The Anonymous Widower

My Father Has Been Proved Right!

My father described himself as a left-wing Tory. Today, he would probably have approved of the views of the likes of Michael Hesseltine or Kenneth Clarke.

I’m not sure what he actually did in politics, but I do know that he once worked at the League of Nations in Geneva before the Second World War. During the war, he was for some time a Civil Servant, but apart from one or two clues, I don’t know much. I should have a look at Kew and the web site.

I also know that I never heard him say anything racist and when someone questioned why he actually printed letterheads and wedding stationery for the local black community in Wood Green, he rebuked them by saying that as long as their money had the Queen’s head on it, he’d do business with everyone.

I also know that he was firmly anti-fascist and was at the Battle of Cable Street, where as he said, all the East End stopped Mosley and his Blackshirt thugs, marching through.

Recently, I took a taxi, where the driver had had talks with his Jewish grandfather, who had also been at Cable Street. His grandfather, like my father was adamant that it was not just the communists who stopped Mosley, but a wide alliance of right-thinking people in the East End.

I use the term London Mongrel to describe myself and my father used it himself, in my presence a couple of times, which is where I picked it up. You have to remember that the Nazis referred to people who were part-Jewish as mischling, which roughly means mongrel or half-breed. My father wasn’t Jewish but his great-great-grandfather, who I refer to as the Tailor of Bexley, was probably a Prussian Jew, who had run away from Napoleon.

As the term dates from the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, it would very much have been a term of the time my father was on the fringe of politics, so it is no surprise that he used it.

Incidentally, I’m probably more of a mongrel than my father, as my mother’s father was a Huguenot engraver and her mother was a posh lady born in Dalston Junction from Devonian yeoman stock with the surname of Upcott. Cullompton Museum told me that the family were very much involved in the development of worsted serge and made a fortune from it.  This section in the Cullumpton Wikipedia entry, says more about the cloth trade and the Upcotts.

I once asked my father, if he’d ever wanted to stand as an MP and he replied that he’d been asked to put his name forward as a candidate for a by-election, but a young Duncan Sandys was chosen instead, which my father thought was probably the right choice.

Searching Wikipedia says that this was the Norwood By-election of 1935. Wikipedia says this.

The by-election was held due to the resignation of the incumbent Conservative MP, Walter Greaves-Lord. It was won by the Conservative candidate Duncan Sandys.

An Independent Conservative candidate was fielded at the by-election by Randolph Churchill, who sponsored Richard Findlay, a member of the British Union of Fascists to stand. This got no support from the press or from any Members of Parliament, despite Randolph being the son of Winston Churchill. Ironically, in September that year, Duncan Sandys became son-in-law of Winston and brother-in-law of Randolph by marrying Diana, the former’s daughter.

Knowing my father’s strong anti-fascist views, it fits with his version of the tale. The other thing that fits, is that although my father had met and liked Winston Churchill, he had no time for his son, Randolph.

Indirectly, I think I benefited from my father’s political contacts, as after the war, when he rebuilt his printing business in Wood Green, his largest customer was Enfield Rolling Mills, whose Managing Director was John Grimston, the Earl of Veralem, who was eight years younger than my father and had been MP for St. Albans a couple of times.

When in the early sixties I needed a summer job to earn money and I couldn’t have my usual one in his print works, as my father’s business was bad, my father phoned the Earl and asked if he had something that would suit.

The Earl of Veralem said yes and I had a very good job in the Electronics Laboratory for two summers, where I learned an amazing amount about life and making things.

I have no idea of the Earl’s politics except that he was a Conservative MP and very much thought to be a good boss of the company, by those with whom I worked.

One view of my father’s though, was that as he hated the likes of Hitler and Stalin equally, he said several times to me, that the extreme left are no different to the extreme right.

Reading this article on the BBC entitled Livingstone Stands By Hitler Comments, I can only conclude that the Labour Party has proved my father to be right.

April 30, 2016 - Posted by | World | , , , , , ,

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