Manic Street Preachers’ Nicky Wire calls out ‘left-wing’ pop stars who accept a Queen’s Honour

Manic Street Preachers’ rocker Nicky Wire says he would rather ‘stab my eyes out with a pencil’ than accept an OBE as he slams ‘left leaning’ stars who ‘queue up’ to receive honours

  • Welsh bassist Nicky Wire, 52, called out hypocritical left wing musicians
  • He also said ‘working class, collectivist’ values might not be relevant to today
  • Wire pointed to examples set by David Bowie and Paul Weller, who both turned down Queen’s honours in the past, as ‘role models’ for up and coming artists 

Musician Nicky Wire said he would rather ‘f****** stab my eyes out with a pencil than accept an OBE’ as he slammed pop stars who accept a Queen’s Honour. 

The Manic Street Preachers’ bassist, 52, called out seemingly hypocritical artists and actors who claim to be left-wing but ‘queue up’ to get MBEs and OBEs.

Wire says David Bowie and Paul Weller – who both turned down honours from the Queen – should serve as the role models to musicians.

The Welsh musician made the comments in an interview published in Mojo magazine.

The Manic Street Preachers’ bassist and lyricist said he tries to keep ‘working class, collectivist, and unpretentious’ values in his life – but admits they might not be relevant anymore.

Welsh rocker Nicky Wire, 52, called out seemingly hypocritical artists and actors who claim to be left-wing but ‘queue up’ to get MBEs and OBEs

He said: ‘Over the last 10 years, I just don’t know. I’m so riddled with doubt and contradiction now, even though I still kept to those principles.

‘My kids have been through comprehensive education, I still believe in high taxation and all those kinds of things, I stay close to my roots.

‘I haven’t abandoned any of those things at all. But I don’t know if they’re relevant to modern life. 

‘You see supposedly left-leaning actors and pop stars queuing up to get MBEs and OBEs – and I’d rather f****** stab my eyes out with a pencil than do that.

‘What was it, [Paul] Weller and David Bowie turned down knighthoods? 

‘That’s good enough for me.’

Several celebrities and stars have turned down a Queen's Honour in the past. Pictured: The Queen makes Detective Superintendent Mark Gower, from Reading, an OBE in November 2019

Several celebrities and stars have turned down a Queen’s Honour in the past. Pictured: The Queen makes Detective Superintendent Mark Gower, from Reading, an OBE in November 2019

Legendary rocker Bowie sparked headlines when he turned down a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year honours in 2003, because he reportedly viewed the award as a ‘waste of time’.  

The Jam’s Paul Weller rejected a CBE in 2007.

Other musicians to turn down honours include George Harrison, of The Beatles, jazz musicians George Melly and Humphrey Lyttelton, and composer and producer Nitin Sawhney.

Those who gain OBE and MBE titles are decided by honours committees made up of senior civil servants and people independent of the Government. 

Some have turned down their award from the Queen for political reasons.

In September 2020, reports claimed that members of the honours committee were considering whether to eliminate the word ‘Empire’ from the OBE and MBE awards. 

When poet Benjamin Zephaniah was offered an OBE in 2003 he declined it, condemning the award as a ‘legacy of colonialism’.

Zephaniah, who has Barbadian and Jamaican heritage, said at the time that the word ‘Empire’ ‘reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised…

‘Benjamin Zephaniah OBE – no way, Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire.’

Celebrities who have shunned the offer of being made an OBE or MBE include Danny Boyle, Jon Snow and Stephen Hawking.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy has previously advocated to scrap the word ‘Empire’ from the name, to make the award more inclusive to people from BAME backgrounds. 

Last year, while campaigning to become Labour leader, Ms Nandy insisted doing away with the reference to Britain’s colonial past would help make the country ‘different’.

Which public figures have turned down OBEs?

Comedian Lenny Henry rejected an OBE under the Tories in 1994 but accepted a CBE from New Labour in 1999. 

Dawn French rejected an OBE along with her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders in 2001.

Saunders said: ‘If I felt I deserved a damehood I’d accept it.

‘At the time, we felt that we were being paid very well to have a lot of fun. It didn’t seem right somehow.

‘We didn’t deserve a pat on the back. It felt a bit fake to stand alongside people who devoted their lives to truly worthy causes.’

Author Doris Lessing rejected an OBE in 1977 and a DBE in 1993, but accepted the title Companion of Honour in 2000.

She said: ‘I don’t want to say anything to offend any other Dame, but it’s all a bit like a pantomime.

‘The advantage (of the honour she accepted), as far as I was concerned, is that you’re not called anything, which I like.’

Roald Dahl, the maverick author who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, turned down an OBE in 1986 when he was 70. He died, unhonoured, four years later. 

Celebrity cook and writer Nigella Lawson rejected an OBE in 2001.

She later said: ‘I’m not saving lives and I’m not doing anything other than something I absolutely love.’

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah publicly rejected a New Year honour. He said he was protesting at ‘years of brutality’ under the British Empire and the war in Iraq.

Writing in a newspaper, he said he refused to be made an OBE because the award was a legacy of colonialism.

He added: ‘Stick it, Mr Blair and Mrs Queen, stop going on about empire.’

In 1977, director Ken Loach turned down an OBE. 

He said: ‘It’s all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.

‘I turned down the OBE because it’s not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who’ve got it.’