You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

Critical Mass is having a short break. The month of August should give the core team time to breathe and focus on all those jobs that have been neglected over the previous year.

Breaks, no matter how short, are also times for reflection. Critical Mass, I am sure, will mean different things to each member of the team, but all of us have found our way there because of a burning anger at the huge injustices we are aware of daily and the growing realisation that political parties as we know them are not the answer. Getting our ideas down on paper and sharing our thoughts with a growing group of like-minded subscribers has, at the very least, been cathartic.

It wasn’t always like this. I grew up up on a Cardiff council estate in the decades after the second world war where political allegiances were almost tribal. I recall standing at the corner of our street as a child during a General Election whooping and cheering when the Labour cars with their blaring loudspeakers went past. There was a very different reaction to the blue Tory cars who inched their way nervously through the rows of prefabs and council houses. They were greeted with the loudest boos we could muster. As children, we thought we knew who was on our side. There was also no doubt in our minds that we were working class. Cardiff’s council house building programme created large estates that were very separate from the middle-class areas. Once you gave your address there was no doubt which side of the tracks you were on. My father’s middle-class background meant that he was aspirational, but this was translated into a burning hatred of the Tories and the establishment. Throughout his life, he would continue to talk with derision about Harold McMillan’s speech in 1957 when he said, “Most of our people have never had it so good”.

When I started work with a trade union at the age of 22, I still felt comfortable and unquestioning in my political beliefs. I am not politically naïve. There were and always will be divisions within the Left, but we were fighting the Tories. We were campaigning against Thatcher’s neoliberal agenda that saw a generation of working class people demonised and swathes of the public sector privatised. We knew who our enemy was. Things were simple.

Then Blair won the General Election in 1997, and the problems and the confusion started. Suddenly, Blair was following a similar agenda to Thatcher, but those of us working on the anti-privatisation campaign were told not to rock the boat. The rest is history. The Iraq war followed, and my membership of the Labour Party ended.

There was a brief interlude of hope under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership when I rejoined the Labour Party. The sense of optimism and solidarity at the Durham Miners’ Gala in 2017 and campaigning in a marginal that same year that saw the Tory unseated by a left-wing Labour candidate will stay with me for the rest of my life.

But we have now hit a new low with Starmer as leader. He lied to win the leadership vote and has continued not only to move the Labour Party away from its grassroots support base but has launched a wholesale attack on committed and hard-working members. I actually think I dislike him more than the Tories.

So, this brings me full circle to Critical Mass. I found Critical Mass at a low point. I missed my active role under Corbyn’s Labour Party. I felt homeless with no outlet for my political frustration. In working with the core group, I have found friendship, fun, support, challenge, the opportunity for political discussion and a sense of no longer being on the margins. It was Dave Middleton’s dream, and he has managed to inspire a small group of people to give up their time to help him realise this dream.

We all hope that the first class publication that has been created is not an end in itself and that it will make a growing number of people question the dominant ideology to which we are all subjected on a daily basis.­­ Only in this way will we achieve the transformative changes necessary to ensure the ending we all want to see.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the process of getting there.

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