Had it not been for the kindness of an enemy soldier, I would never have existed.
The BBC is filming stories of MPs’ parents in World War1. My father James Flynn was a great patriot. In 1914 at the age of 15 he volunteered to join the Army to stop the Huns bayonetting Belgian babies.
He was a machine gunner. To both sides they were pariahs to be killed, never to be taken prisoner. After three years on the frontline he was badly injured by a shell at Ploegstreet on April 10th 1918. Marooned in a foxhole in no-mans-land, he could not distance himself from the machine gun that was lying on top of him.
A German speaking patrol approached. He prayed using his rosary; shut his eyes, waiting for the bullet to blow his brains out. It never came. The German soldiers carried him on their backs to a field hospital. He would otherwise have bled to death unattended in the foxhole. The patrol officer was from Cologne. His name was Paul.
My father’s life had been saved but he was broken in spirit. He could never do what he called a ‘man’s job’ ever again. In 1935 he was embittered when an ungrateful nation reduced his already pitifully small pension. A money-saving tribunal decided his health problems were not ‘attributed’ to his war wounds but had been ‘aggravated’ by them. He had volunteered as a perfectly fit 15 year old. He died aged 41.
Recently I walked in the fields of Ploegstreet where my father had suffered grievously. The names of thousands of his fallen comrades are cut into the town’s massive war memorial. But for a stroke of good fortune my father’s name would have been among them.
David Cameron warned that lobbying would be the next big scandal. His Gagging Bill remedy was debated last week.
It’s been tarted up. But putting lipstick on a pig does not change the nature of the beast. It’s a legislative atrocity, contemptuous of parliament that fails to reform corporate abuses while hammering blameless charities
The message is: 'Carry on lobbying. The rich and advantaged are still free to buy power and influence for themselves.
Conservative donors gave £43 million to the party in the past two years to buy private meetings with the PM and others. Cameron is right. The next scandal has happened-in his own backyard.