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Posted on 16 May 2012 at 12:35 GMT

Why I joined the Socialist Party

'Socialism: the thinking person's economics!'

Ravi Patel, West London Socialist Party

My seven-year-old saw me reading the pamphlet 1917 - The Year that Changed the World, by Peter Taafe and Hannah Sell.

"What's that?" he demanded. "What's it about?"I resorted to that phrase well known to fathers everywhere. "Umm... Errr... Hmm... Errmm..."

"What is it about?" So what the hell, I figured. I've explained why Doctor Who's Tardis is smaller on the outside and big on the inside, and what the acronym T-A-R-D-I-S stands for (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). I can try and explain the Russian Revolution and Karl Marx. "It's about somebody named Karl Marx," I said. "It's about why he was right."

"Right about what?"

"About not liking capitalism. He didn't like capitalism."

Blank stare.

"Do you know what capitalism is?" I asked. "No."

"Okay, you know how everybody buys and sells everything?"

"Yeah?"

"That's capitalism. And Marx didn't like it." He had an expression halfway between incredulity and boredom. "Why didn't he like it?"

"Well, with the system where everybody buys and sells and tries to make as much money as they can, you end up with some people who have a lot of money who own the factories, and then some people have only a little money and work in the factories. And Marx thought that was unfair. He said that the people who work in the factories should own the factories."

"Oh." Pause for thought. "That makes sense." "Yes," I said. "But some people really don't like that idea."

Then his eyes lit up. "The factory owners don't like it, I bet!"

So there you have it. Socialist ideas are intuitive enough that even a seven-year old can understand them.

But in 2001 I was an approved candidate for the Conservative Party to stand in the local elections. For most of my life I had been a Tory supporter. I thought that if the leftists got into government, democracy and freedom would be rejected in favour of a Stalinist totalitarian regime with bread queues extending for miles.

I believed the capitalist propaganda, after all with the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, things were not looking awfully good for socialism in general.

In November 2005 I went to Dubai and started consultant work in the booming real estate sector. I turned a blind eye to the slave labour conditions that existed to build these magnificent palaces on artificial islands in the sea, and tried to justify to myself that it was part of life which I had no control over.

In August 2007 my mother fell over while disembarking from a bus en route to Southall, west London. She suffered severe head injuries, and as a consequence her Parkinson's disease was made worse. Being the only son, I left my job in Dubai and became a full time carer looking after my mother 24 hours a day.

Ealing council, hampered by budget cuts, failed to provide my mother with an adequate service in terms of regular respite care and all the necessary apparatus.

At this point in time I started to question my belief in capitalism, I felt ashamed that during my good times I was happy being a capitalist, and now during the bad times, I was dancing to a different tune.

The financial crisis kicked off in late 2008, the banks were failing, and national governments were bailing out the entire banking system with bailout after bailout with no end in sight. I felt totally disgusted with crony capitalism, bailouts for the rich and cuts for the poor.

The UK government spent 117 billion buying shares in banks and lending directly to financial institutions, the National Audit Office calculated. That represented a liability of 5,530 for every one of the 21.1 million families in Britain. So it's socialism for the rich and austerity for the working class, how can this be fair?

So it hit me: socialism is the thinking man's economics.

The choice should be rather obvious to you. You can believe that New Labour and the Con-Dems have the working class person's best interests at heart. Or, if not, if you have to hesitate and think about that for even a couple of seconds, then maybe you're just a 'closet socialist' and too scared to admit it!

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