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changing the team is the better part of democracy



commentary • 11.05.97

And so it was. Landslide was too mild a term they said, as all sorts of superlatives and military metaphors were used to describe Labour’s historic victory. No one could have predicted the near total rejection of the Conservatives especially in Scotland and Wales, giving insight into how tired the nation at large had become of the old government.

And we have a new bunch now. All young and shiny and full of their own potential. A small inner core of half a dozen or so forty-somethings with the power and authority to carry out a manifesto which some described as a mandate to do whatever they pleased. Not quite. But something different is the call and as I’ve said before, changing the team is the better part of democracy.

I felt good about the whole thing. That 18 years of disarray and defeat could be reversed so triumphantly in one night seemed almost unbelievable and gave me moments of hope for my own situation - that sometimes dreams do get realised. More sceptically, I don’t of course go as far as actually expecting now that “Things Will Get Better” (whatever things might be) for people in general or me in particular, as I don’t believe that politics itself ever really changes much. That is a much more profound and complex process. Consequently I think there will be many from Labour’s old constituency set for a disillusioning as Blair is sincere when he says that there is no going back. “It’s a new dawn, is it not?” he was able to proclaim to a euphoric party. He couldn’t go back even if he wanted to. Where forward might be remains to be seen.

The Tories are left in bewilderment and it is difficult not to take some satisfaction that they got what they deserved. Major stands down, Heseltine collapses, Portillo is out, a whole raft of front-liners lose their seats. What can the remainder possibly say or do now to resurrect their position? Welcome to the wilderness, chaps!