Few contemporary figures have proven as divisive as the individual I am about to discuss. A man whose controversial sound bites have been splashed across the pages of newspapers globally, insulting an assortment of genders, ethnicities and even entire nations, and whose nativist rhetoric has encapsulated the disenfranchised angst of millions belonging to the working class. I am, of course, talking about Steven Patrick Morrissey.

The former Smiths frontman recently drew criticism for expressing his support for the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, describing the result in an interview with FasterLouder as “magnificent”. This corresponds with a previous admission to Loaded in 2013 that he nearly voted for UKIP, proclaiming his admiration for the party’s then-leader Nigel Farage, saying, “I like [him] a great deal. His views are quite logical, especially where Europe is concerned.”

This has left some speculating whether Morrissey’s celebrity status disqualifies him from weighing in on discussions that ultimately have no bearing on his daily life, having lived predominately abroad for more than a decade, with one side choosing to defend his right to self-expression, and the other citing the statement as the latest example of an individual out of touch with the common man.

One could argue that a multimillionaire continuously bemoaning the torment of his existence is a flagrant dismissal of those living in abject misery worldwide; that this is indicative of a man whose worldview has become so insular that it has permanently crippled his artistic perspective; that it reveals an ego so grotesquely rabid, the resulting caricature transcends the restrictions of satire and parody.

But one would be incorrect.

In reality, Morrissey is a hero. A pop culture humanitarian. A White Helmet, risking his life daily to salvage indie pop from the debris of everyday mundanity. Indeed, he is better than you or I. A Saint Sebastian-like figure, martyred by a hail of bitter, journalistic arrows.

And what exactly has Morrissey done to deserve such scorn? His brief flirtation with skinhead culture in the early 90s, you say? His description of the Chinese as a “subspecies” in 2010? His autobiography referring to the female genitalia as “honeypots sprawled like open graves”? Propaganda! Innocuous locker room talk taken out of context by the supporters of Mike Joyce. It’s just words.

“I choose Morrissey because he’s not another politician, and he’s not just going to say stuff to get the votes. He’s not afraid to say something that’s unpopular,” said one fan.

“It’s just the way he says it, that’s all. It comes out wrong. I think if he had time to explain it, I think he could. When it comes over the news, you just get sound bites. You don’t get the whole picture.”

This is typical of the persecution faced daily by the marginalised community Morrissey belongs to, perhaps the most segregated of all minority groups: the middle-aged white millionaire. A truly wondrous oddity, comparable in its rarity to an albino unicorn or non-self-referential song lyric.

The discrimination against Morrissey was perhaps no more blatant than during his first foray into the world of publishing. Upon the release of his aforementioned autobiography and subsequent debut novel, List of the Lost, critics petulantly chose to focus on syntactical ambiguities and structural flaws, rather than the books’ billing as Penguin Classics, taking their place alongside far inferior works like Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beowulf.

If only there were a way to keep out these particularly unsavoury individuals. Some kind of long, fence-like structure… A wall, perhaps?

Not to impugn the role played by Morrissey – along with the rest of the The Smiths – back in the 1980s. Their artistic contribution helped encapsulate the bleak zeitgeist of Thatcher’s Britain and continues to influence generations of misfits who feel at odds with their peers. The Smiths oeuvre is incomparable, and made more of an anomaly in its career-spanning flawlessness (with the exception of Golden Lights, which is legitimately awful.)

Whether Morrissey remains relevant or not is ultimately subjective. The man continues to be as polarising as ever and will most likely remain so until the day he shuffles off this mortal coil and is finally absolved of his burdensome luxury.

Until then, my vote goes to Steven P Morrissey. Why? Because he tells it like it is (whatever that means), he speaks for the little person (whoever they are), and he is beloved by many, many Latinos. But ultimately I choose Morrissey because he alone has the power to make us work again, the power to make us safe again and, perhaps most importantly, the power to Make Salford Great Again.

Zachary Freeman