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Politics and philosophy of life

Arthur Harding and his dog

One of Arthur’s unpublished autobiographies was called the ‘underprivileged’ because he believed his upbringing was horribly unfair and the conditions in which he lived “doomed thousands of children to a prison life or an early grave”. Arthur had been given little compensation and no alternative home after eviction from The Nichol, and effectively left to die.

Arthur as an old man (left)




Arthur believed he was brainwashed into patriotism at an early age, but later realised the extreme inequality of the class structure. This stopped him ever voting for the Conservative Party despite the fact that he was a Conservative at heart. He only voted Labour once and “never heard the end of it” from his family.

Community was important to Arthur and he had fond memories of the community feel in The Nichol and other areas he lived in. Despite the poverty, everyone knew each other, and the sick may well have found themselves swamped in well wishers coming to their house and surrounding their sickbed. In Gibraltar Gardens, Arthur knew every single tenant. 

Protection of his friends and family was so important to Arthur that it constantly got him into trouble, even to the point of the 'Bluecoat Boy' affair. His refusal not to grant favours earned him a strong, reliable and widespread reputation. This way of living came from the premise that if you chose to live a life of crime, you had to expect to go to prison. Arthur always believed this, and knew that it would happen.

The thirst for excitement for Arthur was far more important than money or politics, as was shown when he became leader of the strike-breakers and a subsequent associate of the leader of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosley. The thrills and danger of gangland life, trying to avoid police capture, flexing muscles over any rivals and trying to be the hardest and most successful man around, were valued aspects of Arthur's life.

After reading Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in Wormwood Scrubs, Arthur turned away from religion for good. Neither did he believe in evolution, instead believing that no one had the answers yet. Fundamentally, he believed in a world without war, where his family could live a stable peaceful life just so long as life held enough excitement to keep it from getting too dull.

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