SO it is the 1970s. A Jewish man is walking down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow when he’s mugged by two men. “Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?” he’s asked. “I’m Jewish,” he says. They think for a moment and say “But are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew?”
Let me declare an interest. I was born in Govan in Glasgow, in the 1950s. I love Glasgow. I also love Belfast. Two of the great power houses of the British Empire.
Visit them and you’ll see Civic Chambers, virtually identical in their Victorian grandeur.
Go into the pubs and shops and you’ll meet the friendliest, most generous people in the world.
But take my advice. Don’t visit either in mid July.
My childhood was blighted by religious bigotry and hatred. My Catholic ancestors moved from Northern Ireland to Glasgow after the famine and were met by signs in boarding houses which said ‘No Irish, No Dogs.’
In the Glasgow of the 60s and 70s, my childhood was a mirror image of kids from Belfast.
Living in Easterhouse, I’ll never forget the murder of my 11-year-old school friend Barry Murray, stabbed to death in a religion fired gangland feud in a tenement where I delivered the Sunday newspapers.
Barry was slightly built and couldn’t run as fast as the others.
We all know about the Celtic/Rangers football rivalry but how many know that in 1960s Glasgow you faced rejection if you told a potential employer that you’d gone to a Catholic school? Tell people your name and you could suffer exclusion.
Remember Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue? When I was born, my mother wanted to call me Patrick, but on reaching the registry office my father thought ‘Paddy McManus?’ He didn’t want me to suffer the prejudice he’d seen, so I was called George after my maternal grandfather. Thanks Dad.
Sadly it still goes on.
My fear is that the election result and history might well re-align in an almighty clash in the coming weeks.
The 12th of July is when Orangemen commemorate King William of Orange’s defeat of Catholic forces at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Over 300 years ago but they celebrate like it was yesterday. Flute and Pipe bands mount a fantastic and rousing spectacle which is great when you see it in Scarborough or York, but it takes a more sinister tone in Glasgow or Belfast where the music is designed not to commemorate but to reinforce hatred.
So what has all this got to do with Theresa May and the DUP?
The DUP was founded by the late Ian Paisley, that well known ‘chuckle brother’ who heckled the Pope when he visited the European Parliament with cries of ‘Satan’. The late Dr Paisley may have morphed into an elder statesman, but the party he left founded is still stuck in the language and traditions of the Middle Ages.
They aren’t the ‘compassionate Conservatives’ David Cameron spoke of. They believe that creationism should be taught in schools, that women should not have the right to choose and that being gay is an abomination in the eyes of God. But if you think that’s bad, it gets worse.
The terrorist atrocities which hit Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge were appalling but a walk in the park compared to what happened in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
Organisations like the IRA, Ulster Volunteer Force, INLA and Ulster Defence Association committed atrocities which don’t bear thinking of. If you think they’re a thing of the past, then think again.
Theresa May now wishes to do a deal with the DUP.
It has been widely reported that the DUP leader Arlene Foster met UDA chief Jackie McDonald within 48 hours of the loyalist feud murder in Bangor of Colin Horner in front of his three-year-old son.
We must ask ‘Is this a suitable partnership?’
Make no bones about it, the Good Friday Agreement has delivered 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland and the UK.
This could be blown apart for the sole purpose of maintaining a Conservative government in Westminster. This must be opposed.
We should all be worried about Theresa May doing a deal with the DUP, and be in no doubt it won’t just be Belfast that suffers the consequences on July 12.
George McManus, from Beverley, is the Yorkshire representative on Labour’s National Policy Forum.