Monday, September 24, 2007

My Politics: An Introduction

In the autumn of 1964, ahead of the election that took Harold Wilson into Downing Street (just), my mum was 15 years old and living in Glasgow. Like most kids of that age she had no interest whatsoever in politics. A friend’s father who was involved in the local Conservative campaign managed to persuade his daughter and my mum to help him deliver leaflets door to door on the Glasgow housing estate where they lived. She vaguely remembers some small financial inducement and paid no attention to the material she was being asked to deliver.

A few days later my grandfather, an Irish immigrant and ardent socialist who worked in a shipyard on the Clyde, came across one of the leaflets that she’d brought home inadvertently. Needless to say he wasn’t pleased! The realisation that his youngest daughter had simply been roped into helping a friend’s father rather than consciously becoming a Tory (the horror!) may have softened his anger a little but he still left her in no doubt about where his own political sympathies lay. We don’t know if he ever took the issue up with her friend’s father.

I have no idea if that’s my mother’s first ‘political’ memory but her retelling of that story is mine. When campaigning began for the 1983 election I was 11 years old and I asked my parents who they intended to vote for. Although I don’t recall any particular affection for Michael Foot their contempt for Mrs Thatcher was beyond doubt. My mum related that story as if to stress that supporting the Labour party wasn’t simply the right thing to do; it was something we were genetically predisposed to!

This is the introduction to a series of posts aimed at deconstructing my own political beliefs. The few regular readers I have would probably describe me as a Tory and that’s not something I usually dissent from. It just occurred to me recently that my place on the political spectrum isn’t the consequence of any measured and detailed analysis of policy or political history – it’s part rebellion, part contrariness and part regurgitated leader columns and books I happen to have read. Layered on that is a largely superficial assessment of the character of leading politicians. That’s not an easy admission to make publicly but my guess is most people, if they’re honest, would acknowledge a similar genesis for their views.

More soon...


At 9:21 AM , Bob Piper said...

Your Ma had got it right by 1983 Liam. You are a sad disappointment to the woman.... and a contrary bugger too!

At 12:23 AM , Newmania said...

I became a Conservative when the unions turned the lights out . It hardened at university surrounded by fatuous Liberals but I only really became polticised when the bastards took my parking space away.

At 4:18 AM , Cassilis said...

Bob - won't dissent from the contrary tag and my mother wouldn't let me anyway!

NM - just to continue the contrary theme thought I'd share my father's comment on reading this post and your comment? "So that mania bloke became politicised when they took away his parking space? - for millions of others it happened when someone took away their jobs!"

At 6:51 AM , Newmania said...

In 1982 total capital write offs were estimated as £40 billion and the £94 billion invested in nationalised indutries was yielding and average return to the exchequer of minus one percent.

Noone took the jobs away , the money ran out to keep them artificially alive and you will not find anyone to argue that there is agoing to be a return to industry run as a charity or workhouse.

It was the fault of successive Labour and concenusus Conservative governments the reallignment was so painful( 4 million unemployed). It was also the fault of the inflexible Labour force that as expressed by the Unions . Again , even Brown will not think of going back to that.If you want a villain there they are and another good reason for voting Conservative.A better attitude would not be to assume to the world owes you a living which frankly many of the Unionised did . British Leyland alone cost the tax £3 billion over a decade ... what did they think was going to happen ?
Now I live in constant insecurity while 8 million people are employed to do the work of about half that number by the government to disguise unemployment and 5,500000 of working age are on benefits.

Unemployment is here its just the government is the employer of last resort. We can afford it because the world econmomy has exploded around us but without some retrenchment soon we are risking another phase of nasty tasting medicine.

Its no good engaging your heart unless you engage your head.Unemployment was caused by the Unions


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