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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 18:14 GMT
Cameron pays homage to Morrissey
The Smiths
The Smiths were photographed outside Salford Lads Club (Photo: Stephen Wright)
Tory leader David Cameron has paid homage to his musical hero Morrissey by visiting the club which has become a place of pilgrimage for Smiths fans.

He met volunteers at the Salford Lads Club in Greater Manchester, where the band were pictured on the artwork of their 1986 album The Queen is Dead.

Mr Cameron chose the Smiths song This Charming Man on Desert Island Discs.

But Salford Labour MP Hazel Blears said his visit would remind people of "the dog days of Thatcherism".

Placards

Local Labour party members took part in a small demonstration outside the club, which a Labour spokesman said prevented Mr Cameron from posing for a photograph in front of the building.

But a Conservative spokesman said Mr Cameron's visit had gone ahead as planned.

You can't go through life without cuts and bruises
David Cameron

The Salford Lads Club also featured in the video to the Smiths song I Started Something I Couldn't Finish, in which a group of lookalikes of Smiths singer Morrissey cycle to the redbrick building, posed for a picture and then cycle off again.

The club, which opened in 1904, lists actor Albert Finney and Allan Clarke - lead singer of the 1960s band The Hollies - among its former members.

It has become a shrine for Smiths fans from around the world, who frequently scrawl graffiti over it.

'Iconic moment'

Morrissey recently contributed 20,000 towards the building's 1m restoration appeal.

The picture of the Smiths outside the club, taken by photographer Stephen Wright, is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

Mr Cameron said, during his Desert Island Discs appearance in 2006, that Morrissey's appearance on Top of the Pops was "an iconic moment for people of my age".

David Cameron looks around the Smiths room at Salford Lads Club
Mr Cameron met volunteers on a tour of the Salford Lads Club

But Ms Blears, who is also communities secretary, said: "People in Salford remember when the Tories were in power... I'm surprised he wants to visit a shrine so reminiscent of the 1980s - the dog days of Thatcherism."

Before going to the club, Mr Cameron met boxer Amir Khan at the gym he has set up in Bolton, Lancashire.

Afterwards he said: "It's a great example of someone giving back to his community - using his time and money to get kids off the streets and offering them a new direction and purpose in life.

"Some people might argue that teaching boxing doesn't make young people less violent, and that boxing is dangerous. They're wrong on both counts.

"Better in a boxing ring, than hanging around on the streets. Better looking up to Amir than some drug dealer on the street.

"And when it comes to the issue of safety, let me say this: you can't go through life without cuts and bruises."

Meanwhile, in a day heavy with political/celebrity link-ups, Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited David Beckham's football academy in Greenwich, south London, to discuss youth fitness and England's bid for the 2018 World cup.

The LA Galaxy player, hoping for a 100th cap from England under new manager Fabio Capello, visited Downing Street for a "private" meeting earlier this week.

Mr Brown's spokesman said: "The prime minister thinks football can play a strong role for many young people, particularly in poorer communities, to help community integration, help in relation to fitness and to encourage people to improve their diets."

SEE ALSO
Smiths hang in National Gallery
13 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
Morrissey gives cash to boys club
29 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Iconic club in conservation plea
07 Feb 07 |  Manchester

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