Forty three years ago in fact when I was 17 years old I walked past the RAF recruitment office in Middlesbrough on my way back home from somewhere and something made me go inside and ask questions. By the time I came out I’d arranged to go in for IQ and psychological testing and decide what job I thought I was going to be good at.
I passed the IQ test easily and then had a one to one with a senior officer to discuss the whys and wherefores of what I’d chosen to do and if I was suitable for the RAF. He questioned the fact that I’d chosen a low grade job (parachute packing) and said I was officer material and would be recommended for an acceleration program. It shocked me as I’d always been told by my teachers, apart from the ones who taught me English, that I was a bit thick. I’d just been bored apparently.
An appointment was made for my final interview and I think I was the most excited out of all the people who were also having theirs that day. I was so excited I gabbled a bit in the interview and was shocked when I was told that I would not be accepted into the RAF and that it was unlikely that I’d been accepted into any of the other armed forces or the police. I burst into tears and ran from the recruitment office.
Fast forward to 1989 when I was applying for a pub licence and things got a little strange. When you apply for a pub licence the local police sergeant talks to you about your suitability to run a pub, talks to the outgoing landlord and then decides whether or not to raise objections. I didn’t hear from the sergeant and I naturally wondered what was going on.
Two police officers visited me at home one Sunday morning to discuss “things”. They ordered my husband out of the house telling him to take our dog for a walk. He protested and they made it quite clear that if he didn’t leave of his own accord then they would make him leave. He did as he was told.
The senior of the two officers told me they were Special Branch and pulled out a file a couple of inches thick and began going through it. My grandfather’s involvement with the IRA, my father’s visit to Donegal (which I never knew had happened) after his National Service, a guy who I met in a night club whose brother was in the IRA all added up, in their eyes at least, to me being a member or at least a sympathiser of the IRA.
There are only two reasons that you don’t get accepted for the armed forces and one is that you have a criminal record which I haven’t and the other is that you are a terrorist or a suspected terrorist.
They went through the file. Transcripts of phone calls, stills from videos, photographs of people I was talking to, photographs of me waiting about in places – countless photos, video stills and phone transcriptions.
I was told that this time they wouldn’t object to a licence but that if I even so much as looked as though I was going to have a “political” meeting in the pub then I’d be spending time in prison.
They told me that they’d never let me go, that I’d always be a person of interest though these days given the way things are going I’m less of an interest.
So what does this have to do with Jeremy Corbyn. He is a public figure, he is not afraid to put his head above the parapet and if he was a terrorist or a suspected terrorist then he would not be in public office. If there were serious suspicions of him associating with terrorists then believe me, he wouldn’t be in the Labour Party let alone the leader of it.
The hysteria around his “links” to terrorism are just that, hysteria. I don’t believe for a moment that it’s true.
I’ve met Jeremy Corbyn and he is an open book. His body language backs up the words he speaks, he is sincere and he is the kind of leader that I need in our Party.
I have a huge mental illness that never goes away. It’s not that long ago that people like me were locked in asylums and kept in straightjackets. When I saw my first psychiatrist I had to go to a secure mental hospital and every door I went through was locked before the next one was open. I was 15 and terrified.
My only income is state benefits which is a hellish way to live. We all dread the brown envelope appearing on the doormat.
Jeremy Corbyn is attuned to my needs and the way that I need to live safely and I am entitled to that security.
I need a Labour government led by a person who understands that the Party was formed to help those who lived in red brick houses not those who were monied and went to red brick universities.
I have no doubt that people will disagree with me on this but let me assure you, if Jeremy Corbyn were an terrorist or a sympathiser of terrorism he would not be holding the public office that he does today. I have had an experience that few have had that proves that point.