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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 November 2015

Why I joined: "I already feel as if I am finally home"

Socialism 2015 Saturday rally, photo Senan

Socialism 2015 Saturday rally, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Richard Price, Gloucestershire Socialist Party

I have been a socialist ever since the day in 1984, when nine years old, I recall my father swearing about Maggie Thatcher during news coverage of the miners' strike. When I saw his reaction, I realised I was witnessing an important struggle, one full of pain and injustice, and I instantly knew what side I was on.

Fast forward to 1992, when, as a 17-year-old, I was just too young to vote in that year's general election. I had a driving lesson on polling day, and I will never forget asking my instructor, an ordinary working class bloke, who he would be voting for.

He said he had been thinking of voting Labour for months, but that he would "probably bottle out and vote Tory" after all.

Tony Blair

In 1995 Tony Blair was elected Labour leader. I admit, I fell for it. He inspired me, so I joined the Labour Party. They were the party of the working class, of the common man - they were socialists, right?

In New Labour on the other hand, policy was decided by a few at the top, and the discussion of political ideas took a back seat.

There were election victories to celebrate, but as a local government worker, I found myself on strike over pay and pensions under a Labour government. It seemed absurd, and I was struggling to square the circle. This was not what I had envisaged.

In 2003, Britain joined George W Bush in the invasion of Iraq. I demonstrated in London against the war, and said I would step down as constituency chair and leave the Labour Party if we went through with it. I knew I had to go.

Con-Dems

I became heavily involved in my trade union, which was the focus of my political activity until, in 2010, the Con-Dems were 'elected', and I felt compelled to do something. Against my better judgement, friends in the Labour Party helped persuade me to re-join. I hoped it would feel as if I was back where I belonged, but it never did.

Labour councils pushed through cuts and Ed Miliband committed Labour to following a programme of austerity. I could see the election defeat a mile off, Labour was not offering an alternative.

I did not see Jeremy Corbyn's victory coming, however I supported and welcomed it. The contest itself reopened old wounds in Labour, and, while the left of the party has won, it's not the end of the battle. I began to ask myself whether Labour's so-called 'broad church' was more of a cavernous cathedral. How had I ended up in the same political party as the likes of Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt?

The Socialist

I know a few local Socialist Party members that sold the Socialist and have always enjoyed talking to them. They regularly run a stall in my local city centre, where I recently signed a petition on the NHS and bought a copy of the paper. We got talking, and they invited me to their next meeting, and to Socialism 2015.

It was at this event, listening to the inspirational words of comrades at the various sessions and the rousing speeches of Roger Bannister, Hannah Sell, and others at the rallies, that I realised the Socialist Party is where I belong; where I had always belonged. I already feel as if I am finally home.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 18 November 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

How to defend Corbyn and defeat austerity

We can defeat the Tory cuts!

Tories flog bank assets to hellhound US profiteers

Athletics doping scandal: big business profits behind global sports corruption

Councils won't spend a penny

Them & Us


Socialist Party features

The end of social housing? How can we solve the housing crisis?

How can young people organise to support Jeremy Corbyn?


International socialist news and analysis

Paris terror attacks


Workplace news and analysis

Junior doctors: first strikes in 40 years

Trade union action needed to fight for steel jobs

Historic London bus drivers' agreement

Reinstate sacked CWU reps

Pro-Corbyn mood among Usdaw members

Support for Roger Bannister in Unison election

Workplace news in brief


Readers' comments and reviews

All NHS unions should join junior doctors' strike

A day in the life of a Game retail worker

Why I joined: "I already feel as if I am finally home"

Robert Tressell's characters are all too real to me

My struggle for an income I can live on


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Labour bans union activist

Thousands march against India premier's bloody sectarianism

Strike to save Lambeth libraries

Gaining momentum in Lewisham

Anger at care home closure


 

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