After most of my lifetime spent in and working for the Labour Party, I am quitting it. It would be just as easy to say the Labour Party is quitting me as me quitting it. Whatever, the effect is the same.
So attached have I been to the party that I feel like a priest who has lost his faith.
It can’t be helped. Nothing would make me be complicit in the tiniest possible way in bringing Jeremy Corbyn to Downing Street.
I have given thousands of pounds over the years to the party. Not a penny more. Not until he and his poisonous crew are removed from the helm of the Labour ship.
Nothing would make me be complicit in the tiniest possible way in bringing Jeremy Corbyn to Downing Street
It really is a big wrench. I joined the party as a teenager when Clement Attlee was prime minister. I idolised Hugh Gaitskell and I worked for Harold Wilson, day in, day out, for seven years.
I was practically born into the Labour Party. My mother was a member. Her sister was a Labour councillor. When I lived in Rotherhithe, one of the poorest districts of South-East London, all my friends except one voted Labour, and even he voted for it in local elections.
I am enraged today when Labour leaders airily talk about three or four million people living in poverty in this country. It is a lie.
Poverty has all but been eliminated in Britain.
When my father died, when I was two years old, my mother was left with three young children (I had sisters of six and eight). Altogether, her state benefits amounted to 18 shillings a week (90p in today’s coinage).
I joined the party as a teenager when Clement Attlee was prime minister
That was poverty. Not £15,000 a year and lacking a flat-screen TV set.
I was born in a damp, bug-ridden, gas-lit, two-bedroom slum and five of my mother’s 18 shillings went in rent. My schooling was basic, though my lessons were harder than many in today’s classrooms.
We had outside toilets, three female teachers to control the whole primary school and no such things as free school meals or milk. We also had the cane.
When Corbyn talks of poverty, he is appealing to the populism of the envious and resentful, not to the truth.
When he speaks of housing the homeless on his first day as prime minister, he is lying again. It is physically, legislatively and financially impossible — and he knows it.
He speaks of re-nationalising the railways, but won’t acknowledge that the Luddite train drivers have caused misery to hundreds of thousands of people over the past three years. To him, the right to strike of a few is more important than the right to get to work of the many.
He and others talk proudly about distant relatives taking part in the Battle of Cable Street in East London, when the Jewish community had to defend themselves against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts.
I remember news of that battle. It took place about a mile from where I was brought up. Even at the age of ten, I was keenly interested in public affairs.
But a tangential connection with defending the Jews on one day in 1936 cannot exonerate Corbyn’s promotion of the evil terrorist group Hamas, and his attendance at a wreath-laying ceremony near the graves of Palestinian terrorists who took part in the massacre of Jewish athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
He denies he is anti-Semitic, yet he praises an anti-Semitic mural (later apologising for doing so) and welcomes as friends so-called Labour activists who are anti-Semitic and have turned the party into a refuge for anti-Semites.
Corbyn talks proudly about distant relatives taking part in the Battle of Cable Street in East London, when the Jewish community had to defend themselves against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts
The Labour Party I knew as a youngster provided me with my first holiday — a fortnight at Dymchurch on the Romney Marshes. I’d never seen sheep before, nor the sea, nor porpoises. I never forgot it. It was an example of the community helping the community’s kids. I hope I repaid it when I had the money.
I was the son, the grandson, the cousin and nephew of dockers, a more dangerous occupation even than mining. When my father died aged 38, it was his first day’s work in months. There was little permanent labour about.
He didn’t feel well and went to the doctor’s at lunchtime. His GP told him he was ‘scrimshanking’ — later to be called ‘lead swinging’ — and sent him back to work. He died that evening with my mother beside him. His death certificate said pneumonia; my mother said it was malnutrition over a long period.
The dockers of those days were strongly Labour but fiercely patriotic. Most of my male ancestors were watermen in one way or another.
Two in the 19th century were in the Army. One won a medal for bravery in the Opium Wars and the other a medal during the Indian Mutiny. My maternal grandfather died in Egypt in 1918, a month before the Armistice, and my mother’s first fiance died in France in 1919. All were volunteers.
That’s why I never had time for the hard-Left who infiltrated the Labour Party over decades and acted as paid Soviet agents, from the idolised Jack Jones, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, to Tom Driberg, elected year after year to Labour’s National Executive Committee by gullible and unknowing Labour activists.
Yesterday, Tony Blair, the most successful Labour leader since Harold Wilson, issued a powerful plea for tactical voting on December 12 so that moderate, responsible MPs, the spine of public life, could be elected to restore respect to Parliament.
Tony Blair, the most successful Labour leader since Harold Wilson, issued a powerful plea for tactical voting
I understand his passion. But where are those MPs? Fled to better jobs a great many of them, unable to be part of a Labour Party which despises moderation, practises no patriotism and sees the absurd economics of Venezuela as a model for the British economy.
I respect Blair’s optimism but regret it is not for me. The rot has set in and I can’t stomach it any more. At this stage, I would place a small bet on Boris Johnson still being Prime Minister after the election — that is on Friday the 13th of December.
But when I think of him, a song of 70 years ago keeps coming back to me: ‘How could you believe me when I said I loved you when you know I’ve been a liar all my life?
‘I’ve had that reputation since I was a youth. You must have been insane to think I’d tell you the truth…’
I’m not insane. And I’m not an optimist, either.