Mumford & Sons' Winston Marshall Quits Band Following Uproar - Rolling Stone
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Mumford & Sons’ Winston Marshall Quits Band After Praising Right-Wing Provocateur

“I know now that, as long as I am a member of the band, speaking my mind on the evils of political extremism could bring [the band] trouble”

winston marshall quits mumford and sons

Winston Marshall

Amy Harris/AP

Winston Marshall has announced that he is officially leaving Mumford & Sons following an uproar after he praised a book by right-wing social media personality Andy Ngo.

“This is a difficult decision first brought about by an unintentional Twitter storm. In March I tweeted about the New York Times Best Seller Unmasked,” Marshall said in a statement. “The book documents the recent activities of the extreme Left in the US. The tweet was misconstrued by many as an endorsement of the equally abhorrent Far-Right. Nothing could be further from the truth. I condemn unequivocally all political extremism, be it of the Right or Left.”

The incident occurred last March, when Marshall congratulated Ngo on the publication of Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy. In a since-deleted tweet, Marshall also called Ngo — who  once got hit by a milkshake which he claimed was quick-drying cement — a “brave man.”

Ngo, who presented himself as an objected and independent journalist, rose to prominence covering far-right rallies and antifascist protestors. In 2019, the Portland Mercury reported on undercover video footage obtained by a left-wing activist group that showed Ngo with members of a far-right group, Patriot Prayer; the report also claimed that Ngo and the group had an “understanding” that he would be protected while covering rallies in exchange for favorable coverage. (Ngo has denied these allegations.)

After the tweets congratulating Ngo, Marshall announced that he would be “taking time away from” Mumford & Sons. In a post on Medium, shared alongside the statement, he also addressed the backlash, quipping, “I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all. But this was another level. And, owing to our association, my friends, my bandmates, were getting it too. It took me more than a moment to understand how distressing this was for them.”

Marshall went on to speak about the “distress” that came as he watched his band and his bandmates’ names being “dragged through some pretty ugly accusations, as a result of my tweet.” He added, “In the mania of the moment I was desperate to protect my bandmates. The hornets’ nest that I had unwittingly hit had unleashed a black-hearted swarm on them and their families. I didn’t want them to suffer for my actions, they were my priority.”

Marshall expressed gratitude towards his bandmates for being willing to stick with him amidst the chaos. But in explaining his decision to formally quit, his statement read, “I know now that, as long as I am a member of the band, speaking my mind on the evils of political extremism could bring them trouble. My loyalty and love for them cannot permit that. However to remain in the band and self-censor will gnaw my conscience, erode my integrity. By leaving I hope to speak freely without them suffering the consequences.”

In his statement, Marshall also spoke fondly about his years in Mumford & Sons and the group’s achievements, saying of his bandmates, “What a blessing it was to be so close to such talent as those three lads.” He added, “I look forward to new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues.” Among those, he noted, was a new group he helped found called, Hong Kong Link UP, which was set up to help “facilitate as smooth an integration as possible for Hongkongers fleeing their homes by connecting them with local Brits.”

Winston Marshall Statement

Being in Mumford & Sons has been exhilarating. From odysseys through the Scottish Islands to headlining Glastonbury, from The Betsy Trotwood to Madison Square Garden. We’ve done it all. What a blessing it was to be so close to such talent as those three lads. I will look back at it all with immense pride and love. However, after much reflection and consideration, I have decided it is time to move on.

This is a difficult decision first brought about by an unintentional Twitter storm. In March I tweeted about the New York Times Best Seller ‘Unmasked’. The book documents the recent activities of the extreme Left in the US. The tweet was misconstrued by many as an endorsement of the equally abhorrent Far-Right. Nothing could be further from the truth. I condemn unequivocally all political extremism, be it of the Right or Left.

At the time of the incident emotions were high and despite the furore, the band invited me to continue with them. Considering the pressure, that took courage. I’ve spent much time since reflecting, reading and listening. I know now that, as long as I am a member of the band, speaking my mind on the evils of political extremism could bring them trouble. My loyalty and love for them cannot permit that. However to remain in the band and self-censor will gnaw my conscience, erode my integrity. By leaving I hope to speak freely without them suffering the consequences.

I look forward to new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues. I will continue with my Hongkonger integration work. In January I co-founded Hong Kong Link Up. We aim to facilitate as smooth an integration as possible for Hongkongers fleeing their homes by connecting them with local Brits. Thousands have signed up, but we need more. If you’re interested please visit: hklinkup.uk

The band has been the ride of a lifetime. I leave with love in my heart and I wish them nothing but the best. To the band, colleagues, partners, crew, everyone who ever came to a show and everyone that supported the band, I thank you.

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