Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Democracy Is Alive and in Good Health Here in Godzone; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Democracy Is Alive and in Good Health Here in Godzone; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

ONCE voted communist.

ISorry if that shocks you but I thought I'd begin that way to reassure the Lawnmower Salesman.

The Baldy-Headed One complains this column has lost its way; that it's full of (expletive deleted) politics and no longer funny.

So what could be funnier than admitting to voting communist during the Cold War? Actually, I wasn't the first: Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid took out membership of the British Communist Party after Russian tanks rolled into Budapest to quash the Hungarian Uprising in '56. Now THAT'S amusing.

My protest, minor by comparison, was staged in a council election when we lived in BNP-riddled east London: required to select three candidates, I found myself one short of lefties.

Now I've never voted Conservative, probably because my dad said I shouldn't (but that doesn't mean to say I wouldn't) and the Lib Dems were still a plot waiting to be hatched by David Owen's Gang of Four. So communist it had to be.

Voting communist in a council election after years of Edward Heath and the Tory-run GLC was no chore: Better Red Than Ted, you might have said.

But honestly, the Commie's party politics were irrelevant; I knew the man slightly, our daughter was at nursery with his son and I liked his ideas for local education and the need for more council housing.

And I didn't know he was a communist until he turned up on my doorstep.

So nowadays I get mad as hell when local elections are treated as insignificant, irrelevant, mid-term 'beauty contests', little better than an opinion poll (usually unfavourable) on how the sitting tenant at Number 10 is doing.

I get even madder when Little Englanders whine about Brussels 'taking away our right to run our own lives' when London has long since mugged Morpeth and made off with the policy-making and fiscal control that ought to be in local hands.

"Give us back OUR rights," we Northerners should demand of a Westminster parliament which sits in a city closer to Brussels than to Berwick. …

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