Paul Smyth

So this is really my chance to say who I am and what I’m about, well here goes.

I’m often called a socialist because I oppose the Tory party and all they stand for, well I suppose that’s what they call anyone who opposes them but I’m not. Not that I have a problem with socialists, that word has been unfairly besmirched over the years. I’d rather have a friend who believes in a benevolent society where those with the most to give look after those with the least than a selfish capitalist who believes in looking down his nose at those with the misfortune to earn less than him. Where people ensure that the elderly lady living in the house down the street is checked on, has her bins put out. Given a lift with her shopping etc. I call that Social Justice. I call it Humanism. Caring about your fellow Man (in the sense of species not sex).

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Marin Luther King

I don’t consider myself better or worse than anyone else and I will neither look down upon someone nor look up to them. I was raised to consider myself everyone’s equal and they mine.

I am greatly influenced by my late Father who come to England from Ireland with nothing aged 16, just ten shillings in his pocket. He came to a country that had signs on most of the guest houses and “digs” that said simply “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish”. He couldn’t read much but he soon understood what that meant. He quickly realised he would have to rely on his own ingenuity rather than the kindness of others and why not? He’d been a successful registered greyhound trainer since the age of 13 in Ireland, he also cut branches off trees, shaped them and painted them black to sell as shillelaghs to tourists. So he bought a big tin of whitewash and a paint brush and whitewashed fences for shilling a time and tripled his money. Self reliance is the lesson I learned from that story, don’t wait for anyone else to do it, do it yourself.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning.

Fast forward 12 years or so and he was working as a cleaner, handyman, gopher and just about everything else in a Bingo hall. He pretty much ran the place but had a vile racist boss. After laying out all the seating and tables for the afternoon bingo his manager came in and kicked and entire row of chairs over (think dominoes) which he stated were “All f*cking wrong you Irish bastard”. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting much of a reaction from my Dad because no doubt, he’d tolerated a lot up until then and should be used to it. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting my Dad to break a chair across his back, but he did. “Nobody calls me an Irish bastard” He said. My Dad walked out and went across the road to the pub only to be summoned by his bosses manager. My Dad said “Just give me my cards and I’ll go” (for younger viewers this was the predecessor to the P45). The MD admonished Dad for his actions and reminded him that he could’ve been arrested but then informed my Dad that his manager had been sacked and would he like his job? Well of course he took it, and worked their for many years, that’s where he met my Mum. Lesson learned, stand up for yourself and let no man/woman put you down. Never give in to a bully, especially a Tory bully.

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.” – Abraham Lincoln

Many years later in the early ’90’s, having sold the shop we owned for 12 years my Dad was working as a handyman for a group of Care Homes in Tameside, after 3 years of pay freeze they were asked to take a pay cut across the board but worse, the night care workers were being asked to take a cut of £2 per hour. Enough was enough and on strike they went. My Dad was a Shop Steward and despite the fact that he was far from the worst affected, he went on strike, only to be betrayed later by some of the people he was striking for when they accepted a deal that was far from what they had striked for but he never regretted going on strike. Standing up for other people is as important as standing up for yourself. Selflessness was the lesson learned here.

These words are what I said at his funeral:
“Father – A Son’s first hero, A Daughter’s first love.

This is especially true of our Dad. He was always our hero, and we all loved him very dearly.
He set us an example that no matter what the odds, it was always worth fighting for what you believe in.
Nothing was ever given him on a plate, he worked for every penny he earned and taught himself everything he knew.
He was our Dad, our hero and our friend. He is the standard we measure ourselves against and always will be.
We will miss him dearly, love you Dad.”

I realise I’ve talked more of my Dad than myself, well that’s because I am simply an extension of what I learned from him, he probably never knew how much he gave me but I as paying more attention than he knew. The reason this is important is because he set me a lesson, a lesson that I am the example to my children so I must stand up to this despotic Government or what lesson am I teaching my children. They need to see me stand up and fight for what is right so that they will learn the lessons to apply to their lives that simply standing by while others suffer is not enough. You MUST stand up for what is right but you must NOT expect life to be handed to you on a plate (or a silver platter). You have to go out and get it, and it’s there to be taken.

Paul Smyth


  • <cite class="fn">john</cite>

    “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise.”

  • <cite class="fn">joshuachristian19691</cite>

    Well said Paul every word. Unfortunately my father wasn’t like that much of the time but I’m glad that yours was. What a wonderful person he must have been to be around.

    • <cite class="fn">Paul Smyth</cite>

      Thanks Josh, well to be honest as we were both very alike in many ways we could clash quite a lot and he certainly was not without his demons. He was a man to be admired, but like all men, flawed. I think if you listen to the U2 song “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own” which Bono wrote about his own father you’ll find that applies in my case. More important than all his flaws and virtues, he was a man who loved his children and showed it. Something that has enabled me to have a wonderful relationship with my own children.

  • <cite class="fn">katythenightowl</cite>

    Your story brought back such wonderful memories for me as my Dad, too, was Irish, and came over here with barely any money in his pockets, hardly able to read or write, but with big dreams. He had his flaws, like every man, but he did his best for all of us, so you can’t ask any more than that, can you? 🙂
    He, too, managed to bring up his family with that same work ethic, and belief in fairness, generosity, and a love for his fellow man.
    I lost both my parents this last year so, having these aspects of life to fight for, means even more to me than ever 🙂

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