5
Apr 05

Memories of 1997

Blog 71 comment • 238 views

I lived above the sandy chines of Bournemouth and election eve was sunny. John Major had visited the south coast about a week before. He stood on a soapbox that was no longer an endearing quirk and tried to speak. I couldn’t hear him, everyone was chanting “six more days, six more days” and he gave up. In the dying days of the Conservative administration, British politics was practically theatre.

All over the country the Tories were being upstaged by these Labour guys in suits and ties and modern rhetoric. The Labour stereotype was no more, despite the Daily Mail’s insistence that an iron curtain would fall across the Cotswolds. They looked like people you knew at work. What did they stand for? Can’t really remember. Tough on education and the causes of education? Something like that. The point is, they weren’t the Tories and that was enough in 1997.

The Government were a shambles, lurching from scandal to crisis. The Sun withdrew its traditional support, seeing more readership potential in their love children. And there were plenty of those. The old guard on the right hated Europe because (and I paraphrase, but only slightly), garlic-eating foreigners lived there. This wasn’t John Major’s idea of politics; no satisfying thud of leather on willow and the ripple of applause. The day after the election he was photographed at Lords, a place he had longed to be for some months.

I started the evening with a bottle of white wine and drank it from a pint glass (I wasn’t sure if I was new or old Labour). Exit polls put the result in the bag and the word landslide bounced around the TV studio. You could feel the fizz of excitement when the results began to trickle through. I remember my girlfriend coming home after a handful of seats had declared and it was something like 3-2 to the Tories. “Oh no” she said, but it was OK, these were the very safest Tory seats with names like ‘Upper-Tweed-on-the-Wold’ and even they were close.

After midnight, came a period of about forty minutes when the Conservatives didn’t win a single seat. Election analysts were whirling their arms around liked mashed-up nutters fronting an army of red stick figures. No MP’s in Wales & Scotland, half the cabinet wiped out, incredible swings in the safest of seats. I think Neil Hamilton was my favourite because he was such a cock. I must admit I find his wife a little attractive, but that’s my problem and I’ll deal with it. Portillo too, of course. I was jumping up and down at this point and drinking Archers straight from the bottle. He was the smarmiest, the oiliest, the embodiment of the Class of ’97 Tories and he was beaten by the meekest man. I felt like I was on the terraces. England 4 Holland 1 was only a year ago and the sensation was similar.

Bournemouth was no barometer of public opinion and re-elected a Conservative. Neat Archers gives you a spanking hangover.

Comments

  1. 1
    chee chee on 19 Oct 2006 #

    you are a fag

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