The ageing process doesn’t just mean hair loss, weight gain and increasing health issues (though I’ve managed to escape 2 out of those 3). It also means you gain something important called perspective. The big story this week is the announcement of a General Election by Teresa May. I make a conscious effort to be positive, it doesn’t come easy to me but the alternative is depression, which is worse. I would like to be positive about the outcome of the forthcoming General Election. But it’s difficult. My own life story is in a small way tangled up with Jeremy Corbyn’s. I lived in his constituency. I was a party member in it and I campaigned with other members to get him elected for the first time in 1983. I’m active in a different way nowadays. I no longer knock on doors on election day trying to get the vote out. I just try and have an influence with family and friends and anyone else I come into contact with on a personal level. And I also try and do so through social media and my writing. Jeremy is not perfect and I would be suspicious of him if he were. He could be a better leader of the party. And there are members of Parliament who could have done things differently to. Divided parties are not usually successful and what will be will be with regards to June 8. Afterwards I expect Corbyn to reflect on the outcome and make a decision about how best to serve the interests of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Why did the Prime Minister call the election. Nick Robinson of the BBC became Mrs. Merton as he gently slid in this question
Nick Robinson: What is it about the recent 20% opinion poll [lead] that first attracted you to the idea of a general election?
Teresa May: ‘Look, I’ve taken this decision and I took it reluctantly … before Easter I had the opportunity to really take some time out to think about this having seen what was happening, having heard the statements being made by opposition parties about what they wanted to do to the rest of the Brexit process.’
Does she sound a bit rattled to you?
It’s a brilliant interview and here are some other parts of it that demolish May’s argument it’s necessary;
Nick Robinson: Just explain to people how many times have you been defeated in the House of Commons on Brexit?
Teresa May: We got the article 50 legislation through
Nick Robinson: None. No defeats.
Teresa May: No defeats in the House of Commons
Nick Robinson: A majority of 384. So where are these divisions in Westminster that are doing you so much damage?
One thing I keep hearing is ‘the Labour Party’s finished’. Now lets come back to perspective. I am old enough to remember the foundation of the Social Democratic Party by the Gang of Four. This too was going to result in the death of the Labour Party. After 2 General Elections it was the SDP that died and merged with the Liberal’s. The following charts the performance of the Labour Party since I was 14 years old.
1979 – 11.5 million. Jim Callaghan loses the General Election to Margaret Thatcher.
1983 – 8.5 million. Michael Foot is leader and the SDP is formed to destroy the party.
1987 – 10.0 million. Neil Kinnock loses his first election and the SDP is still trying.
1992 – 11.6 million. The SDP gives up and they merge with the Liberals.
1997 – 13.5 million. John Smith died whilst leader and was replaced by Tony Blair, he did well didn’t he? Victory.
2001 – 10.7 million. Where did those 2.8 million votes disappear to?
2005 – 9.5 million. And another lost 1.2 million votes? Did invading Iraq have something to do with it?
2010 – 8.6 million. Gordon Brown gets the job he wanted and another 900,000 votes disappear.
2015 – 9.3 million. Ed Milliband improves the vote but loses all but 1 seat in Scotland. In the meantime the Tories capture most of the Liberal seats and gain 330 seats and a small majority (325 needed to form a Government without the need for votes from other parties).
Keep the faith and don’t despair and sink into inactivity. Accept there are pros and cons to getting older.