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T Do you watch much TV then?
Um, well selective viewing. I find it hard with some programmes, like Fragile Earth, because I know there is going to be a scene that haunts me for the rest of the week. Very rarely can you watch them and not be repulsed. You generally always see some poor defenceless animal being hounded and shot, or a baby elephant being left to die. People should know what's going on though and they should see the pain and suffering that their diet causes.

T What about soaps?

I think programmes like Coronation Street, Brookside and EastEnders do influence people's attitudes. It is infuriating that they cover a vast cross section of society and yet not a vegetarian in sight. Coronation Street had one young person in it, Terry Duckworth, who worked in an abattoir. Also a young female came into it briefly and when she went to the Job Centre, she was offered a job in an abattoir. I found this painstakingly stupid.

T Don't you think Coronation Street reflects the very northern Manchester principles in which there aren't many vegetarian ideals?

No. Unfortunately the script writer, director and programme planners are not young shall we say. They have been there for a very long time and the scripts reflect that situation, so I think the very notion of somebody who opposes Betty Turpins hot pot is a bit too radical!

Apart from the lack of vegetarians, do you like the soaps?
Well, there is a lack of many other social and political issues which infuriates me. But generally I find it moderately good escapism; it's all very silly.

How important do you think politics should be in people's lives?
You have to be interested in politics these days. You have to be attuned to what's happening, there's so much at stake. The future of our planet is at stake.

T Do you think that Thatcher cares about the environment as she now says she does?

No - it was simply seizing the moment to say something that she knew was overdue. Unfortunately, because most newspapers are behind her, they promoted her speech in a very over-blown way; but I can't believe at this stage that she cares at all.

Her entire history is one of violence, oppression and horror. Margaret Thatcher is completely destructive - and she has certainly helped enormously towards the destruction of our planet.

Does violence have to be met by violence?
Yes it does. That's the tragedy. That's the massive tragedy of all these issues. It has to be because the present government can only think in violent terms.

T Have you ever made contact with Thatcher?

Well we had a sauna the other night(!!) -- no, I haven't.

Do you support Green politics?
Yes I do. It's a shame that the Green Party isn't strong enough to truly support, because at the moment I'm still of the frame of mind that the party to back is the one that is the most threat to Margaret Thatcher.

greenscene-moz.jpg (12026 bytes)
(Sefton Photo Library)

T So you'd vote Labour.

T What do you feel about the
Animal Liberation Front?
I feel incredibly supportive towards them.

T Even when...

Even when!

I find any kind of peaceful demonstration to be useless. You get absolutely no media coverage, millions of people can march but it's pointless when we are discussing a very violent industry. I mean it's murder, it's ritualised slaughter, and you can't simply pass leaflets round and hope that that's going to weigh up the balance.

Do you think that people in your position do enough to help animals?
Some do, some don't.

You've made an enormous contribution to animal rights most noticeably with your song "Meat is Murder". It’s by far the most moving and powerful record that I've ever heard. How many people do you think turned vegetarian because of it?
Thousands upon thousands of people wrote to me saying that because of the record they became vegetarian, and it was number one in the British charts which I think brought the whole issue into an area where it never existed before.

Do you think then that music is a good medium to use to get over human and animal rights issues?
It's very good, but you have to be careful - because just as the public can be inspired they can also begin to yawn at the very notion of yet another song for a cause.

Do you ever do concerts where you give the proceeds to a cause?
Yes, twice. Also, on tour in America - the Smiths invited local animal rights groups to set up stalls in the foyer of the venue, which had a great effect.

T Do you feel that now you've made your statement with 'Meat is Murder' that you’ve played your part, or will you continue with new ideas to get across the vegetarian message?

I think that by existing and being vegetarian it is, if you like, an ongoing private cause, and people do notice it.

You also seem to promote vegetarianism in all your press interviews. Is that deliberate?
I do want people to know about it. I find that it generally comes up in normal conversation, I'm not standing on the table saying 'Let's talk about slaughter'. Even when I meet people on a casual basis, it does ultimately come up, whether it's because of cosmetics or food. At the moment the fur issue seems to be on everyone’s minds...

And CFC’s and the ozone layer.
Yes, mmm, yes.

Why do you say it so cynically?!
Because you did, I copied you as you seem to know so much about it!! Ha ha! I don't know - it's not because I'm naturally pessimistic, but that does come into it somewhere!

Do the press take your views on the environment and animals seriously?
The music press take it very seriously, the national press do not. With teenage magazines it’s a bit harder - but it's only harder because they treat absolutely everything in a trivial way.

T Do you use non-animal tested products.

Yes I do. On certain products where I'm not quite sure about the testing, I always inquire direct to the manufacturers.

T Do you shop at supermarkets that don’t sell meat?

Well, that's quite hard. I mean can you name one?

T Holland & Barretts.

Well, yes, but I don't think of that as a supermarket really. I do go to health food shops, but I've also been sighted in Marks & Spencers, people have got blurred photographs which look like lampshades!!

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