This Election Is as Important as 1945.Surviving Evils of Hitler and 30s Austerity Tells Me We Can Only Halt Calamity of Cameron If All Our People in All Our Nations in Britain Stand United against the Tories

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), April 27, 2015 | Go to article overview

This Election Is as Important as 1945.Surviving Evils of Hitler and 30s Austerity Tells Me We Can Only Halt Calamity of Cameron If All Our People in All Our Nations in Britain Stand United against the Tories


ALMOST 70 years ago, I voted for the first time in a British General Election, at the age of 22.

It was summer 1945 and World War II in Europe had just ended. But the smell of death and destruction lingered on like rotting rubbish.

I was still a serving member of the RAF and part of the Allied occupation forces in Hamburg, Germany.

I remember feeling as lucky as a lottery winner to have survived both the war and the cruel economic depression that had preceded it.

I felt I had a duty to vote as a sign of respect for all those who had been killed in battles or air raids across Britain.

Coming from the working class, my relief at having outlived both economic austerity and Hitler wasn't unique.

If people Scotland want austerity, it won't Nor was my desire at the war's end to demand a better life, because all of my RAF mates felt the same.

We came from different happen voting LESLEY parts of Britain, but our childhoods had been similar - we had all known extreme poverty.

Whether from Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, or in my case Barnsley, Yorkshire, we had identical upbringings in extreme austerity.

And it's that shared experience of hunger which made the 1945 general election the most important election of my generation's lives.

It would determine whether we were to live like slaves to a barbaric economic austerity that left millions destitute, or as a free people given an equal share of our country's economic bounty.

Now at 92, my life is reaching its final destination, but I see this election as just as important as 1945. Growing up in the slums of Yorkshire in the 1930s tells me that we can only survive the calamity of flat wages, reduced social services and diminished expectations created by Cameron and his Coalition if all our nations in Britain stand united against the Tories.

Lately, I have seen a recurrence of wedge politics and unbridled nationalism. Nationalism is wonderful, but it can also turn toxic if not cultivated by good sense.

I've cheered Labour on as they created the NHS and built affordable homes.

I've also watched Tories like Margaret Thatcher impose harsh economic and social cruelty on Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England and call it progress.

And I have seen, to my dismay, Labour stumble and lose their way, like when they helped cause mayhem in Iraq whilst ignoring their heartlands like Scotland and Yorkshire.

in to end However, over the past five years, I have witnessed Labour recapturing their spirit of 1945.

by SNP SMITH They have fought a strong battle against the Tory Government, corporate tax-avoiders and the wellfunded but ideologically bankrupt right-wing media.

They have been a strong voice of reason and compassion during the cruel darkness of a Tory-induced austerity that is even more sinister than the Great Depression I endured.

And that's because this modern financial famine has fractured our country and propelled the honourable and proud nation of Scotland to the precipice of independence.

As a Yorkshire man and a unionist, I am not alarmed by the SNP's wish to separate from Britain. I welcome all debate about how these isles should be governed.

During the referendum, I kept quiet on the basis that Scottish independence was a matter for Scotland. I will do the same when the SNP call their next referendum, which may be sooner rather than later.

However, I can't keep silent about the threat to social justice caused by those Labour supporters who, from frustration, anger and despair will vote SNP, hoping their lives will improve by having a nationalist party in Westminster.

Yes, the SNP's rhetoric on austerity is passionate. But I fear it is like the fabled pig and the poke story, because a strong vote for the SNP means fewer Labour MPs. …

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