Bill’s Story

grunwick[check against delivery]

I don’t want to make a political speech tonight. I want to tell you a story. Because, you know, my people tell me that telling stories makes me seem ‘real’ and sincere.

So tonight, I want to tell you about somebody that I met once. Let’s call him Bill. I used to meet Bill at the petrol station, where we would chat happily while we were filling up our cars. Bill used to be a staunch supporter of the Labour Party. He joined the Labour Party as a young man, full of hopes about changing society, eradicating poverty and instituting equality. Long ago, in times gone by when people did this sort of thing, Bill would go along to his local party meeting and discuss ideas with other socialists. They would argue together, campaign together and socialise together. Sometimes it would get quite raucous, but at least it was interesting.

Gradually, however, strangers in suits appeared in Bill’s party – odd people who didn’t seem to speak Bill’s language and didn’t share the same values. He couldn’t help but feeling resentful and wish they’d go back to where they’d come from. But they stuck around, replacing the debates with “business” and the campaigning with something they called #labourdoorstep. Bit by bit, they took over the party, bringing their friends from far away (London). One of them became the constituency MP and the rest her acolytes. Bill’s friends disappeared. He felt like a stranger in his own party.

Then one day he opened his laptop that he’d been bought by his daughter last Christmas, and clicked on the link to the GMB website on his favourites. By coincidence, his union was live streaming the Labour leadership hustings, where the leading candidate of the centre left was telling a story about a UKIP voter who sat on his own at work, because no one spoke his language. Bill cast his mind back to his youth, and how he stood on picket lines in #solidarity with Gujerati women at Grunwick. He sighed heavily and wondered whether we couldn’t do better than this?

Actually, we can – go to Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader

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