers are going to wonder why he's aligning himself with that shit.

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Stewart Smith
Jul 22, 2012 3:34pm

In reply to Jamie Thomson:

It might not be official Skrewdriver merch but it clearly says Skrewdriver on it, so I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask Plan B and his people what they were thinking. The fashion world does have a habit of using 'edgy' imagery without actually bothering to think about what it means. Take the recent case of a high street retailer selling SS Death's Head t-shirts. Oh dear...

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sixandsix
Jul 22, 2012 3:51pm

In reply to Lucia Lanigan:

Ha, yeah you're right on that of course. I'm sure he's just been styled that way for edgy retro appeal with no regard for such subtleties as what Skrewdriver represent to people, let alone with some kind of oblique, subversive reappropriation in mind. I agree with your basic point. Just felt that "if Plan B sticks on a t-shirt depicting a skinhead, without asking any questions, he’s responsible" might be participating in stereotype that common stereotype about skins as much as flagging it up. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it's worth noting as part of discussions like this - where some people are going to be bringing those preconceptions to the table - that lefty skins have a history of political action to be proud of.

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pink guts
Jul 22, 2012 4:06pm

In reply to Stewart Smith:

so does the pop and rock world, more so than the fashion world i would say - so stick that in your pipe and smoke it

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sixandsix
Jul 22, 2012 4:47pm

In reply to pink guts:

The Pop Group flirted with fascism? Hadn't heard that. In what way?

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Barton Greenland
Jul 22, 2012 6:56pm

In reply to John Doran:

Sorry for the confusion, I wasn't saying you called him racist. But other people here have, or said that it's somehow beyond the pale, etc. Maybe, for them. I'm not so sure. What I was saying was, it's an image associated with a movement which is (correctly) maligned. But people's revulsion for one horrid movement doesn't seem to be based on clear thinking; more like following a prescribed notion of what is and isn't acceptable based on cultural norms; telling them that racism and neo-Nazism in the modern context are the worst of the worst. Well, they're terrible. But the point I'm making is, there are plenty other artists and movements which have advocated similarly awful ideologies, or (in the case of GG Allin) gone straight ahead and acted upon them. That outrage is fine as long as it's applied across the board, but it isn't. It's putting one wing of hatemongering on a pedestal and forgetting about the rest. Why so? It can only be because society has told us that contemporary, race-based movements are the ultimate faux pas, when in fact they're no worse than other movements which have preached hate, but which aren't as maligned. So start burning your Celine books, and stop laughing at the videos of GG Allin on Jerry Springer too, is all I'm saying. But even then, someone could wear a picture of a cartoon of Allah on their t-shirt and be accused of misogyny and the promotion of other vile things promoted in the Qu'ran. And that applies to all religions too. Where do we stop? Unless Plan B is explicitly aligning himself with the ideology of that guy on the t-shirt, let's just say an image is an image, because otherwise we'll righteous the hell out of every cultural figure besides Ghandi. But wait, Ghandi supported the vile and repressive caste system, so we can't have a t-shirt with him on it either. You see what I mean? Let's just knock it on the head, go see his film and criticise him for that(Plan B, not Ghandi.

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AndrewK
Jul 22, 2012 8:02pm

In reply to Barton Greenland:

What Skrewdriver represents is not ambiguous. It's ironic that you suggested images of Allah since I would interpret an image of Allah as either Islamophobic or pro-freedom-of-speech depending what the images associated with. Just as this Skrewdriver shirt is associate with unambiguously nasty character.

There is one other problem with what you're saying. Facists and Racist rarely align themselves directly with their cause. Keep in mind that the Klu-Klux-Klan traditionally runs around wearing masks. Facists use dog whistles all the time.

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Barton Greenland
Jul 22, 2012 10:56pm

In reply to AndrewK:

What I object to is a bunch of people claiming they know, 'unambiguously', what an image means. Sure, Skrewdriver channeled racist messages into their songs. But what's not to say that one could wear a Skrewdriver t-shirt because they liked the image, for the image's sake, because they like the look of a skinhead guy in front of a graffiti'd wall? Well, that's what Plan B says, and I'd say he's sincere.

Also, nobody has addressed this: Would anyone object to a t-shirt with an image of Louis-Ferdinand Celine on it? Apt comparison with Skrewdriver, actually: after his non-political (or non-racist anyway) debut work, he went on to create xenophobic bilge. Where do you stand?

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Gary Raine
Jul 24, 2012 7:45am

He had a Gavin Watson T-shirt (with Skrewdriver wrting on it) for the second half of his show supporting the Stone Roses at Heaton Park. I'd put it down to 'Motorhead t-shirts in Top Man', he's more than likely oblivious to who Skrewdriver were.

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Steven Goodman
Aug 13, 2012 1:41pm

Hi folks let me teach you a few facts of life...cos you all live in a bubble and have no clue what is happening in the real world....In movie terms you are just the Batteries that drive the matrix...god bless neo a true anarchist. Any way let me enlighten you... Skrewdriver and the rise of the neo-nazis was a purely media driven invention if they had not had the expose that were prelevant in the late seventies and early eighties the movement would have dissapeared out of disintrest. The media made it a fad...that has become a world wide menace...I won't get into details here...but you are welcome to email me if you are interested in the truth..... My point is the wearing of a t-shirt with a bit of graffitti on it is not a sin...its the bastards on fleet street that TURN It into a major issue are doing more for the positive promotion of the right wing than the lead singer of PLAN B.... I've already sussed him as a fellow multi-culturalist who is ready to stand up to the forces leveled against us... I feel The establishment are having a dig at him using the the media for the gritty "Ill manors" video they had produced Check it out on you tube and you'll know what I mean PLAN B have something to say that scares the establishment and this expose is nothing more than a cheap charecter assasination attempt.

Steve Goodman Author of the skinhead/punk novel "England belongs to me".

Email me stevengoodman@punkyreggaeradio.co.uk (Peace and love - Cool runnings).

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Ross Hoodies
Oct 16, 2012 2:01am

I think the t-shirt wearing was not in any way, intentional. Either someone gave it to him to wear for that particular photoshoot that day or he didn't even notice anything that is so obvious and could easily be a hot topic to be discussed about and turn out to be so controversial. And furthermore, the word 'skrewdriver' was not even the main focus of the t-shirt, the boy was. Perhaps that is the reason why Plan-B didn't see it to be holding any specific meaning whatsoever. As for his comments regarding the actors, he was answering in a general context. He wants to be given opportunities to act like how the actors are getting roles right now, he wasn't directing his responses to any particular actor or the way the actor behaves.
http://www.myshirtshack.co.uk

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Frans Tamio
Aug 23, 2013 9:01pm

In reply to John Doran:

What context is Ben wearing this? You'd have to be pretty narrow minded to think it was some sort of political allegiance to the far right

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