An Alphabet Of My Life: P

P=Politics

From an early age, I became interested in left-wing politics. I was very aware of social injustices, and also inspired by studying the Spanish Civil War, and the International Brigade soldiers who volunteered to go and fight in what was a ‘just war’.

In my teens, I joined far-left political parties, and moved to other mainstream ones throughout my life. I also attended many public protest demonstrations, including one against the Vietnam War. Later on, I became heavily involved with the unions in the Ambulance Service, when I was an EMT. We supported the miners during the strike of 1984-1984, and showed solidarity during other strikes by different workers.

I became used to public speaking, addressing large numbers of people at meetings, urging them to join unions and to be a part of the process of seeking fairness in the workplace. When the country-wide Ambulance Strike began in 1989, I was at the forefront of the protest, turning up every day to help organise things in my area, along with like-minded colleagues.

But by the time I was 50, union power in the UK was decreasing; beaten down by changes in the laws, and worker apathy. And as far as politics was concerned, I no longer had a left-wing party to support. By the time I was nearing retirement at 60, my inner fire had gone out. I was not in a union, and was not a member of any political party.

Now all I have left are the memories of a very political past, and my political blog. https://redflagflying.wordpress.com/

52 thoughts on “An Alphabet Of My Life: P

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a number of prominent politicians, including one future president and two presidents in office at the time. I shook the hand of one of the latter.

    Of the many encounters I’ve had with politicians below the presidential level, these four are perhaps the most interesting:
    (1) A member of the U.S. House of Representatives who later won election as a U.S. Senator, but died in a plane crash on his way to the victory party. His office was in the same hotel where I had a summer job as room service. We once rode in the hotel’s elevator together.
    (2) Another member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He gave a speech at the university I was attending, and somehow we ended up walking down the hallway together afterwards.
    (3) I once avoided colliding with a governor’s car in a medical facility’s parking lot. We shared the same doctor, and had just seen each other in the waiting area! I’d shaken his hand back when he was a gubernatorial candidate. He was standing outside the student union at the college I was attending.
    (4) I attended a rally of a former governor running for president (but lost the race). Not only did I shake his hand twice at the same event, but my photo appeared in the city’s newspaper.

    (Although I’ve avoided naming the politicians, four were of one party, and three were of the other.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The right wing throughout the world realised it can only get into power by school boy bully tactics. Trump of course. They have no policies & con people into the trickle down theory. Its happening in NZ right now. Our Jacinda from Labour, revered throughout the world, and Britain wanted as their PM, is hated by the men here. The lies told about her (& her partner) is incredible. Our conservative party is ahead on the polls (for next years election) on the basis of criticism and as yet have not brought out one single policy except “men are better managers of your money”. NZ currently is so far ahead of the world in health & finance, unemployment the lowest etc. But if you know a Kiwi, they won’t tell you that. The right wing have got into the media and that is the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good on you, Pete. There were times when we would have been on the other side of the barricade from each other and others when we’d have seen eye to eye. My politics have roamed all over. I love it when i see youngsters getting worked up and protesting. It’s a bloody right and we need to protect it even if it pisses the rest of us off. I’m a bit old for long marches and I need the loo too often to make it comfortable – my last was with my Dad, with whom I had violent arguments in my 20s, when we both protested Iraq. My young son was with us and Dad, who’d been a communist in the 1940S, a Thatcherite in the 1980 and utterly confused by the naughties was delighted another generation was involved. What I’d really like is the Swiss system, where they have regular referendums on important subjects rather than relying on their MPs consciences. But then I think about Brexit and decide I’m not so keen after all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Geoff.
      I was in the Young Communist League, then the British Communist Party. After that, I joined The Labour Party, but sought to undermine it by being a member of Militant Tendency, and was expelled. I never departed from the extreme Left, but just ran out of voting options. 🙂
      I did vote ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum, but only because of ‘Euro-Capitalism’ and ‘Globalisation’. I was mortfied to be associated with the Far Right and the fascists because of that decision.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I got paid ridiculous money, at the time, to monitor with video cameras the lunacy of violent protests. This or that union. I get it, the corporate world will screw any and all of us, but to me it all smacked of hostage taking. The same with embargos, boycotts… So Chick-Fil-A has an antigay stance. Don’t go. I don’t care about their politics, just their chicken. Nobody in modern times in a moderately free society held a gun to anyone’s head and said you have to be an airline pilot or an auto worker and get paid six to ten times what teachers and plumbers make and by your actions jack up the prices for the rest of us. It’s all part of the economic polarization process that began (here) in the early 20th century. Certain Brits have been anarchists forever. Even famous and much loved ones like Blake and Wollstonecraft. But I don’t get it. I never had to call cops the gestapo when I was a hippie. I didn’t like some of their storm trooper behavior, but neither did my father, a silver start and purple heart survivor of 25 missions over Germany in a B-17. no offense, but even to get everyone’s attention work stoppages are right in their with PC boycotts. Trash and dead bodies piling up and stranded workers just trying to get home is a crime against the people who have nothing to do with the grievance, and has proven in more modern times to be a nail in the cause’s coffin. Now that no one knows how to negotiate who the hell knows what the next option for workers is except to pay immigrants at fast food places more than school teachers and drive the price of a BigMac past $7 where only the people who make them can afford them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on the issue, Phil. I doubt we could ever agree, but I respect your right to have a different opinion. Nobody ever forced me to become an EMT, but I feel that I had the right to insist on better pay and working conditions, once I was fully aware what the job entailed and had experienced the reality of the job by that time, including what non-oprational management staff were being paid for sitting in offices and never having done the ‘real’ job.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My wife is a professor and feels the same way about administrators. Like management always despises sales. But my escape route on that is we take our jobs and do them and all justification falls flat in the face the oldest scenario in the book – politicians and generals don’t fight wars and had everyone in uniform decided along about 1941 that the job sucked, didn’t pay enough, was dangerous and threw down their weapons and went home we’d all be goosestepping our way to empty grocery stores sans the right to complain about our working conditions. A right to be taken seriously. We’ve seen the results of what happens when everyone stays home and nothing gets done. Remember the old joke about the parts of the body that think they’re the best?🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  5. At least you have the satisfaction of having stood up for what you believe in. I had very mixed feelings about unions. I had to join one and I often resented what I was told to do, or not do. It was all very well when I agreed with the issue but often I did not. Unfortunately, in our case there were quite a few shirkers, staff who took advantage of being unionized to goof off and abuse ‘worker’s compensation’. I always said it would be the downfall of the union and bit by bit the workforce got dismantled until the staff were basically clinging to the wreckage. Human behavior. I believe passionately in equality but I don’t see that it will happen. You must have been a thorn in the side of management and there must be satisfaction in that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was a permanent thorn in the side of management, Carolyn, and that fills me with pride. My nickname was ‘Stalin’, and I embraced that 100%. If we had done nothing, EMTs in London would still be on crap salaries, have no breaks, and suffer awful working conditions. If I helped to change that, I have no regrets.
      (If someone did not want to strike, or join the union, that was okay. Unless they got in trouble at some stage, then I refused to represent them and they had to deal with the issue alone. Some of them came to regret that decision.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  6. I was very much into politics growing up into adulthood, had a period in my 30’s-40″s where I didn’t follow it as much (although I always voted), but now I am finding it intriguing again as American politics has played out in the last decade or so. Try to stay on top of the issues, support the candidates I like regardless of party affiliation, and continue to vote my conscience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fortunately, we never had that problem here. But later governments introduced anti-union laws that crippled their power. We still have strikes, (currently raailway unions are striking) but they are much less effective now.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like you did your part and it helped many of your generation. Things have changed for current employees for the better because of unions so be proud of what you and them achieved. The next group of workers coming up have different challenges in the workforce, you don’t have to battle against, they will find their voice to stomp out injustice in their time. I am mid fifties and a union rep in my organization in Canada but if find many don’t want to get involved until forced to. I will hand over the reins happily when my fire runs out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What’s particularly distressing in the US is seeing the gains in civil rights that resulted from political activists in the ’60s being destroyed by far right extremists who have the country in a stranglehold. People died for others to have equal rights.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I have become more interested in politics as the years went by, but it gets to the point where you think things just keep repeating and people don’t seem to learn from history at all. You’ve done your share and more, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think there is something of a resurgence in political activism in the young now, after a period of apparent apathy—possibly when a generation was growing up during the ’80s & ’90s, when things were reasonably stable, and before the scourge of Thatcherism became apparent—it’s hardly surprising that young people are campaigning, given the dire state the country is in. I don’t know anything about whether politics is taught in any form in schools now, but I feel that it should be, to give young people the knowledge to make informed decisions, instead of arriving at polarised viewpoints by getting their information from social media, or even mainstream media, which are very often biased. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Jon. I don’t know enough young people to comment on their activism, but it is obvious from the TV news that many are actively protesting Climate Change by blocking major road routes. I just wish they would target those who can actually do something about it, instead of ordinary people trying to commute to work and earn a living.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I have to agree with you there, Pete. There is a well-known saying: “No change without challenge”, but the challenge must be targeted sensibly, otherwise it undermines the campaign and destroys support.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. good for you for getting involved, it’s important. I’ve mellowed, but still active in protests, rallies, and getting the word out, especially since our country’s politics have gotten so crazy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I continue to sign petitions, and often contact my member of parliament to complain about the way he has voted on issues. I’m not sure if it does any good, but it makes me feel better to try.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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