Reverend and the makers of socialist paradise in Sheffield

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Well I never, Rev Billings is standing for Labour to be a Police Commissar, supported by MPs Clive Betts and David Blunkett.

Older Sheffielders will recall these three in the heady days of their youth on Sheffield Council, when they aimed to turn the city into a socialist paradise – a mini East Germany. No British troops within the boundary, twinning with Soviet Donetsk and Sandinista Esteli, rather than fellow steel cities Bochum and Pittsburgh, red flag flying high, centralised state control of our industries. I meanly compared them, Billings, Blunkett and Betts, to a firm of dodgy solicitors at the time.

Time rolls on and we all, hopefully, mature. As the Frenchman said: “If you’re not a Socialist before you are 20, you’ve no heart. If you’re a Socialist after 30, you’ve no brain! Communist states collapsed in 1989, mired in totalitarian corruption.

The two MPs certainly, over the last decade have worked hard for Sheffield. Apart from one blip by Clive Betts, who, when the ruling Lib Dems backed a few gobby locals in new houses at Woodhouse, who didn’t want their view of derelict railway land spoiled by a National Rail Engineering Centre, said Network Rail would only be welcome if they put grass on the roof.

Network Rail took its plans for the prestigious national project, with 160 engineering jobs plus apprenticeships, away from Sheffield. The city of Derby couldn’t believe its luck, as the Lib Dems celebrated losing the business (then lost power).

I must finally mention another firebrand, ex-steelman (a very rare breed in Westminister) Richard Caborn. He along with fellow Sheffielder, Seb Coe, got the 2012 Olympics to London. If he succeeds with the Don Valley project he deserves a medal as big as a dustbin lid.

Don Alexander