European Archive of Voices

Translation – Baroness Mary Goudie

Interview by Alice Boyd

United Kingdom, Mai 2020


Boyd: My name is Alice Boyd, I am an early career theatre maker and sound designer based in London in the UK. I am also founder of Staging Change, a network of theatre makers, venues and organisations who are working together to improve the environmental sustainability of the theatre industry.

And I’m really excited to be joined today via video call by Baroness Mary Goudie. Baroness Goudie is a Labour member of the British House of Lords and a global advocate for the rights of women and children. She works globally to promote gender equality, women’s rights and peace-building. 

And here are just some of the amazing things Baroness Goudie is doing. She is an advisor to the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, which examines the roles of women in peace and security worldwide. She is on the advisory board for the London School of Economics’ Centre for Women, Peace and Security. A member of the advisory board of Women’s Forum, a leading platform dedicated to highlighting women’s voice and perspectives on global issues. Baroness Goudie is also a member of the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) management board of advisors, and a trustee of the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation, which foster interfaith dialogue and establish common ground and solutions to global challenges affecting mankind.  

Thank you so much for joining me. Today is the 26th May 2020, the 9th week of lockdown in the UK as a result of coronavirus. So I thought I’d start off with the question that is probably going to be the most asked question of 2020, which is: how have you been finding the lockdown?

Goudie: I’ve been in lockdown for 10 weeks. I went the week before lockdown because one of my great colleagues in the House of Lords, Lord Narendra Patel, who’d worked on SARS and works on all of these great issues, who’s a world leader on women’s medicine and so on. Naren came up to me and a couple of colleagues and said, “it’s time to go”. When Naren told me this, he never messes. And my daughter in law, who’s a medical consultant at St. George’s Hospital here in London, she told me the Sunday before that, “you’ve got to start locking down early”. Both of them and another friend of mine who worked in a law firm – I phoned him that Friday before we went into lockdown, [and] he said, “Mary I’m in a supermarket, my law firm is going to lockdown”. And I spoke to another friend; her law firm’s going to lockdown. I thought, “okay, we’re in lockdown now”. We locked down that Sunday, and I’m sure those who made those decisions saved a number of people’s lives.

None of us were to know, you just took the instinct of your friends. So we’ve been into lockdown for ten weeks working very happily from home. We’ve managed to organise support in terms of deliveries for food and other methods, my local pharmacy is around the corner for anything, and my doctor was in touch for a few prescriptions. So we are working early in the day, get up at 6am to do the jobs, and then work from 9am, then have lunch, work until about 5pm or 6pm, and then do other things in the evening. But it’s a working day. At weekends you catch up a bit, but I try quite hard to take it easy. We have a little garden as part of the block that we live in. After you, I have another call, and I hope the wifi will be good enough to do it in the garden. 

Boyd: That’d be lovely! So going back, what was your childhood like?

Goudie: My childhood was very comfortable. My parents were Irish, they came to London. My father came in 1939, my mother came in 1942, they got married after the war in 1945 and I was born in 1946. They lived in Cricklewood in Kilburn where most Irish people came to. My father worked in the building trade because that’s where they really needed people, and my mother worked for the Canadian Government where again they needed people like my mother. There were jobs, they didn’t come on spec, they came with jobs to go to. And then of course my brother, sister and I were educated in the Catholic school and we lived in an Irish community. At the same time, we were brought up to recognise all the things going on in the world and outside of Ireland and went on every other school holiday to Ireland. 

Boyd: Did you ever talk to your parents about the war? About World War II in particular?

Goudie: Not particularly. We dealt with the issue of the family who came while I was at school in my 5th form and 6th form, of the refugees from Hungary and Poland, because at that time that was happening.

We also had friends who had walked and had got to Britain as Jewish refugees, so around us in the area we lived in, and their friends who were refugees who’d walked and helped others to escape. So, in terms of [talking about] the war, it was about those who got to Britain, and of course had the discrimination of the war and what was caused by Hitler. Of course we talked about [that], but it was about how you protected the people who came. People were refugees to the UK and they were making a new life.

Boyd: Were you ever witness to discrimination against those people?

Goudie: Oh yes. There was discrimination against them and there was discrimination certainly in the late 50s and early 60s about, ‘No Blacks, No Irish need apply’. You saw these notices in shop windows about people shouldn’t apply. In those days, people let rooms or let parts of their house and it was ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Children, No Animals’. You were all lumped together, and that’s where you saw that form of discrimination.

Discrimination against Jews was jealousy, but not as open at that time as we’ve seen it in other situations now. But they were welcomed. And in the area we lived in, and the area when I got married we lived in, when I was on the local authority [council board], everybody was welcome, you know? It was comfortable… everybody lived together.

Boyd: Did you ever feel discriminated against as a person who had Irish parents?

Goudie: No, because my parents had explained to us the situation and we went to elocution lessons to be able to speak well, and on the same hand we had Irish dancing lessons.

Boyd: And what was one of the most important things you learnt at school?

Goudie: We learnt civics in different ways. In school, we learnt about how Parliament works, how government works, we learnt about history, we learnt about people. And my school is not what you’d call… today it would probably be called progressive, but I didn’t think it was. But I learnt a lot about civics, which is not taught in a lot of countries. So, you were taught what an MP was, what a council was, you know? Those things were taught to us as part of history and as part of general issues. 

And then, not as often as schools have now, but we did have key speakers come. End of term or something. Where now, it’s every week or every couple of weeks.

Boyd: Were there any particular teachers that played a role in your life?

Goudie: I think the music teacher was very good and the history teacher was very good. Also, all of my form teachers [a teacher who has responsibility for a particular class in a school] were good, because they wanted you to do well. However, wherever you were on the levels, they wanted the best for you at that level. It was a different time. How can I explain? Teachers didn’t have more time, but things were calmer for teachers to be helpful within the school. 

Boyd: How did you find that manifest?

Goudie: It manifested when you weren’t doing well in a subject, they talked to your parents about it so you could get a bit of extra time to make that better.

Boyd: And how did you first come into contact with politics?

Goudie: Partly at school because, if you remember, the Government asked people to come [to the UK], as we now know as the Windrush situation, never did we know [what was going to happen more than 50 years later, referring to the Government Windrush scandal]. Some of those families then came to Southall, which was near my school, and to Hayes, their children came to our school1. So, you saw some discrimination then and I learnt about how bad this was from my parents and their friends, and that [this] was not acceptable. We never accepted that. But you did have some discrimination in school.

Boyd: Can you explain to anyone who might be an international listener who the Windrush Generation was?

Goudie: Yes, [the background to] the Windrush Generation2 as they’re now known, was that Britain asked [people from] Commonwealth countries, like Jamaica and other countries, to come to work to be nurses, to help to build buses, to work in the factories, because we had a huge void of people to do these jobs, and others didn’t want to do it. The Irish population was building roads, building houses – all of the construction industry at that time was mainly people from Ireland.

But then we had this void and also many doctors, people had noticed at that time had come from, India. And the first Indian doctors came to Scotland towards the end of the the early 1900s. But we didn’t know about that, we learnt about that at a later stage. Some of the gynaecological doctors who came to Scotland and who trained were from India.3 That was an era where people were coming and they were welcomed. We didn’t think about it. It was those people that this did those jobs, with Irish nurses and West Indian nurses working together in hospitals. Now, it’s Filipinos and others4.

People were welcomed by local authorities and by the Government in the 1970s. And again those refugees worked hard in schools, their children went to sink schools [a sink school is a school noted for its underachievement]. And we’ve seen today that that generation has become doctors and other entrepreneurs in this country. 

And of course then we have the whole question of Enoch Powell and those speeches he made in the mid-1970s5, which were just appalling because the people who came to our country, they never took, they just worked and continue to work. And as we see today, the nurses, doctors, ambulances and first responders [in the covid-19 pandemic] are all from those generations. 

Boyd: Is there a particular person who shaped your political viewpoints, or any particular events like the ones you are just talking about?

Goudie: I don’t think so. I think my upbringing shaped it, my parents’ friends who later became my friends. You couldn’t pick out one person, we were all [in it] together. Maybe I could mention that [at] the Post Office union, the local Willesden Post Office Union when I got [elected into] the council, there were two people, Johnny Hutton and another person called Frank Brooker. [Together], they decided that I would be the candidate because they wanted somebody new who understood the issues. They were much older than me, but that’s where they saw the future was. So they [supported my campaign as] Labour candidate of the [union] branch that they represented, [at the time Wembley and Willesden, which would soon join to form the London Borough of Brent].  [As a candidate for councillor] you had sponsors and supporters who you didn’t even necessarily know were your friends. So we worked together for 10 years or more, and they had many strikes and so on. That was their life in Willesden. They supported me on the council. 

Boyd: Did you go to university and, if so, what did you study?

Goudie: I went to local college because at that time you either went to university or to technical college. I went onto college because that worked well for me locally.

Boyd: What did you study there?

Goudie: I did admin, typing, secretarial work and all sorts of issues around those things. Plus languages.

Boyd: What was your first job after that or before?

Goudie: First of all, in those days you had Saturday jobs. I’m sure your mother or your aunty [will know]. So I worked in Woolworths on Saturdays in between exams and so on and then during school holidays. I went to work so I could [pay for my education]. So I worked four days a week in a dental surgery for a couple of years. And that gave me time to do extra studies. At that time people did that. You worked and you did college [at the same time]. It’s a bit different to today. 

Boyd: How did you then get into politics?

Goudie: I joined the Young Socialists [youth section of the Labour Party]6 while I was at college. I joined it very early on [because of the] discrimination and the politics that one was seeing, as I told you, at school and afterwards. So then I joined the Young Socialists and I fought a seat under the gentleman I told you about earlier. I was the youngest councillor [a member of a local government council in the UK] in Brent, when I was selected. So it goes on through school, through everything. 

Boyd: What were the biggest values you had going into politics?

Goudie: Well it was a big learning curve. No university degree could’ve given me what I learnt when I was in Brent. I represented an area, which I still know well, where we had the largest amount of cot deaths, which was quite difficult to understand; the largest amount of unemployment, which ran through families; really bad sink schools, which we were able to change; terrible housing where children had asthma through rats and damp; everybody tried to live in one or two rooms so there was no real space for children to do education and learn anything; no space, no real play areas; it was just off the Harrow road. It was really narrow cramped spaces. 

Those areas have changed now, they have refurbished the buildings to an extent, but it’s still not easy. A number of families were able to be transferred to Wembley and Kent, but it was still difficult. 

Boyd: How did you bring what you learnt into politics?

Goudie: Well, I was on a council. I became chairman of development, so you understood about moving people around. You also learnt that you couldn’t make change without improving the economy. If you didn’t have industry in an area, you couldn’t get better [business] rates because the community couldn’t pay for everything [note: business rates are an important revenue for local government in the UK]. You needed industry for both the community to work and also for there to be jobs to go to, further rates to pay. So it was very important in all development that you brought [this in], as well as the housing in the area.

Also, Brent was two completely different areas married. It was like a bad marriage: a very working class area, and a very sub-urban area. [There were some benefits to this], but it was a shot gun marriage, shall I say. And it worked out in the end, and it has continued to work. But in those days it was difficult. It was the local government reorganisation [of 1974]7, and there have been many local government reorganisations [since]. I learnt about allotments, I learnt about planning, terrible housing. 

I learnt about, as I say, bringing in factories and other industries [into the borough], and when factories were no longer the answer, you had to have different types of industry. Today, my colleagues are learning about having IT, and so if you didn’t want people to smoke anymore, you’d shut down the factory for making the papers for cigarettes, but you’d need to bring something else in its replacement. So, you have all of these issues to deal with. So, it’s a learning curve. People not necessarily had all of that imagination. You had to learn how to be imaginative to make change.

Boyd: And how did that develop into working in women’s rights and peace and security?

Goudie: Then, I was on the Brent council for two terms and then we moved to Camden (a London borough), mainly for transport reasons – it was easier for us to get into town. My husband was working, for us as a family it was easier. And then I worked in the NGO movement and in the housing movement and then I was very involved in the set up of an organisation called the Industry Forum, which was to bring Industry to understand Labour policies. I also learnt a lot from them, as much as they learnt from me about how we needed to make that work.

So, again I did that and I learnt that. I was also working on policies to change the Labour party at the same time as doing a day job working in an NGO. I worked for an environmental agency, which was great, WWF [World Wildlife Fund]. But I had a role in global [affairs], so I was in Brussels at that time, so I learnt about the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and all the organisations that are there. And I have to tell you, I am so pro-Europe, I find it terrible that Britain has left. But I have to do my best to work within this so we can get the best out of whatever deal we get, and to continue working on the deal to make it better.

Boyd: What was it like working on a more international stage?

Goudie: It was wonderful. You learnt all the time because people had more ideas. Some people didn’t have much patience with Britain, even in those days. But it was really important because you learnt so much. Also, in some issues around human rights, not always on the gender rights, you were talking to people who were very enlightened. 

Boyd: What was the dynamic between the UK and European Union at that time?

Goudie: It was okay, because people were accepted… so it’d be like you and me going to a meeting so it worked. They may not like x, but it was all okay because everyone was inclusive.

Boyd: What has it been like as a woman in the workplace and in politics?

Goudie: I have to say, personally I have not really been discriminated against. You have the discrimination from people who don’t like you, which is a different issue, or they feel you’re pushing issues where they say, “oh! Not now”, those sort of people, who haven’t thought of your ideas, can’t cope with those ideas, think it’s taking it too far. But I haven’t personally experienced discrimination from men. You have the odd aside, but you ignore that, and you can keep moving along. 

Also, if you’re deciding to have more women in certain positions as we have, or in the House of Lords we’re going to make sure that women are not only on committees as they are, but are also chairing committees. It’s about taking men with you, taking people with you. So you go and talk to people across the divide. You say, “look, we’re going to make this change, how do you feel about it?” So you’ve got a committee, you’ve got to make people change. 

In the sense of discrimination now, it’s not as bad as it could be. There are people out there who still believe a women’s place is sitting at home. We have to protect the jobs and how far women have come as we come out of this challenging time. I didn’t see it, but I know there was an article in the Times today, and there have been articles in other places, which ask where women will be when we come out of this. Well, women should be where we are now, because we are at the frontline in every job. In the same way as we’re chairing things, in being on boards, and we should not give up on those positions.  

Boyd: What do you feel like we should do coming out of lockdown to ensure we remain championing diversity?

Goudie: The Government has led this, despite all the ups and downs from the Blair-Brown government, from David Cameron, from Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Johnson. They panicked and they stopped the gender pay gap figures being announced, and the women on boards figures, which was the bad thing because they blamed the pandemic before. So Britain led on this, so you say, “you were leading on this, you’ve got to continue to lead on this.” And we’ve already started to put pressure on them.

In the same way, there have been other reports that they’ve not taken forward, so we don’t go back, we say, “what are you doing about the Parker report? How are you working this with the diversity project?”. So we’re not to look back, but to take on the issue and look forward. And on diversity, it’s really key that it’s about working to be inclusive of everyone. We’ve got to be inclusive of everybody.

Boyd: And deal with the complexities of… we have these umbrella terms that aren’t actually particularly complex.

Goudie: They’re not right. If you look at doctors, 50% of doctors come from Asian backgrounds, and they’re sometime second or third generation, or they’re coming here because we need them and their families have been back and forth to the UK. If you look at nurses, it’s now Filipinos and sometimes nurses from Europe. And for ministers to say, “oh we’ll train British people”, well it takes a long time for people to train to be a nurse or a doctor. But also, fruit picking – [British people] don’t want to do those jobs. There has to be freedom of movement, otherwise we won’t have anyone to do these jobs.

Boyd: I feel like coronavirus, the pandemic is really exploding that, because all of a sudden the people we really need are the same people only a few months ago we [the UK] shut the door on.

Goudie: Absolutely! And now we’ve had to crawl back on that. Some of the people who were here, who hadn’t quite got their EU status, or status that they needed to have, we started to charge them money to use the health service! And again, they [the Government], had to go back on that. But if people hadn’t raised it, they would be paying x thousand pounds to use the health service with their families. These are the same people who are working in the health service. So, coming out of this, we have to come out as a much fairer society.

Boyd: Do you feel optimistic that we will?

Goudie: I am optimistic and I want it to happen. We have to get people to understand that this has to happen. We are very lucky, and there happen to be two women in key positions, Frances O’Grady, who is running the TUC, and the General Secretary of the CBI, [Dame Carolyn Fairbairn]. These are two great women leaders.

And in the same way as we see globally, in New Zealand, in Germany and in Brussels, and in Scandinavian countries, we have really key women [in power] who are not only speaking to their community every other day, they’re also speaking to children, making special broadcasts to children, special broadcasts to students. And that’s really important because that’s brings people with you. So we have to hope as we come out of this that there’s much more people working together.

Boyd: Definitely. Could you just quickly explain for anyone who doesn’t know what the TUC and the CBI is?

Goudie: The Trades Union Council and the Confederation of British Industry. 

Boyd: Were you optimistic or pessimistic about your future in your twenties and at the start of your career?

Goudie: I was optimistic because I was taught, not in a cocky way, but my parents brought me up to believe that every door was open. Not necessarily to be the prime minister or to be the best teacher or to be the best nurse. But you were taught that every door was open and that if you were going somewhere, you’d be welcome. So you’d just go in and say, “hello, I’m x”. I was never brought up to say, “oh you can’t go there”. You were brought up so that everything was open to you.

Boyd: That’s fantastic. Do you believe your perspectives or expectations changed across the decades, especially with the growth in wealth after World War II. 

Goudie: No, I felt very optimistic. I felt optimistic for my children, I feel very optimistic for my grandchildren as well. We just have to look to the future. Coming out of this or coming out of any challenging time, we have to look forward. We’re not going to go back. We’re not going back to the way we were before. In the most obvious sense, the convening of people is not going to be like how it was [before the COVID-19 pandemic]. It will be a long time before people will be able to go to restaurants in the way we were able to. Some of these things will go, not restaurants, but maybe dinners and lectures. They will go away. It will be a whole new way of connecting to people.

The other day, I went to something with 1700 people on it. 1700 people from 96 countries.

Boyd: On a Zoom call?

Goudie: Yes. 

Boyd: Wow. 

Goudie: And there’s one I organised the other day that had just over 100. And then you know the events people that do invitations for weddings, they organise these huge Zoom calls for these institutions, and they work. They’ve got a good techy person working with them, but that works. So it’s important that we look to the future.

It’s like people saying, “oh well, I don’t have a computer”. Computers are very cheap these days. This is the future and if you’re not going to embrace the future, you’re not going anywhere. I know people of 91 and 92, who are [down] with it all, and others who are 50 and don’t want to know… it’s all in the mind.

Boyd: How did technology change your life and your work as well?

Goudie: Well, I’ve always been into tech. When my children were little, we had the first SOBOL8 computer, so we taught each other how to use that. Every job I’ve had, you’ve had to have computer schools, and you’ve learnt and gone on these desperate courses, you never understood, but you got enough out of it.

I like Apple, so I’ve got a good Apple computer, I keep it well done. I’ve got Apple iPad, Apple phone. So, if you’re going to have equipment, you don’t have to go awol [crazy], but you have to have good equipment and updated from within itself. If you’re really serious, you have to do emails whatever happens. To apply for a driving licence, to apply for any government form, you’ve got to go on email. You’re taught at school, and people who are the same age group as me, to say, “I don’t want to do this” is ridiculous.

Boyd: How do you feel it’s changed the way you socially interact with people?

Goudie: I want to speak to my friends, I want to see my friends. A friend and I are writing an article together for one of the Catholic newspapers, and I’m going to speak to her, we’ve already been back and forth on email, but I’m going to talk to her this afternoon on the phone. Some friends, like you, I’m talking to on FaceTime. Other friends I do Zoom calls with. Whatever it is, you just go with it. Whatever they want to do. And it works. 

Also, you’ve just got to get into the passwords. They’re boring and sometimes it won’t go right, and you just go around in circles and if you’ve got to get a new one, and if that doesn’t work, you’ve got to do whatever it is. 

Boyd: I think definitely during this time technology is helping so much.

Goudie: Oh yes, if people can watch Netflix and they can watch BBC catch up, they can clearly do all the stuff we’re doing. 

Boyd: So, when did you leave the UK for the first time?

Goudie: When I was little. We used to go to Ireland every other school holiday because my grandparents were there and my parent’s relatives, and they used to come here. And of course, my father’s sisters and my mother’s uncles were in America, because it was traditional at that time that some Irish people went to America, and some came here. 

When I was taken to Cobh in Cork (Ireland), I also saw where people from Ireland went to. There’s a big visitor’s centre there, and some people went to Argentina, so you know. We went to Ireland – from the time I was three, there are pictures of me in my grandmother’s house in Strand, in my pram. Not quite a pram, sitting up. My parents would go back all the time because their parents were there. And in those days, they never came to us. So we went  every summer in the school holidays. And then I went to America with my parents. We were very lucky because the Catholic church did these charter planes and we had somewhere to stay with relatives.

Travel was part [of my life], because my parents wanted to stay in touch with their relatives and other relatives wanted to [keep in touch]. Before [we had] phones, we used to go down to the station to phone at the time for a phone call. It was fixed calls. My aunties who came to Ireland, also came to London. So it was all coming and going.

Boyd: Did you ever go away just for travels, rather than visiting relatives?

Goudie: No, we always went to Ireland or my parents would sometimes take a place in Whitstable (coast of south-east England), which is now quite posh, but in those days wasn’t. They would take a house down there when we were older. But basically, we loved going to Ireland.

I was sent to my aunt, who was a nun in Florence, when I was fourteen. I was sent to her to a convent in Florence. So, that was the first time I went to Italy. I loved it. I had planned to go this year, but obviously can’t go. I was last there in December, but Florence is one of my favourite places in the world. 

So, you know, we went on the school trips, but my parents’ trips for them was Ireland. And they retired back to Ireland. They were back and forth here all the time, so they never left us.

Boyd: What were your experiences of borders and how has that changed over time? The borders of countries.

Goudie: So, when in Ireland, I worked a lot on the Northern Ireland issues, working with the women and trying to get peace there. So the border was the border. The great joy was when you could take the train. I remember when Mary McAleese (former President of Ireland) announced that she was going to run for President of Ireland. And the second time round, I went by train with friends from Belfast down to Newry, and that was amazing to take the train, like taking the Eurostar, not as grand. But taking a train which you’ve never dreamt of, never had you dreamt of that. When my parents, and when my aunts went to the north, my father would never come to the north, but always wanted to know about it. So the borders opening, and this is why I am very worried about the Northern Ireland protocol because the border is meant to be open. People go back and forth for holidays from one side of Ireland to the other, because they’ve both got beautiful places. So there’s a real worry around this.

Boyd: Have you ever have any experience with borders on the European continent, especially with the east side of Europe?

Goudie: I went very early on to eastern Europe to Germany. Not too much trouble crossing the borders, you just kept yourself with your passports at shook [i.e. at hand]. So I went through both sides of Berlin, went to Czechoslovakia at a very tricky time, went to Bratislava, we went on the train. Have done a trip through Vienna, Bratislava, Hungary and Prague. But you just do it all on the trains, as long as you’ve got your passport and keep smiling. Don’t question, just keep being calm. I’ve been to Russia twice, to Moscow. I’ve been to Georgia, it was very tricky when I was in Georgia. 

So I’ve been to some of these places. Wouldn’t necessarily want to rush back because it’s not easy unless you’re going for a [formal] meeting. I was privileged to go to St. Petersburg to see the Matisses, by choice because I was on a delegation and asked if I could pay to stay on. But I’m not sure if I would want to rush back to that kind of situation.

I’ve been to India, to Deli, which is something else. And I’ve been to South Africa, which is again something else. I’ve been to Ukraine. You take each country as [they come], but they’re not easy. So borders are borders, but I’ve never had any problems between Britain and France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland. I’ve driven them, gone through the trains, everything.

Boyd: Have you found the places where it was harder to travel through, have you found that change recently? Are you talking about these experiences being a few decades ago? Or is this more recently?

Goudie: Well, some are more recent than others. Ukraine was a couple of years ago. I think some of these countries are still difficult. It’s not the people themselves. It’s that they’ve always been told what to do. The culture is slowly changing. But it goes into decades, as we know in the UK, to change culture. So if somebody’s always being told from the top to tell the fourth person down, so they don’t make the decision. Or it’s like being in an airport and there’s nobody to tell you why it’s not running and when it will run. That’s the bit about the borders as well. So it’s the cultural situation.

I think in some places it’s still difficult because of the culture. They don’t think it’s difficult, but it is difficult. 

Boyd: How did you see the European Union develop over the course of your life and your career?

Goudie: I loved it. I loved the Cohesion Fund9, which was helping Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece, and it’s also helped the new members of the European Union. I thought the Cohesion Fund was really key [in how they improved] roads and other infrastructure, such as sewerage, so people could have inside toilets. And how it also helped to bring jobs to these countries, and training. And how the freedom of movement of people was really important. We saw people from Poland, German, Lithuania moving to do jobs that people didn’t want to do in other countries, or vice versa.

Well, we know that the greatest engineers for the railways come from Germany and Austria. The greatest plumbers come from Lithuania. The greatest bricklayers now come from Germany, no longer from Ireland. So, it’s a whole change of culture. And that’s what freedom of movement brings. I think at the end of the day this government will have to go back to freedom of movement, because some of those jobs nobody else is going to be doing. We’re not going to have a training programme for them, so they’re kidding themselves. They closed down the last bricklaying college a couple of years ago. I can’t say for sure it’s the last one, but there was this great bricklaying college in Scotland, which taught people to brick lay, but that’s not there anymore.

Boyd: Those skills are disappearing.

Goudie: The skills are disappearing and we’re not teaching the skills either.

Boyd: When were you proud of Europe? And has there been a time when you’ve felt ashamed for Europe?

Goudie: I’ve never felt ashamed of Europe. The only time where I’ve felt down and ashamed was when we lost the referendum, because I feel like we don’t want to be an Isle of Wight [i.e. island as a metaphor for isolation]. That’s what we could become if we’re not careful. Have these people thought about where they’re going to get their fancy Italian food and all the rest of it. Or more importantly, engineers, plumbers, people who build  our infrastructure. At the moment, we have trouble about [people] picking fruit. 

Boyd: Has there been a particular moment where you’ve felt very proud to be European?

Goudie: I’ve always felt proud to be European. Always. From the time when we joined Europe.

Boyd: And what do you think has inspired that feeling?

Goudie: Because I like people to be together. I don’t want to be an island. I like people. Globally. I suppose it’s [about] being cosmopolitan if you use the old fashioned word. I think it’s about being part of NATO, being part of Europe, being part of the G7, the G20, the World Bank, all of these global things, where Britain was a leader, and should continue, goodness knows how, to be a leader. 

Boyd: What are your hopes and expectations for Europe’s future?

Goudie: I hope that it continues in the strengths that it has. I hope that one day Britain becomes part of the European Union [again]. That’s going to be a long time. But also that in part of the agreement with Europe, that we can still have access to the Erasmus programme, the space programme and freedom of movement.

Boyd: What impacts does your generation have on future generations?

Goudie: I think our generation had a big impact. But I think now, the generations of those between 40 and 50 are having a bigger impact because they’re better educated… I don’t think better, but more globally oriented, worldly of what’s going on, better travelled, certainly all IT savvy. They see a job as not one for life, but you move around in jobs. Jobs are not for life anymore either, but they have a bigger influence. More of that generation and the generation to come are not necessarily members of political parties, but are very involved in NGOs and so on, and they think about what they are doing and are more outspoken. Also, more caring in diversity terms about who looks after children, how they share childcare, how they share everything. Much different.

Boyd: My final question is do you have any advice for me and my generation?

Goudie: I think coming out of this challenging time, you continue with what your ambitions were [before], you work out how those ambitions and goals can be reached by looking forward and not looking back. So, say something’s been cancelled, well look to the site, what’s going to be there instead of that, there will be something. What’s going to be there in six months. Whatever the goals are, those goals are there. You have to look at the goals and don’t take no for an answer. The arts have just had a new DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) commission to have a look at the arts, well the arts may face difficulty unfortunately coming out of this. But there will be other things around the arts. 

We have seen, for example, not your form of arts, but we have seen how the art market has pulled itself up to doing things that they would never have dreamt of. It’s all online and working well. More artistic work is on Instagram, whatever is going to come after Instagram. [Even] people who are very fuddy-duddy [i.e. old fashioned and less tech savvy], are out they out there putting pieces of art on [Instagram]. So if people like that can do it, then other people around plays, films [can do the same]. So we have to look to the future, and talk to other people and share ideas.

Boyd: Amazing. Thank you so much. 


1 Southall is a district in west London, and part of the borough of Ealing. Hayes is a town just outside London. 

2 Between 1948 and 1970, nearly half a million people moved from the Caribbean to Britain, which in 1948 faced severe labour shortages in the wake of the Second World War. The immigrants were later referred to as „the Windrush generation” (named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948)

3 During the 19th century, the East India Company brought thousands of Indian scholars, workers and lascars to work on ships and in ports. By mid-19th century, there were over 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students in Britain, the majority of them being seamen working on ships.

4 Between March 2016 and March 2019, 4,000 Filipinos came to work in the NHS, where they comprise the second largest migrant contingent after Indians.

5 Enoch Powell was a leading member of the Conservative Party in the British parliament. On April 20, 1968, he delivered a speech now remembered as the “Rivers of Blood” speech, in which he claimed that if immigration to Britain from the country’s former colonies continued, a violent clash between white and black communities was inevitable.

6 The Labour Party Young Socialists was the youth section of the Labour Party in Britain from 1965 until 1993.

7  The Local Government Act of 1972 reorganized the system of administrative counties in England and Wales; 47 new administrative counties contained all urban as well as rural areas within their boundaries, and each administrative county was subdivided into several districts, which numbered almost 300 in all. These changes took effect in 1974.

8 SOBOL, a C++ code which computes elements of the Sobol quasirandom sequence, by Bennett Fox.

9 The Cohesion Fund, set up in 1994, provides funding for environmental and trans-European network projects in the Member States whose gross national income per capita is less than 90% of the EU average.