5 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Thirty-eight years ago a guy called Pete Carter organised a protest march. Called the People’s March for Jobs, there were around 300 people who walked from Liverpool to London to protest about the Tory government policies pushed through by Thatcher and that had devastated the industrial heartlands of the north. Carter was a communist and fantastic orator and he could inspire the people that joined him on the march. Mike was 17 at the time and had left school and Pete, his father has asked him if he wanted to join them. He didn’t because of the history between them, rather he chose his own direction in life.
It was after Pete had died and they were sorting through his effects, he found a mug that commemorated the march in a box with letters and other things. Realising it was approaching 35 years since it had taken place he booked time off work and decided to walk the same route. Partly it was to see if he could understand his dad and partly to take the pulse of the country just before the 2016 referendum. He would see if he could find some of those that walked the march the first time too. He booked his one-way train ticket to Liverpool.
His walk would take him from there to Warrington, onto Manchester and then to Macclesfield. Other towns he walks through include Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Coventry and then through the northern Home Counties. He stops to talk to as many people as he can, explaining the reasons why he is following the same route as the original marchers 35 years ago. He tells those who will listen to him, why he is doing it and asks how people are going to be voting in the up and coming referendum. He notes that the price of a pint seems to rise a penny each mile he gets nearer to London. It is also a walk back through his past too, as he revisits his tempestuous relationship that he and his sister had with his father. Some of the people he meets up with on his walk knew his father and were with him on the original march. They had a very different view of the man than he did.
The answers to his questions are quite eye-opening, not only in the way that people were intending on voting but also as a damming indictment of decades of Tory policy that left people in the former industrial heartlands without jobs or a future. Almost all of the reasons that his father originally organised the march in 1981 were still valid today. The only thing missing now is hope, as these people have been the casualties of the neo-liberal policies. All of this injustice makes Carter seethe with fury and that comes across as he pours his frustrations and passion into the writing of this book. He is open and honest about the problems that he had with his father throughout out his life and tries to understand what drove his father to be the person he was and goes some way to reconciliation with the memories that he had of him. All of these things combined are what make this such a good book and an essential read on the political health of our country.