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Re: 1997 General Election - your memories

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Location: ...THEY'VE WON.
HIGNFY Election Special May 1997

They're taking the piss out of Tony Blair for, er, refusing to take part in a televised debate with John 'Shagger' Major.

Very much plus ca change...

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xs4i27 ... k-ross_fun

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:28 pm 
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Amazing how relevant that title sequence still is 20 years later for the most part

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 12:00 am 
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Twenty years ago today...

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 12:26 am 
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Our two constituencies have both named candidates; both ultra-Corbynite, one local (and one of the reasons I left) and the other parachuted in from Corbyn Central : UNISON activist, Haringey councillor. No links to the constituency, as far as I know she has never been here.
Two groupies. Fantastic.

It may help lose one seat for the Tories (return to Lib Dem) and keep Lib Dems in place in the other, as I suspect the Labour vote (which I had seen increase in 2015) will collapse. It had been mooted that falling UKIP support would help the Tories take Carshalton away from Tom Brake, but this positively helps him. The Tory is already on it...

I'm embarrassed.

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 10:23 am 
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1997 was my first election. I voted for Hilton Dawson, the Labour candidate for Lancaster. Did some work putting up posters and leafletting for him around campus, but to be honest it wasn't really necessary.

What sticks in my mind was how, since about 1994 or so, the Tories had been dead men walking. I was at sixth form when John Smith died, and remember how teachers stopped lessons when the news came through. This was a genuine shock - the man we all assumed was going to be the next PM was dead.

On the Tories soldiered, clinging on to their offices and chauffered cars with grim determination (see my comments on fixed term parliaments elsewhere - 5 full years was seen as a sign of desperation). Blair won the Labour leadership and built up a team that looked young, dynamic and fresh. They were on TV every night putting forward their vision for the country. They had ideas. They said that the British people deserved better, while all the Tories could respond with was muttered sneers about tax rises and "who'll pay for it all?". That's when they weren't getting caught in sex scandals. Oddly though, the Tories all looked like mutants. Mutants or provincial estate agents. Apart from Portillo, but he had the look of a public schoolboy who had some interesting ideas about corporal punishment. I remember him on the news at some Tory party conference bragging about the SAS and thinking kill me now. Labour though? They had glamour. They had style. A few were actually quite fit. They were doing politics in a new way, making it showbizzy, making it relevant. They got that the world was going through the digital revolution, and that people were riding a wave of optimism and opportunity. Anything was possible, and we no longer needed a bunch of discredited, smug mediocrities telling us to shut up and eat shit.

The campaign was a breeze. Lancaster was going to flip (it did), but the 2nd of May was a great day. I'd left Lancaster early in the morning to go to Leeds, and as the train winded its way across the Pennines the weather was glorious and the mood upbeat. I got into Leeds station and a random stranger just came up to me out of nowhere and gave an update on the outcome. I'd already been up till about 2.00 watching the election night armistice and the early results, and had an inkling it was pretty apocalyptic, but the final results were amazing. I remember Bernard Ingham being interviewed and his responses were basically "Oh well, it's been a laugh, all good things come to an end, I'm personally comfortable, fuck you all". That to me summed up the Tories as a whole from about 1994-5 onward.

But yeah, great in that dawn was it to be alive and so on.

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 12:03 pm 
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Thanks for that, Andy. Beautifully described. May I quote some of what you wrote (anomymously) elsewhere on the information super-highway (as nobody calls it any more)?

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 12:23 pm 
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A superb contribution, Andy. Thank you for sharing that with us.


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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 2:22 pm 
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Fill your boots Abers.

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 2:38 pm 
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The other thing I can remember, although this must be my old mind playing tricks, is that dawn was breaking as I walked home. Given that it was no later than about three am and early May it would have been impossible, unless Alistair Campbell was THAT ingenious.

EDIT: I've just checked and the Enfield count was at 3.10am so it would have been closer to four, which is possible, That morning, anything was possible.

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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 4:46 pm 
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Great stuff Andy, I think we should all distil, bottle and caption the bot about the dead Tories "soldiering" (clinging) on.

If we could conjure that into the public conciousness as well as our enemies have conjured "the winter of miscontent" we might be onto something.
The Tories recognisably toxic back then, and that plenty of their current front-runners were involved then as SPADs and junior wotsits.


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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 9:38 am 
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The gfuy that sums up to me those last few years of Major's reign was Ian Lang. Remember him? Of course not. If he was an answer on Pointless, you'd have the trophy and jackpot in your hands.

Lang was, I think, originally Scottish secretary on account of him knowing where Scotland was. He was a bland, grinning chump, much in the Edward VIII/Prince Edward mould of vague posho with not much going on upstairs. Smile, nod, go "Nyeeeurgh", repeat. Lang worked his way through a few ministerial posts, generally as the previous holder was moved on or sacked. He was harmless enough, but summed up the entitlement and lack of ambition or vision of that discredited, useless regime.

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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 9:50 am 
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I would like to echo the appreciation of the excellent summary by A McD.

There was a huge sense of relief over the whole country really, the early 90s were an awful, depressing black hole, the unpleasant hangover from the 80s, and when Major's government scraped in again in 1992 it just added to the malaise.

The incompetence and sleaze that pathetic government became embroiled in seemed to get worse and worse, and it was obviously a ticking time bomb, the longer they clung on, the bigger the scale of the defeat was going to be, there were sex scandals, which Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells didn't like, and New Labour were picking up support across the board.

The second half of the 90s were the biggest imaginable contrast with the depressing first half, it seemed that the long years of Tory awfulness were going to be reversed at last.

We even won the Eurovision Song Contest too!

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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 10:01 am 
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I was just a kid in the 1980s, and aside from the endless coverage of strikes and riots on the news, the impression I had was one of a country that was a good place to live in spite of the government. It was the age of conspicuous charity, of Live Aid and Comic Relief and Free Nelson Mandela. It was a time of modernisation and shiny, but we laughed at the yuppies and those who thanked Thatcher for making it so. Every night on TV the funny and edgy comedians railed against Thatcher. Nobody* argued that her domestic opponents were wrong, morally or otherwise. She seemed in power despite what people thought of her, not because.

The 1990s were different though. There was the recession, and the Majors of the world seemed to revel in pulling up the drawbridge behind them. Major himself talked of the rising number of homeless people as a disgrace - not because they were homeless, but because they made the streets look ugly. Whatever genuine talent in the government seemed to be replaced by a raft of time-servers who thought that it would suffice to talk like Michael Heseltine, style themselves like Cecil Parkinson, and act like Alan Clarke. That's when I was politically 'turned on', and boy has it stuck with me.

*Nobody cool, anyway.

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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 10:21 am 
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I got turned on to politics only really because of the miners strike and the destruction of industry. In the insurance office I worked at in my first job (1978-84) a lot of the clients we dealt with were manufacturing, mostly engineering or textiles, and, one by one, they went bust. Followed by nightly coverage on the news of the police beating up pickets and I thought "this woman running the country is a cunt"

As a kid in the 60s and a teenager in the 70s, I thought the country seemed an OK place to live and grow up, so I didn't have any strong views then.

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