Following a leave of absence, Winston Marshall, lead guitarist and banjoist for Mumford & Sons, is exiting the band. The news come after a March controversy in which Marshall tweeted support for a dishonest book by right-wing provocateur Andy Ngo.
Marshall made the announcement in the Medium post “Why I’m Leaving Mumford & Sons”. In the article, he reiterated his support for Ngo, whom he previously called a “brave man.” He also said he should never have apologized for backing Ngo and denied that he himself supports far-right causes.
The beleaguered instrumentalist began by reminiscing on all the fun he’s had on tour. “Who in their right mind would willingly walk away from this?” he asked. “It turns out I would. And as you might imagine it’s been no easy decision.”
Marshall wrote that, “I have spent much time reflecting, reading and listening. The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right.”
While he claims to have listened, he also mischaracterized the criticism. Ngo’s book doesn’t “documen[t] the extreme Far-Left,” it is an outright fabrication from a troll who built his reputation by instigating fights with protestors and then editing footage of the altercation in a misleading manner. He has been caught lying (or lying by omission) numerous times, including when he claimed that a milkshake thrown at him was filled with concrete, and when he wrote a race-baiting article about Islamist extremists conquering England that pretended a public ordinance about drunkenness had been placed there by Muslims.
Still, Marshall did distance himself from the alt-right movement. “Though there’s nothing wrong with being conservative, when forced to politically label myself I flutter between ‘centrist’, ‘liberal’ or the more honest ‘bit this, bit that,’” he wrote. “Being labeled erroneously just goes to show how binary political discourse has become. I had criticised the ‘Left’, so I must be the ‘Right’, or so their logic goes.”
He added that, “I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the Far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent Far-Right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust. My Grandma, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family knows the evils of fascism painfully well. To say the least. To call me ‘fascist’ was ludicrous beyond belief.”
Arguing that the threat presented by left-wing extremists is real, Marshall walked back his previous apology. “The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave. I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good.”
According to Marshall, Mumford & Sons had been supportive. “Despite pressure to nix me they invited me to continue with the band. That took courage, particularly in the age of so called ‘cancel culture.'”
In conclusion, he said, “For me to speak about what I’ve learnt to be such a controversial issue will inevitably bring my bandmates more trouble. My love, loyalty and accountability to them cannot permit that. I could remain and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity. Gnaw my conscience. I’ve already felt that beginning.
“The only way forward for me is to leave the band.” You can read his full statement on Medium.