Former Mumford & Sons lead guitarist Winston Marshall sensationally quit the band last year after deciding that being able to speak his mind on opposing Antifa and the violent Far Left was more important than keeping his career by kowtowing to the censorious wokerati. Now forging a new career as an anti-woke culture warrior, he says that looking back, he made the right decision as it allowed him to keep “my integrity, my dignity and most importantly my soul”. The Telegraph has the story.
Sixteen months ago Winston Marshall walked away from one of the world’s biggest bands. But today, when we meet for lunch at Blanchette, a French restaurant in Soho, the former banjo player and lead guitarist of Mumford & Sons seems remarkably perky. The 34-year-old bounds in dressed in a sharp black suit, holding a briefcase and a book, The Wind In My Hair, a memoir of a childhood in Iran by Masih Alinejad, the next interviewee for his Spectator podcast, Marshall Matters.
“This is very nice,” he says, as he looks around the room through a pair of 1970s-style hipster specs. As the son of Sabina, a French-Hungarian Jew, and Tory donor and Brexiteer Sir Paul Marshall, chairman of the hedge fund Marshall Wace, he has a considerably more interesting background than your average rock star. But it’s not just his parents, or the fact that Mumford & Sons won two Grammies and two Brits. It’s the fallout from a tweet he posted in March 2021, commending a book entitled Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy by Andy Ngo. “Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had time to read your important book. You’re a brave man,” wrote Marshall. Ngo is a controversial figure who has spent the last few years documenting the work of Antifa (as in “antifascism”), far-Left activists in Portland, Oregon.
A hero to many on the Right, Ngo has also been accused of provoking some of the violence he films and of other practices such as “doxxing” – posting online the addresses and personal information of his far-Left foes.
The moment Marshall tweeted, all hell broke loose. Turned on by friends and musicians as well as vast Twitter armies, he was called a fascist and a Nazi (by comedian Nish Kumar), with the band inundated by demands to “fire the fascist”. He was eventually forced, he tells me, to “highlight” the fact that he had Jewish family members murdered by actual fascists in the 1940s. Within days of the Tweet, he issued an apology for the “pain” he had caused and promised to take some time away to examine his “blind spots”. So far so familiar: an outbreak of wrongthink followed by punishment of the perpetrator and then grovelling repentance.
But then Marshall deviated from the script. Over the next three months he mulled, eventually deciding that it hadn’t been a blind spot to praise Ngo. That indeed the point wasn’t about Ngo at all, but about the fact that a matter of truth was at stake. By sticking by his apology and remaining in the band, he realised he would be “spreading the lie, that what I actually thought was that violent extremism was good. Ngo’s book documents 19 deaths in the first 14 days of the Black Lives Matter riots. I don’t think those things are OK and I will stand by that.
“When I published my apology I was open to being wrong, but the more I researched, the more I felt compelled that I wasn’t wrong, and all the things that were said about the author I think are lies. They were said about me, and I thought, well this is f—— b—-. Then Ngo was attacked [the author was chased and beaten by some Leftist marchers at a George Floyd anniversary rally] and my conscience blew up.
“I could have stayed in the band but now I look back and I think actually I couldn’t have stayed. The other option was to give up what I love and what I’ve built my entire adult life on, but keep my integrity, my dignity and most importantly my soul and so, looking back, it was a terrible time, it was horrible, but I made the right decision for me.”
Marshall “explained to the band my predicament and decision. After a few days of conversation there were no great objections, so I published my letter” [on the blog website Medium].
“So,” I ask. “No regrets now?”
“What’s the point?” he replies curtly. “It was horrible but… I made the right decision.” It’s hard to believe, though, that his decision had no impact on his friendship with his former bandmates. So far he has given only boilerplate responses, and today, even when pushed, all he will say, with a twinkle, is: “I wish them well.” But it seems safe to infer that those relationships remain another casualty of The Tweet. Other friends, however, surprised him: “Some people who I thought were very close were not and some people who were not really turned up. My friends, I know who they are [now].” He won’t divulge who, apart from those who stood up for him publicly: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maajid Nawaz, Benedict Rogers.
Worth reading in full.
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