1979 – My political awakening

The Liberal Party leaflet scanned above is from the period of my party political awakening and as I’ve said before on this blog site I ended up joining the old Liberal Party on New Year’s day 1980. I mention it now because my dear friend Peter Gibson presented me with the leaflet a few days ago as he thought I’d like and appreciate it. He was right.

My original grasp at politics was with a small ‘p’ when I decided to become an activist in my trade union IRSF (Inland Revenue Staff Federation) in 1978 and it was only after this that my thoughts turned to politics with a big ‘P’. I was sure I was not a Conservative as at the time I lived with a sometimes card-carrying one (my Dad) but frankly I was not particularly well versed in party politics. This pondering was brought to a head by my old friend Andrew Beattie who sadly died back in 1999. Andrew obtained the 1979 GE manifestos of the 3 major political parties; well he did work in a book shop! Anyway, we set about reading and debating them; him from a left-leaning household, me from a right-leaning household. In the end, we both concluded we were in fact Liberals by instinct and joined the party of that name together, at Peter Gibson’s house, on the 1st day of 1980.

It soon became clear to me that the Liberals were streets ahead of Labour in terms of worker rights and and worker participation in companies. I recall listening to policies outlined by the likes of Richard Wainright MP and thinking that’s what I think too. Richard saw Labour as a party tinkering around the edges of employment issues but without the courage to really empower workers in the workplace. I liked the idea of worker cooperatives, mutuals, and meaningful worker participation in companies as opposed to the ‘us and them’ approach to industrial relations offered and indeed promoted by Labour and Tories.

It’s interesting that this old political leaflet talks of a ‘A new industrial partnership that gives workers equal rights with shareholders, joint decision making, employee ownership and profit sharing’ and those ideas are still needed over 40 years later!

I met Steel once in Liverpool and saw him on many more occasions. He was a good political performer although having developed my true political opinions to one of being a Social Liberal I must admit he was actually selling a moderate centrist outlook which with hindsight (always a wonderful thing) lacked a truly radical Liberal edge.

So interesting memories were brought back to mind by a historic political leaflet.

Today would have been Uncle Albert’s 100th birthday

My good friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker at Birkenhead Tramway Museum next to a restored Wallasey tram that he rode on as a boy.

If my dear Uncle Albert had made it he would have been 100 today; frankly many of us who knew him well very much expected him to make the milestone but sadly it did not come to pass and my obituary from 2017 is linked below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/01/11/goodbye-uncle-albert/

I don’t really commemorate such anniversaries but I make an exception in Uncle Albert’s case because he was exceptional. A man whom I did not get to know until he was 74 became a very close friend indeed and I loved being in his company. He was funny, cheeky, well informed, and had led a fascinating life which he loved to tell folks about. All you had to do was to sit down and listen to him and take in his wartime and wider experiences and you learned so much. His mind seemed to be one of a young man which was open to learning more and he was able to make friends with anyone he came across. I never met anyone who did not like Charles Walker – Uncle Albert was his nickname which many of his friends used.

I still miss him terribly as I could run things past him, seek his advice, and as I said before learn from his wide range of experiences.

Andrew Blackburn and I would tease him unmercifully about him being the living embodiment of the part played by Buster Merryfield in Only Fools and Horses and he loved it. Indeed, he even changed his name badge at a conference we attended with him to ‘Uncle Albert’!

Happy Birthday Uncle Albert; I know you’re not looking down on me as I’m an atheist and don’t do heaven and earth. However, the other big tease we had with Charles was that if he went anywhere it would be downwards due to the terrible and very rude RAF songs he would occasionally launch into! The first time he did it was on a car journey with Andrew Beattie (who sadly passed on in 1999), Andrew Blackburn, and myself. To say we were taken aback is putting it mildly but the 4 of us became very firm friends from that day onward – we knew we’d come across a right one!

Note – Charles lived in Poverty Lane Maghull from 1960 until his death and was a Maghull Town Councillor for 15 years or more up to the age of 90. He was originally from the Wirral but had also lived in Bootle. His daughter Carole, son-in-law Phil, grandsons, David, Michael, and their families are today holding an online quiz in his memory as he loved to attend the quizzes that were once a weekly fixture of Maghull Town Hall.

Maghull – Audrey Beattie – Sorry you’re leaving

Audrey Beattie has been well known face across Maghull for many a year now having lived in in the Town since the 1960’s firstly in Pimbley Grove West and in more recent times at Mayhall Court on Westway. She worked for quite a number of years at the Maghull Homes (now Parkhaven Trust) at both the Kiffin Taylor and Alexander Homes.

She has served as a Maghull Town Councillor and her son Andrew Beattie was both a Town and Borough Councillor (and indeed Town Mayor in 1996/97) who sadly died suddenly in 1999. Audrey has been a regular attender at St. Peter’s Church in Moorhey Road and with the Focus Group at Maghull Baptist Church

Now in her 80’s Andrey is moving to Cleveleys to be nearer to her daughter Alison.

I first got to know Audrey when I was around 12 years of age and she was a tough lady indeed. Any teenagers larking around could expect her to stand no messing. I still expect her to shoot first and ask questions later so to speak. My abiding memory of Audrey is that she is not someone to suffer fools gladly and we came up with a phrase that we thought summed her up when she was a councillor. The phrase? – Audrey has just given so and so a good hand-bagging. I think I may have been on the end of a few of them myself:-)

We will miss you Audrey – good luck for many more happy years in Cleveleys.

With thanks to Andrew Blackburn for his help with this posting and providing the photograph

Maghull – Sustrans – Merseyside North Volunteers win the TESCO jackpot!

merseysidenorth.blogspot.co.uk/2016_03_01_archive.html

Here’s some great environmental/green news for Maghull – see link above

I covered this story a while back – here’s the link back to that article:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/03/03/sustrans-the-cheshire-lines-path-merseyside-north-volunteers/

A shot I took a couple of years ago of the access path off Sefton Drive to the Cheshire Lines Path and the dumped rubbish that the area suffers from.

A shot I took a couple of years ago of the access path off Sefton Drive to the Cheshire Lines Path and the dumped rubbish that the area suffers from.

So congratulations are due to the intrepid Merseyside North Sustrans volunteers for winning the top prize. It will be interesting to see how their project develops as this access point to the Cheshire Lines/Trans Pennine Trail has long been a mess.

By the way I found this old photo amongst my collection. It is taken from the very spot that the volunteers are going to improve looking up at the old Cheshire Lines Sefton Lane railway bridge parapet. Of course that is now long gone with the bridge gap itself also filled in. All that’s left is a hump in Sefton Lane. The photo is from the early 1980’s and the people in it are Marie Borland, Andrew Beattie (sadly passed away) and Dave Roscoe. Marie and Andrew were both Maghull Town councillors at the time.

Marie Borland, Andrew Beattie & Dave Roscoe - Old Cheshire Lines Bridge Sefton Ln ,Maghull