My Father In Reflection
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
My Father was a very passionate man, and this too centred around his political beliefs. Was he devoutly political? No, but there were things he cared about, and enough at times to show his support and solidarity to his fellow companions. He may not have been the greatest Dad, but if l was in a fight against something we both believed in, l could count on him. That’s solidarity, a sharing of the same opinions and supporting each other through it. I don’t judge people like many do, l respect as much as l can their opinions and that includes if they are against my own. We each have a perrogative to believe in what we want to, fight and defend it if the needs arise, or just attend and be there.
There is always going to be hot controversial debate on politics, people for and against, but the beauty of discussion is the ability and freedom to express it. To have your say, the rights to have your say.
I Protest At Last
Reflection 2003/Penned 2005
So, this dog walks on his hind legs into this saloon in the Wild West. He is wearing six guns on his hips and his left rear paw is bandaged. The dog goes up to the bar, pushes back his hat, leans on the counter and says to the barman. “A shot of rye.” He is finishing his drink when this cowhand enters the bar. The dog immediately draws his twin 45’s and shoots the man dead. “Why’d you do that?” asks the bartender. The dog replies, “Cos he’s the man who shot ma paw.”
The dog in the story is George W Bush, and the cowhand is Sadaam Hussain. Sadaam had shot George Bush Senior, not physically, but metaphorically in 1991, and son, George W was out to satisfy family honour.
At the time of the build up to the war in Iraq, I was uncertain about whether we should go to war. Sadaam was, maybe still is, an evil man and the world is better off without him, but no one convinced me that war was necessary, and there are many other evil men in the world equally deserving of removal. I am not anti war, per se, nor do I believe that it is always wicked. Does anyone seriously believe that the Second World War should not have been fought? I supported wars in the Falklands, the Gulf and Afghanistan before the Iraq business. However, I was unconvinced of two things. Firstly, that any link between Iraq and the dreadful events of 11th September 2001 had been shown. Secondly, that Sadaam possessed weapons of mass destruction.
At the start of the war I did not burn candles in the window or say prayers at midnight, or go on marches. And the reason? Because all that was a waste of time. Bush was determined on war and nothing I, or anyone else, could do, would stop him. And I do not propose to go on marches now, for the same reason. I do, and always will, support our troops.
I am 65 years of age and to the outsider, probably seem to be what I probably am, a white, financially comfortable, query middle aged, Conservative voter, a supporter of the establishment. Add to that ten years as a police officer and six as an Air Force officer and the picture is nearly complete. If you also throw in 23 years working for an International oil company, as a middle-ranking manager, the scene becomes even clearer. I was once married, for twenty-nine years, have two children and two grand children and that is about all anyone needs to know.
Or is it? Am I so effectively pigeon holed?
I grew up in a Catholic family in Belfast, and became a loyalist, unionist and monarchist. I developed a fierce hatred of Catholic and Republican despotism and hypocrisy to the despair of my parents, and the hatred of my Jesuit teachers whose sacred duty included knocking seven bells out of me. All this was not unique, but still pretty unusual for a Catholic in Ulster, especially in the Dark Ages of the 1950’s. So there may have been a little rebel in there trying to get out.
In the Police and later the RAAF, I took an oath to serve ‘My Sovereign Lady, the Queen.” She paid my wages for sixteen years and commanded my loyalty. Protest was not a word I understood.
I helped police many demonstrations, including a number of the Aldermaston CND marches and the anti South African riots at the time of Sharpeville, being bloodied both physically and metaphorically. After one Bertrand Russell extravaganza in Trafalgar Square, having paraded for duty at four in the morning, I was sitting with my somewhat weary colleagues in Embankment Gardens at two the following morning, when a young lady appeared. She was perhaps seventeen. With all the hatred she could muster she spat out, “Fascist bastards.”
The leader of said Fascist bastards, one Devonian called Sergeant Miller, looked at her, without moving from the bench. “Fuck off, love.” She did, with an “Oh, OK.”
It was a very British scene, alas unlikely to be repeated today.
I travelled the political spectrum from left to right, voting Labour, the old fashioned variety, then Liberal, twice, before they became Democratic, and finally for the last thirty odd years, Conservative. Not much of a rebel, not much of a protester you might say and you’d be right, but I once drove on a French Grand Prix circuit, once piloted a helicopter and once stroked a tiger. So we all have hidden depths, even me.
I went on two protest marches. True! Or it might have been the same march at two different times. This was the Countryside March, the last time on 22nd September 2002. Mr Blair said he voted against foxhunting in the Commons, and stuck with the story even when it was pointed out he was not even in the House at the time. Maybe, like WMD he believed it; maybe he inhabits a parallel universe where fantasies become true because he wants them to be true.
Never mind the propaganda, why did I march? Do I support foxhunting? I neither support nor oppose this so-called sport, which I personally do not like. Nor do I support or oppose fishing, or steeple chasing where animals also die. Foxes will still need to be culled, because they breed too quickly. Even the cuddly deer in Richmond Park are culled from 900 odd to about 600 every year, so the majority can survive.
There is no valid reason to criminalise something because someone doesn’t like it. I support Liberty, the liberty of the citizens of my country to go about their pursuits without being made criminals by an urban government operating the policies of class hatred. It is a curious thing, is it not, when the UK Government supports bombing Iraq and giving freedom to Iraqis, it legalises certain drugs and removes freedom from the British people? Kill Iraqis, save foxes.
I did not carry a flag, on either of my two marches, or a trumpet or a banner, nor did I yell and shout, but like my attendance at the Queen Mother’s laying in state, I wanted my feet and my presence to speak for me, albeit quietly.
Written by my Father B.M