The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

DuryeggHere’s a PC dilemma to conjure with.  A pop artist produces a song with the word spastic all over it and of course, as a radio station you decide to ban it.  Only problem is the artist himself is disabled himself and therefore, not unreasonably, thinks he’s the best judge of what the song should be saying.

And so it came to pass in September 1981 that Ian Drury – punk vocalist and childhood sufferer of polio – came to find himself doing battle with radio DJs because he’d referred to himself as a spastic.  Polydor explained in a press release that the record was not getting stocked in shops and being deprived of airplay because of this reason.

The record company, which had decided to go ahead and delete the record, said: “The people who control pop radio seem to consider that this is a word that can’t be used in polite society or in a normal context but only in hushed, serious or reverent terms.”

Ironically, 1981 was the International Year of Disabled People.

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