Matty ‘Blag’ Roberts
It was with great sadness that Red Action members learnt of the death, in tragic
circumstances, of Matty Roberts or Matty ‘Blag’ as he had become known to friends
and the media alike. Although never formally a Red Action member and whilst
having drifted out of political circles in recent years. Matty was still regarded
with a great deal of affection by his former comrades. The large turnout at
Matty’s memorial service, which was attended by representatives of both RA and
Anti-Fascist Action, demonstrated his lasting popularity with those who had
known him both inside and outside of politics.
larger than life character, Matty’s involvement in politics had begun not on
the Left, but on the Far-Right, with membership of the British Movement during
his teenage years. Whilst doing one of a number of spells in Young Offenders
institutions however, Matty began to question his flirtation with fascism and
left shortly after.
into contact with RA and AFA, Matty became a highly valued and trusted activist,
playing a notable role in many a successful stewarding operation.
At the same
time as playing this covert role, Matty also developed a very public profile
as spokesperson, frontman and lead singer with the band he was fundamental to
setting up - agit-rockers, the Blaggers ITA. The success of the Blaggers meant
they soon went from pub band to being signed by a major recording company, EMI.
Always aware of the contradictions of becoming ‘rockstars’, the Blaggers spent
the money EMI had provided for a signing-on party for instance, on adverts in
the music press highlighting the growth of fascism and the complacency of the
Left in Britain.
short-lived, media love affair with the Blaggers came to an abrupt end as they
closed ranks, accusing Matty of being involved in a fracas with a journalist
who had claimed that the ex-BM leopard had not changed his spots. For an image-based
medium, often obsessed with ‘keepin’ it real’ Matty had proved
far too authentic, “You can theorise and nit-pick later. We’re in your face
and if it offends your middle class intellectual sensibilities then fuck you!”
he told the New Musical Express in 1993.
fondly remembered by all of his RA comrades, who offer our heartfelt condolences
to all of his family and friends.
to this cause for life, and it’s about time people stopped sitting around and
joined the struggle”. (Matty Blag, NME)
Reproduced from RA Vol 4, Issue 6, April/May '00