Today's sermon - Why I am suddenly so passionate about politics.
When I left school at sixteen I already was a tad political. I had joined CND at 14 and was lucky enough to meet Monsignor Bruce Kent. What an amazing man.
I initially joined the 'Ecology Party' the forerunner of the Greens. I was already becoming an ideologist but had not enough life experience to temper that with any realism.
The only experience before that was going to a 'Young Conservatives Rally' in 1978 at the newly opened NEC!
Thatcher was there spreading her gospel of materialism and greed.
Petula Clark screeching out 'Land of Hope and Glory' on the stage.
I went with a group of teenagers from Moss Side. We all were left slightly bemused and fearful. We did all get a bag of goodies which went promptly in the nearest bin.
This prompted my later decision to join the Labour Party and support Michael Foot in his campaigning.
Many a door was knocked upon by this long haired lout. Some pleasant. Most not. Stockport was mainly Tory at this point with some exceptions such as the pre-turncoat days of Anne Coffey.
In 1983 I left school and saw the beginning of my journey into the real world. I tried a YTS scheme in a camera shop, Jack Hadfield's in Stockport, but since I had no interest in photography I just ended up sweeping floors and being ushered into the back if a customer came in. I lasted about six weeks.
I then went to Stockport College on the PCSC course. It was to teach us to become care workers. It was then I truly got into the political scene. I became 'Chair' of the Stockport College Labour Group, and was elected (volunteered) for the local Exec of the Student Union.
During this period Thatcherism was destroying British Culture.
The protection of family units was stripped away as she and her cronies sold off and privatised all of the countries major assets.
To those profiteering whether with BT shares or the purchase of their council house, she was great, my mates even getting involved with buying shares (not me though as my bar bill in the SU was demanding my spare cash).
To others though such as miners, steel workers, firemen, infact anyone in manual or blue collar positions in industry she was stripping their lives clean to the bone. Removing rights to strike, to feed their families, stealing the future not just of individuals but communities, towns, cities even regions of the UK.
Families that had been comfortable, even prosperous were having to rely on handouts. Unemployment hit a million for the first time. When people rose up against her greed she brought in the police as her personal army.
Incidents were happening all over the UK.
Moss Side erupted in riots, Toxteth, then Brixton (I was in Brixton as it started and was witness to the police dragging people from buildings and beating them. This was not community policing it was vicious, violent and extreme responses, likely ordered by Thatcher herself).
I knew many of the Moss Side Rioters and these were not gangsters they were kids I went swimming with. They were not violent by nature they were affable and friendly. They were however Ghettoised. Beaten down and stripped of opportunity.
I started to become a 'flying picket' under the political flag going to support individuals and groups wherever needed.
To add my voice to causes I now fully believed in. This was when socialism, (not to be confused with communism) got into my blood.
I was at Warrington supporting the print workers that were losing their employment and future through the actions of Eddie Shah, a Thatcher apostle and media mogul. I was there warming myself beside a brazier when with no cause or warning the police charged us armed with batons and riot shields.
Kicking the burning oil cans into the crowd. These police had no justification for the absolute terrible violence they inflicted on the strikers and their supporters. I was lucky. I was dragged away by my uncle, a press photographer there to cover the police response.
I attended marches and picket lines for the miners, travelling as far and wide as South Yorkshire to Hyde Park. I saw many more heavy handed policing without justification. The Police now being used as a weapon against the people. Some officers absolutely relishing their new role.
Army Fire Engines (Green Goddess') being used as ad hock water cannon.
Around this time I also got involved with the ANTI-NAZI League and AFA.
I was sick of the discrimination I saw every day. I used these groups to learn what I was fighting for. To see how hate subjugated so many in our society and how all discrimination was a tool in the arsenal of what I now identify as the establishment.
At the time it was seen as just Thatcher and her evil cabinet, but I now realise it was and is far more sinister.
I began to understand people cannot ever be all equal as that's a utopian idea, but they can be equal in opportunity.
That however still is not the case in the UK. If anything we are further from it. More kids get to go to University now its true. And education does open some doors but I am reminded of an old joke, 'what do you say to a post graduate?' 'Big Mac and large fries please'.
Our children may achieve at uni or college but unless they go to Oxbridge have little chance of achieving.
They will run up huge debt. Be unable to buy a home. And every day they are watched from waking to sleeping. Possibly in-between too.
I do not have a passion for socialism to change my world.
I want my kids and their kids to have freedom, a voice, chances, opportunity, luxury, adventure, food, shelter, love, well-being! In short a future.
A country where people survive only with food banks and hostels and yet others drive £4,000,000 cars (yes saw one at the weekend) and live in gated communities to separate themselves from the 'riff raff' cannot do anything but stagnate and decay.
Austerity is a con to keep the rich wealthy and the not rich in poverty.
ASBO is not about keeping you and me safe from teenagers. It is to prevent teenagers or communities developing above their station. Its only enforceable against social housing tenants. A law designed to shackle the poor.
So yes I go on about Jeremy Corbyn.
Not because I like the bloke (never met him).
Not because he is the new messiah ( I have no god).
Not because he will make me rich or powerful (he wont).
Because he is honest.
He has integrity and morality.
He is not materialist nor greedy. He is absolutely a chance for change. A chance for a new beginning. A chance for the people to matter once more.
Socialism is not about greed or theft.
Its not about hate or keeping up with the 'Joneses' its not all men should be equal.
Its all men and women, of all races and religions, all abilities, all classes should have equality of opportunity.
All should matter.
All should have health, accommodation and food. A good standard of living for all. A more luxurious one for those that strive harder for it.
So this is part of what made me a socialist. And part of the reason I see Jeremy Corbyn as the path to a better future for us all.
Obviously its hard to cover it all in ome post. Big gaps in my story. One day I may just fill them.
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