Obituary - Matty 'Blag' Roberts


It was with great sadness that Red Action members learnt of the death, in tragic circumstances, of Matty Roberts or Matty ‘Blag’ as he had become known to friends and the media alike. Although never formally a Red Action member and whilst having drifted out of political circles in recent years. Matty was still regarded with a great deal of affection by his former comrades. The large turnout at Matty’s memorial service, which was attended by representatives of both RA and Anti-Fascist Action, demonstrated his lasting popularity with those who had known him both inside and outside of politics.

Always a larger than life character, Matty’s involvement in politics had begun not on the Left, but on the Far-Right, with membership of the British Movement during his teenage years. Whilst doing one of a number of spells in Young Offenders institutions however, Matty began to question his flirtation with fascism and left shortly after.

After coming into contact with RA and AFA, Matty became a highly valued and trusted activist, playing a notable role in many a successful stewarding operation.

At the same time as playing this covert role, Matty also developed a very public profile as spokesperson, frontman and lead singer with the band he was fundamental to setting up - agit-rockers, the Blaggers ITA. The success of the Blaggers meant they soon went from pub band to being signed by a major recording company, EMI. Always aware of the contradictions of becoming ‘rockstars’, the Blaggers spent the money EMI had provided for a signing-on party for instance, on adverts in the music press highlighting the growth of fascism and the complacency of the Left in Britain.

The predictably short-lived, media love affair with the Blaggers came to an abrupt end as they closed ranks, accusing Matty of being involved in a fracas with a journalist who had claimed that the ex-BM leopard had not changed his spots. For an image-based medium, often obsessed with ‘keepin’ it real’ Matty had proved far too authentic, “You can theorise and nit-pick later. We’re in your face and if it offends your middle class intellectual sensibilities then fuck you!” he told the New Musical Express in 1993.

Matty is fondly remembered by all of his RA comrades, who offer our heartfelt condolences to all of his family and friends.

“We’re committed to this cause for life, and it’s about time people stopped sitting around and joined the struggle”. (Matty Blag, NME)

Reproduced from RA Vol 4, Issue 6, April/May '00