Posted on 12/03/2021Comments Off on IAN GILLIES

When did you first attend the SODEM protest outside Parliament and why did you come? 

I think it was February 2018. I had admired what Steve was doing. All I remember was that it was freezing cold and snowing.

Roughly how old are you?


How frequently did you come and when was the last time you attended?

I came 5 or 6 times – I can’t remember the last visit. Notable occasions were Cakes not Hate, which inspired me to come for the Pies not Lies and make my first Spanakopita. I “think” the last time I attended was when UKIP turned up in force with Dick Brain wearing his silly bowler hat, and the day when the cab strike closed the streets to traffic, and we marched down to Downing Street.

How far from Westminster do you live and what was your travelling time?

Reading – usually about 1-1/2 hours journey-time.

What’s your favourite memory?

Days when it didn’t rain! My favourite day was probably Pies not Lies as I love pies! Other highpoints were meeting some really lovely people like Peter Dollins, Sandra Easton-Lawrence, Linda Christie and Yvonne Wancke, and chatting with passers-by.

Tell me your story

I have always been a keen European and after retiring I had hoped to be able to spend ever-increasing amounts of time in my beloved Greece. I don’t really have any close friends in the UK as my work was in the city of London and took me away from home every day from 5:30 often until after 21:00pm, so most friends were through work and from all over the South East.

My real friends were from all over Europe, and we met up through the summer in our favourite part of Greece indulging in our shared interests of windsurfing, cycling and socialising. We talked a lot about the EU and especially why the British (by which they mean the English) were always so semi-detached from the European venture. So many (friendly) arguments, but I grew to know people from pretty much every country in the EU. We were in Greece in June 2016 in our usual place in “our” campsite parked next to an English couple. On the morning of the result, we were physically stunned and we both cried at the senseless loss and the stupidity of the vote and the result. That day we nearly came to blows with the neighbour, a husband and wife who had voted both remain (the kind sensible wife) and leave (the strutting little Englander husband).

On that day I determined to try to do what I could to resist and fight to turn the decision round. I joined a local Remain group which I found through Facebook and attended events at Reading Uni where I heard A.C Grayling talk. I have never demonstrated, but I decided to go to London to my first demo opposite Downing Street where I first encountered Madeleine and met a few others. The main impression that I was left with, was that we would not be successful unless we could scale up. That day there was also an anti-trump demo that surged down Whitehall and it occurred to me that we needed to demonstrate on that scale.

I attended all the major London marches (except those in the summer when we were in Greece) and also in Leeds where my daughter lives. The main thing that persuaded me that I was right, was that the whole family shared my views on the EU and my daughters also attended marches with us as well as cousins who I had not seen for years but who shared our beliefs. My sister and brother-in-law had voted leave. Both had been there to see members of my family and his let down badly by the NHS and they had bought the story on the bus. True lexiters. I cut off my sister but attended marches with her children who could not understand their parents views. Long story short in the end my sister realised that they had been lied to and one of happiest days was when we marched together in London.

I joined every Facebook group and serve as a moderator on the 48%. I am now pretty depressed about the situation we are in. I joined the Lib-Dems having been a lifelong Labour-voter. I left the Lib-Dems when they gave in to Johnson and gave him the 2019 election. I joined Labour specifically to have a vote in the leadership election. Now I feel that a huge proportion of the country have no political representation and that terrifies me.

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