Me and a cartoonist friend (you won’t have heard of him) declared 2014 The Year of Self-Promotion and I’m off to a flyer! Not content with the featured letter in London’s leading (only) evening newspaper and an article in the leading (only) journal of town and country planners, I’ve now got my own ‘mini-series’ in the leading (only) national daily paper of the British labour movement. Come on Tim – get your finger out!
If you’re a fan of ‘The West Wing’ or ‘The Wire’, you may enjoy my weekly articles about housing in the Morning Star. The first one’s here.
Writing for The Star is politically and personally important for me. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a child of the Communist Party, literally. My parents met through the CP and were loyal members for many years, as was my granddad and many of their close friends. My uncle still is. The labour historian John Gorman wrote a lovely book, ‘Knocking Down Ginger’ (1995), that vividly captures the political, cultural and social life of Party members in post-war east London that my family were part of. My dad always said the CP gave him the education he didn’t get at school and his love of the arts and literature, as well as fierce class consciousness, endured beyond his eventual bitter acknowledgment that the dream had failed.
It’s very difficult to understand the psychological impact that the barbarism of Stalinism had on people like my mum and dad. They weren’t ideologues or political operators, but saw in the Eastern Bloc societies that offered hope, respect and equality to working people. Of course, the evidence that this faith was misplaced existed long before my parents drifted away from the CP, but I think a residual loyalty existed alongside disillusionment. Even when the Party line, as presented in The Star, was very wrong, my dad maintained that he would rather have a daily paper that covered issues from a worker’s point of view. I think this is still a valid argument. I had a flashback to childhood yesterday, going into several newsagents and asking if they had a copy of the Morning Star, but if you want to do the same, my features should be appearing for the next few Tuesdays.