Monday, October 23, 2006

Cry Hungary

Fifty years ago tonight I lay in bed aged 13 listening to the reports of the uprising in Budapest. It is ironic that there is trouble in Budapest tonight! In 1956 the people were taking on the Russians; today there is division at home over the dishonesty of the government.

The Hungarian uprising was my political baptism. I knew nothing of politics, or democracy and oppression. I just listened all day and all night to the reports coming from Hungary of ordinary and often unarmed people facing up to the power of the soviets. This bravery was very impressive to me, a teenager. I wanted to be Hungarian, not British! I wanted to be there with the excitement and emotion of the fight. I knew nothing of the pain of living under the Soviet yoke, or the pain of death in this uprising. It was David and Goliath, and I wanted to be David.

The uprising (or was it a revolution?) changed my life, leaving me with a revulsion for "the Russians" as we called them, but not so strong that within a few years I saw capitalism as a greater threat. So today, after a lifetime of support for a political party and ideology which some might call socialism (not many I think) what is left? It is not for me to comment on Hungary and its people; their past is past, their future is theirs! But I have to say thank you ..... for my commitment to the poor against the rich, the weak against the strong, can be traced to the events in 1956 in the streets around Hősök Tere and Andrassy Avenue. so.... thank you for that. Without your struggle and the example of the Hungarian people, I would not be the person I am today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hero and Orator

Neil Kinnock, the man who rescued the Labour Party from impending oblivion, spoke at events in Manchester at the party Conference in late September. Great man, great orator, great photos!

Neil Kinnock was born eight months before and just a few miles from me. Always my hero both for his great oratory laced with Welsh fervour, and for the way he made Labour electable during the late 80s.