News: Plan B
'Ill Manors' rapper responds to criticism over 'neo-Nazi' T-shirt
PLAN B has responded to criticism over a magazine cover that depicts the Ill Manors star wearing a T-shirt of neo-Nazi rock group Skrewdriver.
The rapper, real name Ben Drew, was criticised by journalist Brian Whelan for a photo appearing in the new issue of Shortlist. However, Drew released a statement to The Quietus yesterday explaining that he was not aware of the band’s far-right affiliations, and that he had created the T-shirt from a photobook about skinhead culture.
He said: “I was ignorant to the existence of the band Skrewdriver. I don’t listen to music like that so I wouldn’t know the names of bands that make that music. I was wearing a t-shirt I created using a photograph from the photographer Gavin Watson’s book Skins.
“I asked him if I could print shots from his book on to T-shirts. I made a number of these T-shirts. Gavin’s photos are relevant to me because they represent the demonised youth of the past. Just like my generation of young people are demonised in the media to all be hoodie wearing thugs and chavs so were the skinheads in the ’80s.”
Of the person on the T-shirt, who some believed to be former Skrewdriver associate and neo-Nazi activist Nicky Crane, Drew said: “Most of the T-shirts I had made were of his brother. The boy on the image is Neville Watson. Neville is Gavin Watson’s brother. The graffiti behind him is graffiti. Neither Gavin or Neville put it there; it was already there when Gavin took the photo. Gavin did not know I had printed that image on a T-shirt and I was not aware of the significance of it. The minute I found out what the words on the T-shirt meant I was angry with myself for not questioning them. The T-shirt is not official nor is it on sale anywhere. It was of my own doing and therefore it is my mistake, but that is all it is.”
Though not an expressly political band in their formative years — Fucked Up’s Damian ‘Pink Eyes’ Abraham and J Mascis number among fans of their early work — Skrewdriver later developed links to the National Front, and founder Ian Stuart Donaldson has been a martyr to the far right cause since his death in a car accident in 1993.