Shane MacGowan remembered by fans for ‘herrenvolk s***e’ tweet at Laurence Fox

Fairytale of New York: The Pogues tell Laurence Fox to 'f**k off'

Fans of The Pogues have been remembering frontman Shane MacGowan, who’s death was announced on 30 November 2023, and the time he slammed the right-wing activist as a “herrenvolk s***e” online.

MacGowan died after being hospitalised with encephalitis, but the clash with the former actor took place several years before his death, and revolved around the controversial Christmas classic, “Fairytale of New York”.

Fox tweeted to call for the BBC to be defunded in November 2020 after it censored the homophobic slur ‘f****t’ in the Pogues’ popular anti-Christmas hit.

On X, formerly Twitter, Fox wrote: “Here we go again. The cultural commissars at the BBC are telling you what is and isn’t appropriate for your ignorant little ears. Wouldn’t it be nice if we sent the (proper) version to the top of the charts? #DefundTheBBC.”

It was then that MacGowan – who headed up The Pogues from 1982 until 2014 – clapped back with the brutal words: “f*** off you little herrenvolk s***e.”

As fans paid tribute to the singer online, one remarked that this tweet was the “first thing I thought of” after news of the Pogues frontman’s death broke on Thursday (30 November).

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Shane MacGowan had been struggling with ill health in recent years, having been admitted to hospital after being diagnosed with encephalitis in 2022, a life-threatening condition that causes swelling in the brain.

He was discharged from hospital on 22 November, and celebrated his wedding anniversary with wife Victoria Mary Clarke in the days before his death. Clarke confirmed the sad news via an Instagram post, describing her late husband as “the most beautiful soul” who had “gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese”.

The Pogues were undoubtedly best known for their festive staple “Fairytale of New York” – a song penned from the perspective of a man who, after spending the night in a New York City drunk tank, begins to reflect on his increasingly toxic relationship.

The song has become a controversial discussion point amongst LGBTQ+ people, attributed to the use of a homophobic slur in the lyrics, with Kirsty MacColl singing: “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f****t / Happy Christmas, your arse / I pray God it’s our last.”

In 1992, MacColl cut the word from a live performance, with Shane MacGowan initially expressing that the lyric never meant to “offend” but that he did not believe it should be censored.

But in 2020, The Pogues’ official X account retweeted a sentiment which suggested that the singer might’ve changed his mind.

“The word itself being in ‘Fairytale of New York’ doesn’t bother or offend me,” the post read, “but straight people being so angry and outraged at its removal and fighting and arguing for the right to sing it bothers me deeply.”

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