I know there are people out there, strange people, for whom folk music is a foreign land. But for those of us who hear the Awen in the songs of the people Roy Bailey is a god, a bard of dissent, who sings the songs of protest, of the working folk and of the land. He was awarded an MBE for ‘Services to Folk Music’, and today he sent it back.
I don’t think he’ll mind me reproducing the letter on his web site…
AS A LIFE-LONG SUPPORTER OF THE LABOUR PARTY I AM SO APPALLED AT THE GOVERNMENT’S FOREIGN POLICY THAT I HAVE DECIDED TO RETURN THE MBE I WAS AWARDED FOR “SERVICES TO FOLK MUSIC”. I CAN THINK OF NO BETTER WAY, LAWFULLY, TO EXPRESS MY HORROR AND OPPOSITION TO OUR FAILURE TO CALL FOR AN IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE IN THE LEBANON AND TO OUR COMPLICITY WITH THE USA’S POLICY OF SUPPORTING ISRAEL’S ACTIONS IN PALESTINE.
TONY BLAIR’S SUPPORT FOR THESE POLICIES IS FOR ME A BETRAYAL OF ALL I TOOK THE LABOUR PARTY TO STAND FOR. THE DEATH AND DESTRUCTION ON ALL SIDES AND THE CHAOS IN BOTH IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN IS THE RESULT OF SUCH DECISIONS. THE PARLIAMENTARY PARTY AND THE CONSTITUENCY PARTIES, BY REMAINING SUPPORTIVE OF THESE POLICIES, ARE DISCREDITED AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED.
I AM NOT SO FOOLISH AS TO EXPECT ANY GOVERNMENT TO BE ABLE TO DELIVER ALL ITS MANIFESTO PROMISES. I UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THAT COMPROMISES HAVE TO BE MADE. HOWEVER, WHEN IT COMES TO WAGING AN ILLEGAL WAR IN IRAQ, THE KILLING OF INNOCENT PEOPLE IN AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ AND NOW, THE LEBANON, I CAN NO LONGER ACCEPT AS AN “HONOUR” A RECOMMENDATION SUPPORTED BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THAT I BE AWARDED THE MBE.
TONY BLAIR INSISTS HIS DECISIONS ARE IN SUPPORT OF DEMOCRACY. WE CANNOT BOMB PEOPLE INTO ACCEPTING DEMOCRACY ANY MORE THAN WE COULD SLAUGHTER PEOPLE INTO ACCEPTING CHRISTIANITY.
I UNDERSTAND MANY PEOPLE WITHIN THE FOLK MUSIC COMMUNITY HAVE APPLAUDED SUCH AWARDS AS A WELCOMED RECOGNITION FOLK MUSIC, DANCE AND SONG MAKES TO OUR COMMON CULTURE. I TRUST THEY WILL UNDERSTAND MY REASONS FOR NOW REJECTING AND RETURNING THAT AWARD.
There are so many things I could say, but right now I’m far too moved by his stand. My brightest blessings to Roy, a truly honourable man. I can only imagine how hard it is to return such a widely acknowledged accolade. As I sit here I can only recall one other person who has done so, and again me was a hero of mine, a musician and one appalled at another unjust war.