Saturday, September 22, 2007

My First Political Memory

Nich Starling (Norfolk Blogger) has tagged me in a new meme on first political memories. I'm going to cheat and have two. The first must have been in February 1974, when I was eleven. It was during the general election campaign. My mother was a Liberal voter (she had bit of a 'thing' for Jeremy Thorpe...) and my Dad said he was also going to vote Liberal as he couldn't stand Ted Heath. I remember going into their bedroom one morning and explaining to them that they should both vote Labour because the only thing the Conservatives had done was take us into the Common Market and that meant we had to get rid of our cattle. My father opened an eye and said: "go back to bed".

A year later I remember running up the stairs and crashing into my grandmother's (pic) bedroom (she was in bed, ill) and telling her that Margaret Thatcher had been elected leader of the Conservative Party. I was somewhat perplexed so see a tear running down her face and repeatedly saying: "I can't believe it". My grandmother was 81 at the time but had been a bit of feminist in her time. She just couldn't believe the Tory Party would elect a woman. I remember how excited she was to actually be able to vote for her in May 1979. Six months later she died.

I'm now going to tage the following bloggers to continue this meme. Matt Wardman, Shane Greer, John Redwood, Lynne Featherstone and Dizzy.

And if you;d like to share your own first political memory, click on COMMENTS.

20 comments:

verity said...

A very nice and enlightening vignette about your family, Iain. Thank you.

However, this tagging this is too, too precious and I don't usually read them.

Daily Referendum said...

That's going to take some beating Iain.

Anonymous said...

I was a political geek from an early age. As Paul Simon said "I had a childhood that was mercifully brief."

1973 - Power cuts and my dad saying it was all Ted Heath's fault. I imagined him personally coming to Doncaster and cutting the power cables in some act of terrorism. I was only four at the time.

1979 - Mrs Thatcher winning the election. I could not understand why. Everyone I had met said they were voting Labour and every house in our mining village had a Labour poster. I was eight and could not see how Callaghan had lost.

Anonymous said...

You look like your grandma!!

Andrew Kennedy said...

My first "political" memory was the 1977 local election. I was 10 years old.

Like your parents, my mother was also a Liberal supporter and she was out canvassing for local Liberal council candidate leaving me playing with friends in the next door neighbours' front garden.

Early in the evening the local Conservative candidate (a lady by the name of Jennifer Merrill)called canvassing. Being a very young political rebel I decided that I was a Conservative and asked if I could help. After asking if "mummy would mind" I told my first poltical "fib" and assured her that she would not. I then had a blue rosette pinned to my shirt and I was allowed to walk behind the group marking the canvassing card.

Sadly, we had only gone 25 yards when we came face to face with the Liberals travelling in the opposite direction.

To this day I remember the look of horror on my mother's face as she saw her precious son consorting with the enemy. I was quickly liberated of my nice blue ribbons and sent off to bed with a flea in my ear.

Fortunatley, my first taste of Conservative politics was soon a family affair as the subsequent Lib-Lab Pact made my Mother see the error of her ways and by 1978 she had left the Liberal Party and joined the Conservatives.

Sadly, Mum died in the early 1990's - but 30 years later I am still waddling behind the candidate marking the canvassing cards !

Anonymous said...

Earliest political memories:

1979 - Lancaster House Conference re Rhodesia

1980 - Iranian Embassy Siege

Plus ca change ...

Nicholas said...

My first political memory was when me and my mum were in the car and she popped out to vote in the polling station. I think it was the 1992 general election (I was six) and she voted Liberal Democrat. My next political memory was when I was eleven and on a school trip across the countryside in a coach and I saw a poster with John Major's face on it.

Laurence Boyce said...

The resignation of Harold Wilson, was my first political memory.

Anonymous said...

My mother's first political memory was in 1964 when she saw an old lady on her street break a broom over the back of a dustman who refused to empty her bin because she was displaying a Liberal poster in her front window. As the old lady smacked the broom over the large dustman she shouted "I have voted for Mr Lloyd George since 1929. He gave my grandad a pension and I will always vote for him."

Of course Lloyd George had been dead for almost 20 years and had not really been a Liberal Party member for over 30.

londonerr said...

I couldn't get past the 1st sentence. What is a 'meme'?

Anonymous said...

The Storming of the Iranian Embassy.

I'd have been 6 at the time, and it's a moment which has stuck in my memory ever since. A glorious memory, I should add.

At a tangent, I can't help thinking we should have cut the SAS loose on the IRA rather more often than we did.....

Wrinkled Weasel said...

My first memory of a Prime Minister was Alex Douglas Home, because, as a child, He looked like a living skull, and you had to pronounce his name "Hume" which kind of acted as an aide memoire.

For my first vote I put my cross against Sir Richard Body. I was told, in all seriousness, by people I trusted, that the Labour party were going to invite Russia to govern us and I was not prepared to plunge Linconshire into a Soviet fiefdom.

Liberals were seen as a refuge for mad people and young men who sounded like Julian and Sandy and even then I thought that Jeremy Thorpe looked like a rent collector, if not a collector of rent boys.

I know though when I was politicised. It was when I came into direct and personal conflict with the might of the print and broadcast unions in the 1970's. We were propagandised beyond belief when Thatcher took them on..she was commonly portrayed as the embodiment of evil. I just happen to have experienced it differently and regard Mrs Thatcher as one of England's greatest.

Guthrum said...

Doing A level revision by candlelight, still have the poor eysight and wax splattered books

Diablo said...

Oh dear, I am older than Wrinkled Weasel (but not so beautifully marked!) as I remember at the age of 14 years telling my Dad (who had voted Labour since he was demobbed in 1945) to vote for Sir Alex Douglas Hume. Needless to say he didn't take my advice.

Steve Dawson said...

First political memory - 1968 - assassination of RFK. First UK memory - 1973 - 3 day week - reading this in the newspapers as I delivered them on my paper round (I was 13).

Jasper said...

Mine: waking up one morning as a six year old in November of 1972 to learn the bitterly disappointing news that the candidate favored by my parents, George McGovern, had been defeated in a landslide by Richard Milhous Nixon, and would not in fact be moving into the White House.

The Iron Duke said...

My earliest political memory was ,aged 13, sending thirty pieces of silver (old 5p coins!) to Margaret Thatcher at 10,Downing Street, for her betrayal of Rhodesia by delivering that great country to the murdering Communist Scum Mugabe.
How right I was!

Shades said...

Mine was the school christmas disco by gaslight and accordion as one of those discontented winters was going on & electricity was off.

JH said...

It must have been Black Wednesday when i was 8. I remember a very grey and shellshocked looking Norman Lamont on tv and my dad swearing a lot! We went out for dinner at the local pub that evening and i remember the locals crowded around the tv in the bar watching it all unfold on the evening news. Being 8 i didn't really understand economics but i remember sensing something huge was in the offing, and that it wasn't going to be very good for the man with big glasses who was called the 'prime minister'

Londoner said...

What youngsters most of this lot are. Some of these first memories seem like the other day to me.

My first memory of British politics was the run-up, and result, of the 1964 election when Wilson defeated Home (and I was eight). The run-up memory was of my father getting annoyed with either socialists, or interviewers (probably both), on the TV when they were attacking Tories. He feared the socialists would be back, and he was right. There was a hatred and fear of the Labour Party (always called the Socialists) amongst much of the professional middle classes in those days which is difficult to appreciate now. I think I have a vague recollection of Quintin Hogg being the Tory under attack.

When the Tories had lost, my parents were extremely sombre and I remember feeling that it must be very important to everyday life, but I could not fully see in what way. The day after the election (or probably the Saturday) I remember asking my mother if going shopping in the local High Street would be completely different as a result of the "change of Government". I think I must have got the impression that it was more like a revolution, so seriously had my parents seemed to take it. It was still quite a few years after that before I knowingly met anyone who voted Labour other than the husband of our daily help, who was "suspected" of doing so as he was a shop steward at the local factory.

But my first political memory overall was November 1963, when Kennedy was shot dead (and I was 7). It was a Friday night and my parents had gone out to a party and a friend of theirs was looking after me. I was very keen on a medical drama at the time "Emergency Ward 10" and turned the TV on at probably around 7.30pm to watch it, only to hear instead an emergency news bulletin and then be told by a sombre announcer that the programme was cancelled owing to the news from America. At this point he was stated as "fighting for his life" rather than definitely dead. I ran and told the babysitter in another room, who was very shocked and came to look at the TV. I do not remember if I heard that night that he had died. If someone had asked me earlier that day to name the President of the USA I am not sure that I would have been able to do so, but it was clearly very serious as it had disrupted my favourite TV programme. The next morning I remember my parents saying that they had heard the news at the party, although I don't think anyone left early or anything. The following few days I paid it all lots of attention and sure knew who he was after that.

Putting these events together, it's curious to think that my parents were definitely more shocked by the General Election result that they were about President Kennedy.