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Memories of 1992 - The Ex-Communicator

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February 27th, 2012


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07:33 am - Memories of 1992
My daughter's twentieth birthday is in a couple of weeks. I was bedridden for a couple of weeks afterwards, recovering, and the first time I went out of the house on my own legs was to vote in the 1992 General Election, which was the 9th April. I took my baby with me in a little pram thing, and I was barely able to walk to the polling station. I always get out to vote.

That was an extremely memorable election. The Conservatives won, against the prediction of many polls. There was a sense of public grief and shock afterwards. I think because although numbers were fairly even, feelings were stronger in the anti-Government camp. Since that traumatic experience the Conservatives have not won a general election in twenty years.

The Conservatives had been wounded by the Poll Tax, but they managed to win the election. Many people blamed Neil Kinnock for failing to hit that open goal, perhaps by being triumphalist and partisan in the way he presented himself. I think Kinnock is quite an intuitive politician, and he intuited that the Tories were a spent force, and in his excitement he lost concentration and attention to detail in the last few weeks of the campaign. He got sloppy.

That's the danger of operating on intuition; you react emotionally to the future rather than the present (or you could say, you react to what is not real, and in Kinnock's case it was a non-future) and that's jarring or even offensive to other people who are more grounded. I am intuitive rather than intellectual and I experienced that after the 2010 election, where I reacted emotionally to what is now happening (ie events that were in the future at that point) which put me out of step with many people. I know I seemed over-emotional to some. Conversely now as the inevitable unfolds I seem unemotional, because I had my angry reaction already.

Anyway, getting distracted from my main point. I was also going to say that part of the problem was that people did not vote tactically in the 1992 election. The election demonstrated the effect of this, and people adjusted their behaviour. I think there is a centre of gravity to the British electorate, which is to the right of me but to the left of the Tories and Lib Dems. People try to game the system to get that result. My feeling is that if the current government try to game the system back, for example by shedding Scotland or redrawing constituencies, it will end very badly because they will be permanently out of step with the feelings of the population. I think 1992 showed that there are worse things than losing an election.

ETA here is a piece I just read in today's Guardian by Chris Rennard, a former Chief Exec of the Lib Dems. He is someone I would not find much to agree with, but he totally makes the same point that I do above, that the Tories are trying to game the system to put them in permanent power regardless of popular support, and particularly calls attention to the Tory plans to end local authorities' legal requirement to register new voters.

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:Steve Davies
Date:February 28th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
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We were married on April 8th 1992, in Vegas, so we missed the election. It warranted a few sentences on CNN along the lines of, "well, fancy that." What with the jet-lag and all, that election always had a dream-like quality for me.

It was years later that I saw footage of the infamous Labour rally where Kinnock thought he was some kind of pop star. So maybe it would have been dream-like even if I had been in the country.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:February 28th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
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Oh, really? Long before I knew you. Kinnock totally lost it, in both senses; perhaps from too long a wait for it to happen, he blew it.

BTW I hope you lambing is all completed happily and successfully. I was in the Peaks a week ago and saw all the lambs and thought of you.
[User Picture]
From:tehomet
Date:March 9th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
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For sure, I think the Tories are in power against popular opinion and will do all they can to stay in power indefinitely. It's quite scary that they have so much power and so little in the way of mandate. Kind of like how the US President has so much power over our lives and do we have a vote in that? Nope. Democracy isn't enough, in many ways.

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