This morning, as most mornings, I am pottering about the internet, considering the day ahead and eating breakfast. I see a post on Facebook, Tony Benn RIP. Suddenly, my brain processes the information and a sadness hits my heart. This is a man I have met, spent time with on a Saturday afternoon, listening to him talk, a man I have heard speak countless times and who I feel connected to in many ways.
I have known about him all my life. My Dad would talk politics endlessly, as a shop steward he understood politics from a working class viewpoint. A child of the 1920’s, just as Tony Benn, the differences between the two men were both as obvious as the similarities. My Dad’s family were poor beyond belief. He remembered standing with his Dad, my grandfather, in the pen in the docks in Liverpool waiting to be picked for a days work knowing that without it they wouldn’t eat. Dad had hope and optimism for my generation, he thought we would be better, would work together and build on the positives.
Dad talked about fairness, equality, racism and poverty at a time when no one else I knew did so. He taught me how to celebrate difference, about unity and power. He finished school at 13, and while he regretted his lack of education he was determined and proud to ensure he gave us, his daughters, the best he could.
My Dad admired Tony Benn, he saw him as an ally and a political friend. So, as I have tears running down my face at the news this morning, in truth only part of those are for Tony Benn. Mostly it is for loss, for endings and for unsaid. It is for my generation, who from where I am standing have totally messed up the world my Dad thought we would create. It is for those people who have no hope, for the greedy and powerful who chose not to share, to be kind and to look about them. It is for the death of Socialism, without my Dad and Tony Benn and the people like them who is going to fight for the working man and woman? It is for me, at the end of a career I have loved and treasured, and is for those yet to be, our children’s children and the world they will live in.
All is not bad. The tears are serving their purpose, emotion is a good thing. Positives will come there is hope and there is a life to be celebrated.
Today I will walk tall, I will remember my heritage and celebrate my politics. I will be thankful I had a Dad who cared enough to share his views, his history and his beliefs with me, although I lost my dear Dad almost 30 years ago, he is with me every day, and today I can feel him, standing behind me, and he is proud, I am doing alright. Thanks Dad. Thanks Tony. RIP both.