From a political point of view my family only went one way, Labour. There were very good reasons for that and history played no small part. The family lived in a large town, which had grown up around mining, a harbour and chemicals. An old place with strong links into the steam revolution and heritage steeped in strong community ties.
My Great-Grandfather on the male side of the family was a miner, a dangerous job without a doubt. The mine owner owned the town including all the shops. For reasons lost in history my Great Grandfather decided to try to organise the men to form or join a union. The result of course was that he lost his job and was black listed by all the employers in the area. To get by and provide for his family he sold vegetables from a cart in summer and wood in the winter. He got by and the family survived.
My Grandfather was a member of the local Labour Party when things changed after WW2. He became a Labour town and county councillor and went on to sit on various committees of which Housing was his preference.
People were always coming up to him or coming to his house to ask for his help with some council issue. I’m not aware of him ever turning anyone away although there must have been times when he felt like it. In turn my Dad was also a member of the Labour Party for all of his adult life. He helped out with canvassing, running fund raising events and supported the candidates as best he could.
These three men were proud to be known as socialists and of being Labour Party members. They had simple aims, which were based in trying to improve the lot of the workingman and to try to ensure that each generation had a better quality of life than the one before. Towards the end of my Dads life it became more difficult for him to support Labour as they changed to become Nu-Labour. He still defended them and believed the working mans vote could only go to Labour but he knew the writing was on the wall. The need to be elected at almost any cost regardless of political manifestos was replacing the need to serve the communities which candidates were elected to do in the first place.
My own views had changed over the years also. I felt that in Scotland at least, the Labour Party thought it was their country and it would remain that way forever. I felt that they weren’t trying as hard as they should have been to deliver the best for the Scottish people.
Then there was the Poll Tax incident. One morning I was accosted by a chap with a clipboard, he stuck it in front of me and asked me to sign, what was, an anti Poll tax petition. I declined. As I walked away he shouted after me “You must be doing alright” in an accusatory manner.
At that moment my support for Labour died. For all the problems with the Poll Tax I liked, and still do to this day, that everyone in the community paid something no matter how small it was. Sure there were many issues not least the scale of charge per person depending on wealth which seemed rather unfair to those with less and perhaps more generous to those who had more. At that point in my life I’d worked hard to build a decent life and provide for my family. I’d done so by working long hours and creating a viable business from nothing and it provided jobs in the local area, I paid good salaries and looked after my employees who were for the most part loyal and honest. I was just an ordinary man doing his best. I wasn’t trying to be better than anyone, have more money or more or better things than anyone, I was just living my life as I saw fit without exploiting my fellow man. I was doing well and I was playing my part in the local economy, paying taxes being a positive contributor. How dare anyone accuse me of “doing well” when I believed that doing well in a fair way and improving you and your families lot was a fundamental human aim.
My Dad liked a debate he believed that everyone’s opinion was important and that their individual views should be protected and encouraged as would be his. In the past few years, and more so recently, I wonder what my Grandfather and my Dad would make of the way things have become. I honestly doubt that they would recognise some Labour voters, activists and MPs as being socialists or even being true to Labour core aims such as they were.
Most of all though, I wonder how they would have reacted to the lecturing, meddling and sneering which seems to be such a popular part of politics. In my Grandfather and my Fathers day they took personal responsibility seriously but they also felt that they had earned the right to self-determination. The constant whining daily messages from the government based on the views of un-elected do-gooder activists would have been instantly dismissed as propaganda and pretty poor propaganda at that.
For some reason, which escapes me, left leaning politics has become fashionable. Obviously not trendy enough for them to actually get out there and do anything meaningful and worthy to improve peoples lives. No it’s more of an ethereal understanding that people need to be saved from themselves and regularly prodded in the direction depicted by the trendy left as being the correct place to be. These people also seem particularly good at saying one thing and doing another. It’s not their fault however, it’s just they have such important lives and such an important message to deliver that they have to make the best use of time which means they don’t have time to follow their own dictates.
No time for five a day. An extra wee drink to help them sleep. And a jet to save time rather than a train, which is slow and full of those, well those “people”.
If we voters get what we deserve, and it looks very, very, very likely that we do, we will have a lot of pain ahead of us. The trendy lefties will of course have moved on by then to some other cause, which will restrict our lives even further.
Contributed by Petem