Monday, June 11, 2007

Sgt. Pepper day: it was 20 years ago today.....

20 years ago today Mrs Thatcher cruised to her third election victory (see BBC). It was an election very similar to 2001: an almost certain outcome with the main opposition party trying to recover from a thrashing the previous time and largely failing. But the turnout was rather higher!

It was the first General Election in which I campaigned (1983 having drawn me into politics as a mock-election candidate in the Sixth Form and then I helped in local elections). I spent the early part of the campaign delivering leaflets in between my exams, for the Liberal Alliance candidate who was up against Labour in Preston. [I remember some pretty ghastly slogans from the candidates - "Vote Wisely" - Audrey Wise; "Best 'Un for Preston" - Raj Chandran. I don't recall whether we went with "Looking for for Mr Wright?" - John Wright.]

Then, in contrast, I spent the final week helping the SDP Alliance candidate trying to defeat a Tory in Stevenage. (The candidate was one Ben Stoneham who now finds himself at Cowley Street.) I remember radical innovations (!) such as delivering different types of leaflets to different houses. But, that apart, it was fought in a very similar way no doubt to elections over the previous 100 years. No email, websites, blogs, podcasts or rolling news. There had only been a fourth TV channel for 2 and a half years!

I also remember how difficult it was to find your way around the houses in Stevenage, with houses opposite each other being in different roads. Today it is difficult to believe how well we used to do there.

The day itself was rather similar to today, weatherwise: though it poured with rain in the afternoon.


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