Why I joined

‘I needed to get involved with the fight’

Peter Rippon

After turning 18 in 1974, I proudly put my X on a ballot paper for the first time. I marked it against the candidate representing the party of my parents, the party of Keir Hardie and Aneurin Bevan and the party I firmly believed represented my class, the Labour Party. I continued to vote in exactly the same way at every election from that day until and including the General Election of 1997.

As the term of the government elected in May 1997 unfolded, I became more disillusioned, and in subsequent elections I did not vote. The choice before me was “Which shade of blue?” and politically I detest ‘blue’. I did attend the polling station each election however and with juvenile glee wrote individualised rude comments against each of the candidates.

As this year’s election approached I was resigned to adopting my normal routine of scribbled abuse, when I saw an interview with Dave Nellist on Russia Today’s ‘Going Underground’ programme explaining what TUSC stood for, both as an acronym and as a movement. At last! I had someone to vote for. Well I did if my constituency, Jarrow, was one of the lucky 135 which had a TUSC candidate. I checked and it was. Joy!

My joy was soon tempered as I realised that the date of the election coincided with my flight to the Netherlands to watch a football match, I know it’s only football! My flight was in the morning but I calculated that if I voted very early I would have just enough time to get to the airport.

‘I rushed in to vote TUSC’

On the morning of 7 May, I impatiently knocked on the door of the polling station 10 minutes before opening time. It didn’t open, but when it did exactly on time, I rushed in as fast as a 59 year-old with an arthritic toe can and proudly marked my X against TUSC candidate Norman Hall.

I did get to the airport on time and sitting in a bar in Rotterdam the next day it sunk in that the ‘dark blues’ had won. I decided that I needed to do something. I needed to get involved with the fight. So I did.

I started by taking part in the anti-austerity demonstration in Newcastle on 6 June and then, as a result of attending a public meeting afterwards addressed by Socialist Party Deputy General Secretary Hannah Sell I was enthused to join the Socialist Party. My fight starts here.

Incidentally the football match that I had travelled to the Netherlands to watch was postponed as a result of a police strike! Now isn’t that ironic.