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Self Indulgent Twaddle Or My Life in the Labour Party:Part One. How and Why I Joined Up

Let’s get one thing straight…It’s OK for me to slag off the Labour Party, but don’t even go there with me unless you know what you’re talking about? OK? Good. Only joking! I like and welcome debate and have been known to admit to being wrong…. Once, in 1985.

I was brought up Roman Catholic so I suppose it’s in my nature to offer unquestioning loyalty to a deeply flawed institution.

Granted the sorts of scandals that have afflicted the Roman Catholic Church are on a scale apart form the Non Scandal of “Loans For Peerages” , (put up, or shut up PC Plod).

But you get the point? It’s all about belonging to something which offers solutions to some of life’s difficult Philosophical Issues. And in the eighties the Labour Party gave us a vehicle and channel to fight back against the Tories.

Now therein lies the rub.They were very polarised times and especially in Yorkshire given all the strife of mass unemployment, the Miner’s Strike and Thatcher’s assault on the NHS and Education System, which up until then, had been considered to be “above” Party Politics.

These days people go on and on about how de politicised the younger generation are. Excuse me? Two million people on the march in Feb 2003 against the imminent Iraq War. Millions involved either actively or as viewers for the Live 8 thing. And tomorrow we see more mass demonstrations against Trident.

I was in Edinburgh for the Long Walk (or push in Mairin’s case ) to Justice Campaign aimed at the G8 summit. A quarter of a million mainly young people on a deeply political protest against the effective genocide that is African Poverty.

What these "commentators" mean is that people are disillusioned with Party politics.

And why not? To the casual observer Tony Blair has seemingly blown the trust invested in him by the 1997 landslide. And yet the Tories can make no gains in the polls and the Lib Dems are supported by people who can waste a vote. “Go back to your Constituencies and prepare for Government” must be one of the most hilarious Conference speeches in history.

To my eternal shame I voted Lib Dem at the last General Election in the (vain) hope that they could unseat that nasty little bugger David Davis. How inept are they? Davis (against the national trend) INCREASED his majority due to a woeful Lib Dem campaign. I mean Charles Kennedy. Do me a favour. Pot smoking, votes for the criminal and a 50% tax band. A great set of policies when you aspire to destroy the Tories. And they have utterly no principles."Ooh look, a bandwagon! Lets jump on it!" (Iraq).

It skewed the vote because many tactical voters (like me) detracted from Labour’s national percentage so it made it look as if Party had done badly. I mean a Third Term Majority of 67.We would have been ecstatic with that after the 92 fiasco.

So political anger and 60p a pint in the Labour Club saw me join up in Sept 1984. It seemed a good mature thing to do as I entered the Sixth Form. A rite of passage if you like.

I always had myself down as a bit unconfident at that age (16), but I rang the local Office and just turned up for a meeting and never looked back. Great friends but not so great times.

The Miner’s Strike was just unbelievable. Literally Civil War. The miners were a great set of lads because they didn’t care who got involved, even lanky Sixth Formers with bad skin. I went to a rally in Barnsley and the guy said; “We are the face of it but it’s everyone’s struggle against Her“.

There wasn’t any stuff like, "You lot know nowt because you aren’t down t’pit", and I found this with all of them, especially the wives, who came over on a Friday night with a van for stuff we’d collected in town.

Tin’s blankets and the like. In the 1980’s.Disgusting.Being cut off by the lecky board when you’ve got a new born. The stories would make your toes curl.

A mate of mine now went through it as an 18 year old lad. The police were just the pits (no pun) Met officers giving it the large one about the overtime paying for Barbados.

And the casual violence. Pit villages being surrounded and the Met going in to kick the shit out of strikers and whoever got in the way. It’s all accepted now but the Tory Press in those days….No way. It was an elected dictatorship.

And Her phrase "The Enemy Within" about the strikers.

Veterans of D Day.

Men who had been on the Burma Railway.

Lads who fought in the bloody Italian campaign.

The Korean War.

The Falklands.

Northern Ireland.

People who were St.John’s volunteers.

A guy who was a fill in Vicar when people went on holiday.

Lay ministers.

Scout Leaders

And men suffering illnesses brought on by the conditions underground.

The Enemy Within…….

But it’s not by any means about hatred of the Tories. Although that’s all part of the fun!

I believe strongly that as people we have the power when we work together to make the world a better place.(Pass the sick bag? You old cynic).

There is nothing worse than selfish people and at the end of the day we only get on crack at this life so you’ve got to do it right.

Every conflict is about money and resources so you address this you eliminate war and poverty which are the two things that drag us down as a World.

And, if you want to look at it from a Tory point of view, you educate people and give them opportunity then they don’t nick you car, or burgle your house!

Besides everything is so much better when people are NICE to each other. And it’s always a buzz when you do something good for someone else.

That’s why I admire Tony Blair, because whilst we indulged ourselves, all trying to outdo each other for how worthy were, how “real” we wanted to be, the Tories were destroying the country.

Much as he would hate the comparison, Tony Benn set the example to Blair by serving through clenched teeth in the Wilson/ Callaghan Governments for eleven long years. He realised that “Principles without power are ultimately futile”.

So did Blair. He got us into power and revolutionised the country, ruling for everyone, not just a section of Society, and thanks to him we are Nation transformed for the better.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


One thought on “Self Indulgent Twaddle Or My Life in the Labour Party:Part One. How and Why I Joined Up

  1. Hi Dermot,Thanks very much for your recent input, re:Photos on spaces, it was much appreciated.I’m only a few years behind you but I do remember some of the decline of the late 70s which caused  the conservatives to get into power.The Thatcher years were most certainly boom & bust, in, like you put it, a very ‘selfish’ way. That era did truly bring a shift in mindset from ‘community’ to the ‘me, myself & I’ way of thinking.I did meet Tony Blair, in ’97 just after he was elected, I was working at The Guardian at the time, on my way to a break and he was being ushered in through the back entrance, he stopped, greeted me, asked how I was and before I could answer, he was whisked off by security to the lifts.You obviously know that the Guardian was one of his main supports throughout the campaign, so he was making his, ‘thank you’ visit.I believe, that one person can make a change, if they are determined and dedicated to their cause but you’re right, we achieve more when we work together, the ‘TEAM’ acronym comes to mind. ;)I was thinking the other day, it is hard to please everyone, political parties will never be able to appease an entire nation, but when the majority become discontented you ‘obviously’ have problems.There are cycles to everything, I think TB is definitely coming to the end of his cycle, but I don’t think it’s the end of Labour rule.I’m one of those people who would like a party to take and combine certain policies from Labour, the Conservatives & the Christian Alliance…lol! It’s not going to happen is it?Anyway, I hope things are OK and on the up ‘health-wise’ for you.Take care my friend,Phil.

    Posted by P | February 23, 2007, 12:48 pm

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