TOM Robinson has been making a stand against intolerance and extremism throughout his career.

The singer and radio presenter will be turning back the clock at Manchester’s Band on the Wall this month when he marks the 40th anniversary of his debut LP Power in the Darkness.

The album, which features classic songs such as Glad To Be Gay, 2, 4, 6, 8 Motorway and Up Against the Wall remain remarkably relevant, something which Tom himself acknowledges.

“I guess with all the uncertainty, the times we’re living in now are in many ways quite similar to 77 and 78,” he said. “In the Nineties when people listened to Power in the Darkness they said it was unnecessarily paranoid but it was always hard to convey that sense of flux we had in the Seventies when nobody knew what the hell was going to happen, and it’s kind of like that now.

“We really don’t know where we will be a year from now.”

Tom first performed Power in the Darkness in front of 80,000 people as part of Rock Against Racism’s Carnival Against the Nazis in London’s Victoria Park.

“I have to say that Britain, for all the paranoia and unrest going on, is still a much fairer, kinder country than it was in the late 70s,” said Tom.

“I don’t think many people are genuinely evil. I think they are worried, concerned and trying to do the best they can. It’s how you perceive what that best thing is that varies considerably from person to person.

“What we’re trying to do is fly the flag for those who think tolerance and generosity of spirit is better than violence and confrontation.”

At 68, Tom remains as erudite and passionate as ever and having spanned the generation from punk to today he’s in a good place to assess how music has changed.

“Rock and roll and pop music was the bush telegraph, it was the social media of its day back in the Seventies,” he said. “In the Eighties you knew what was going on in Compton through rap music. People were transmitting ideas through music - that’s certainly what we were trying to do with Power in the Darkness.

“Perhaps if you were starting out now trying to change the world you wouldn’t do it through music. You’d probably become a YouTuber.

“In the old days we had this ‘one too many’ culture where broadcasters would be a gatekeeper to whether your music got heard or not. You would submit your music to them and they would retransmit to everybody only what they saw fit.”

Tom’s Glad to Be Gay was famously banned from Radio One after being deemed unfit for broadcast.

“Now anybody can post something on YouTube and if it’s something people like, it will go viral.

“All you have to be is good. That’s a whole, amazing change. If someone has an amazing talent or something really important to say then it can get heard.”

Although social media as we know it didn’t exist in the late Seventies, Tom was a keen exponent of interacting with the fans.

“We had our own version of it,” he said. “We had Xeroxed newsletters all written on a typewriter in my bedroom We had a single sheet of A4 paper densely printed on both sides with who was in the band, where the upcoming gigs were, reviews of some of our gigs, funny articles by the band and agit-prop articles by me.

“Most importantly we had an address for the band and said that any letter with a stamped addressed envelope would be answered by us.

“I used to sit up in hotel rooms in the middle of the night answering sacks of mail, tucking handwritten answers into these envelopes because it was important to keep the faith.

“I think it was the single most stupid thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he laughed.

“It was very nice for people to get a letter from the band but I think they would much rather have had some new songs.

“If I’d only put the same amount of energy into writing new songs that I put into answering letters, history might have been a bit different. It did seem like a good idea at the time.”

Tom Robinson, Band on the Wall, Manchester, Thursday, October 11. Details from