On becoming a senior citizen

65th birthday lunch at Gravetye Manor, Sussex

I believe the saying has it ‘what goes around comes around’.  So take heart, younger readers – or not, depending on your politics!

40 years ago I was 25 for the first time. From 1967 onwards we’d had huge poll leads pretty well consistently. We’d won Council after Council – including Manchester and the GLC and Liverpool! Then, in the spring of 1970 – for no apparent reason – it all started to go wrong. Or so we thought. The County elections in April showed a bit of a Labour revival. The locals in May (yes we did have separate elections in consecutive months in those days! ) were actually quite good for Labour, so Harold Wilson decided to trot up the Mall to see HM and have a GE on 18th June (anniversary of Waterloo).

On the Saturday before polling day the NOP in the Daily Mail showed Labour with a 12% lead over the Conservatives. The Evening Standard was more hopeful – Labour lead 2%. On the morning of the 18th no poll gave us a lead at all, though they did all suggest a tight finish. I got a huge laugh when explaining to my VI formers on polling day why the Tories were going to win. By Friday afternoon they were hailing me as a prophet.

It turned out to be one of the most exciting election nights of my life and by lunchtime on 19th Ted Heath was on his way down the Mall with a majority of 30 overall in his pocket.

So what this new senior citizen is telling you all is, we’ve been here before and we held firm to our resolve and we won. As my parents’ generation would have had it, we resolved to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.

If this helps you, tell your friends. If not, keep it to thi’sen, as we used to say up North!


About pauljohnston

Elected as Conservative councillor in Surbiton Hill, Kingston upon Thames in 1998. Re-elected 2002 and 2006. Former parliamentary candidate in Lancashire and Birmingham. Ceased to be a Councillor (temporarily?) in 2010. Active among Residents' Associations in Surbiton Hill and among residents in social housing generally. Former teacher of History at St. Brendan's College Bristol and Head of History and Politics at the London Oratory School. Worked with Sutton Trust running summer schools for sixth formers at Oxford University from 1997-2000 aiming to improve uptake of places from pupils from state schools which sent very few applicants to Oxbridge.
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Conservatives, Elections, Labour, Personal, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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