Thursday 8 December 2016

Why my father, a WWI veteran, would have voted to Remain

Robert Fisk

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

A stretcher party carries a wounded soldier through the mud during the Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders. Photo by John Warwick Brooke/Getty Images
A stretcher party carries a wounded soldier through the mud during the Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders. Photo by John Warwick Brooke/Getty Images

Britain, right or wrong. The old saying was referred to by George Osborne in the aftermath of the referendum. My Dad also used to say it, just to make me mad. Born in 1899 and married to a much younger woman - my mother Peggy was only 25 when she married Bill in 1945 - he was a brave soldier of the Great War, a hard-working chartered accountant, a man who believed in paying his bills on time, who was scrupulously loyal to his wife and his friends but who, alas, could be a bigot, a bully, an outrageous racist, a pint-in-the-hand enemy of immigration.

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Long after he'd retired as Borough Treasurer of Maidstone, he continued to work voluntarily for the National Savings movement, and he'd return from London in the late 1960s complaining that everyone he'd seen on the Tube train had been "as black as the ace of spades".

Some of this was said to enrage his precocious, arrogant, super-liberal lefty late-teenage son. Bill liked to argue - to the point where I would later abandon him and my poor Mum in Maidstone, and storm off back to my reporting assignments in Belfast or Beirut in the hope that I wouldn't have to see him for many years.

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