'The Heaven 17 Menifesto' by Max Bell in "No1 01Sep1984"
Photos by Mike Prior

No1 01Sep1984 - title picture

One upon a time, Heaven 17 presented themselves as the dynamic young businessmen of pop.
But now they've crossed sides to supprt the miners, the Labour Party, feminism, and the fight against Thatcherism.

On the face of it, it could be just another trend pose. Max Bell takes a journey through Glenn, Martyn and Ian's pasts to discover the real roots of their personal politics.

Excerpt from contents:
No1 01Sep1984 - contents

The Heaven 17 Menifesto in No1 01Sep1984


"I was born on November 11, 1956 in the middle of a thunderstorm at Warkley Road, just up the road from Hillsborough.

"It's a nice enough area, close to the country. Most of the houses are back-to-backs, front terraces on three storeys.

"We wore lucky because we lived in a semi-detached house. All the kids at school thought we were rich. They called it a mansion.

"Both my parents worked. My father was works convenor, chief shop steward in a brick works. It was essentially unskilled manual labour.

"Because of his position as shop steward I was brought up with TUC yearbooks lying around the house. I definitely inherited my parents' political views.

"Mum worked at Bassett's, packing Liquorice Allsorts. Later she became a school dinner lady.

"Home was close knit, quite Northern I suppose. Apart from my older brother and sister we shared the house with one set of grandparents."


"As a kid I had no interest in politics. I did well at Myers Grove Comprehensive but after the fifth year I was so bored they asked me to leave in return for good references. Which I took to a Youth Theatre Project called Meat Whistle.

"I didn't go to school with any of The Human League, although the nucleus of a lot of Sheffield bands formed at these workshops.

"The atmosphere was like an elite youth club. It drew together similarly minded people. Martyn turned up, so did Philip Oakey. There were different groups every week."


"I'm kind of a Socialist. I don't agree with all their beliefs, but I have no empathy with the Conservatives at all.

"Even now we don't deliberately set out to tackle certain subjects. The new song we're most pleased with is 'Five Minutes To Midnight', which is inspired by the nuclear scientists' clock, the impending holocaust."


"Arthur Scargill and the NUM have bean completely misrepresented.

"Obviously there will be violence on picket lines if you're fighting for your life.

"Notice how those who scab or criticise closed shops never turn down improved conditions and pay rises.

"We've sent cash to the food fund and the royalties from 'Midnight' will go to the strike fund."


"The'60s sexual revolution mainly benefits men. If a man screws around he's a led, If a woman does she's a slag.

"'How Men Are' is about males keeping power. It's hard to rice above your masculine upbringing - you have to be constantly on guard."


"I was born in 1958 at the Northern General, Sheffield. My mum worked there. Dad worked at the steel works driving billets around for years until they made him redundant. He's happy enough now, he's a museum attendant.

"I went to the same schools as my dad, ending up at Greenhinde House Comprehensive. He didn't want me to follow him to Jessop Savilles (the steel works). Having been a shop steward, he had that well sussed.

"I left school at 16 and went to the Co-op, where I got Martyn's old job. I was supposed to be a trainee manager but I was actually filling shelves and boning bacon."


"During Marat Sade I thought of being a full-time actor. but you'd see people doing it for years getting nowhere.

"A few of us formed Musical Vomit, which was theatre punk, songs about death and stuff. We did a couple of gigs in Bath. We were canned off.

"The point of all this was that it taught me to argue and listen - to appreciate democracy. Before that I was a yob, if I wanted something I took it. Meeting a few nice girls helped change me.


"When I moved to London I noticed the differences between north and south.

"In Sheffield you made your own fun because the choices were so limited. In London, the choices are huge.

"Friends come down and say, 'Ooh, I couldn't handle this, I'd be knackered', but they don't realise I don't go out every night.

"I joined the Labour Party when I moved here. I'll go to the odd meeting, if Tory Benn is talking at Porchester Hall.

"Socialist politicians have a much better idea of what the youth need, the future of the country. The importance of the miners' struggle is that they're fighting for shoes for their kids and a decent Sunday dinner.

"You have to stand up and say what you want - and they want their communities. This will be a watershed in politics. I hope It's the end of this government."


"I drove from Sheffield to Grimsby the other day and I saw a convoy of police vans that went on for 15 minutes. If I was a miner faced with that aggression I'd turn to guerilla tactics.

"It's either that or sit indoors and rot.

"The pop and politics argument is fraught. On one level we are entertainers like Duran Duran. It's just that if people see you believe in something else, they might agree.

"It's easy for cult left-wing bands to be self-satisfied because they're preaching to the converted. It's too safe.

"We've been slagged off by people saying how can you earn a lot of money and hold those views? You can do it. We haven't sold out."


"My family lived in an extremely working class area of Sheffield, on a new housing estate which became a slum within two years. The flats they moved us to are also being demolished.

"We were very poor, my parents still are. Dad was an engineer at a cutlery and tools factory for 35 years. He had to retire through ill health. They gave him a gold watch. I never had a week's holiday until I left home at 22."


"I don't think that technically musicians can be a proper union. The Musicians Union is just a right-wing guild.

"I joined the Labour Party four years ago. I should deliver leaflets but I don't. We make financial contributions because we're not badly off.

"Our songs contain political elements, though we try not to preach.

"People resent that. 'Fascist Groove Thang' put over a serious point in a humorous way.

"The slogans which Paul Morley has used with Frankie are tremendous. Bob Last (Human League manager) influenced him with his Pop Aural slogans, propaganda as mass communication."


"We all live In London now, but I went back home recently to see mum and dad.

"All those demolished buildings and no new investment. It was like a nuclear wasteland.

"Sheffield is the centre of British socialism. The city, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham are known as the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, but now they're ripping the heart out of it. Communities are ceasing to exist."


"Sometimes I wish we'd not had that briefcases and modern technology image we had in the early days. The BEF approach was supposed to show up the hypocrisy of groups pretending to be street level and not caring about business.

"We don't advocate microchip hitech, but we have used the imagery of credit cards, say, on 'Key To The World' to point out their dangers.

"Our fault has been that we may have overestimated people's understanding. But the alternative is to patronise them. "


"If the miners were dealing with a rational government that cared for Great Britain, they would win. Ted Heath (the Tory Prime minister brought down by the miners' strike in 1974) was a humane man, but Thatcher will sell the people down the river.

"In all this the bias of the media has been disgusting. One man out of 200,000 goes back to work and it's banner headlines.

"What about the other 199,999?"