“Oh Fuck Me, not this shit again!!!!”
This was my reaction when Teresa May stood outside 10 Downing street and announced that the nation would be plunged into the bollocks that is a general election, despite the fact that we thought we were safe from one for another two years. There was an election in 2015, Brexit and the US Election in 2016 and now we have to go through all this shit again, the name calling, the insults, the insufferable memes and those posts on social media bragging about “isn’t it the most wonderful thing to have the vote? make sure you don’ waste your democratic right,” and then the next day crying and complaining at those who used that democratic right for the wrong person. All this so we can get to choose which gang colours we want for the next four years. Do we want the Crips (Conservative), the Bloods (Labour) or the Latin Kings (Lib Dems)?
It’s all crap and I’m only going to vote this Thursday for a quiet life (actually that’s not true my local MP Labour’s Dan Jarvis is a genuine good guy), but as crap as I think politics is I’m not above exploiting it to get a few hits here on Halfguarded. And so finally I present the follow up to my Margaret Thatcher piece I posted on this fine site several months back, the one I promised that would detail the shower of shite that followed in the footsteps of the Iron Bitch.
Note: This article (if it can be called as such) is going to be based 100% on my recollections in true gonzo fashion. I will be checking dates and chronology and figures, but no further research as this is precious time I could be spending:
watching La LA LAND
reading Anna Kenderick’s autobiography.
Or watching Shayna Bazler playing video games on her Twitch Stream.
I’m praying for Shayna to do a twitch stream on election night, speaking of which here is a link to her stream
So we begin where we left off (link here to my piece on the Thatcher years ) with Thatcher leaving Dowing Street in floods of tears.
Ewoks danced and played “Jub Jub”, Hobbits and Gandalf sailed away into the distance and Michael Caine spotted Bruce Wayne and Catwoman having a coffee in Paris., for evil had been vanquished and in it’s place we had
The John Major Years (1990 -97)
After the hard face and seemingly callous Margaret Thatcher you really couldn’t get more different than her successor John Major. A for the most part mild mannered, softly spoken, bespectacled gentleman who liked his cricket, and along with his nice plain wife Norma was the kind of inoffensive, dream neighbour who’d keep to themselves and be no trouble at all to live next to.
That said he was still a Tory and was quite happy to carry on putting Docker and Miners out of work and when George Bush decided to repeal the Iraqi invaders from Kuwait in Gulf War I, John Major was right there with him. Well, it obviously was not literally him going, but like all leaders he was quite happy to send other people’s sons and daughters to do the fighting.
It also turns out he surprisingly was a bit of a lad too as years later it came out he had an affair while Prime Minister, although it wasn’t some lovely bit of cute totty he was getting it on with over the Prime Minister desk but his colleague the frankly vile Edwina Currie.
John didn’t have the easiest time as Prime Minister early on. The spectre of Thatcher weighed over him, as when she appeared at party conferences she would get standing ovations as she sat impassively looking like the Ayatollah and Major looked all awkward like he’d turned up at a party no body actually wanted him at. He inherited a country in recession and his party was way behind in the opinion polls with Labour’s Neil Kinnock standing in the ring and calling out for a title shot and an immediate General Election.
Major wasn’t going for it and he put off the first defence of his Prime Minister championship belt until 1992 by which time the polls showed the two main parties were neck and neck and the likely outcome was a hung parliament with Labour taking the lead.
Despite having come up short in his challenge against Thatcher Neil Kinnock was massively confident for his clash with Major going into the election. And sure enough on 1st April Neil Kinnock arrived by Helecopter at a massive victory rally, triumphantly screaming “We’re all right!” three times and introducing the cabinet of the first Labour government for 13 years.
Only trouble was the election wasn’t for another nine days. Labour had jumped the gun somewhat as election night came with the polls still predicting a close hung government (one newspaper due to the print deadlines announced the next morning a Labour victory) with the BBC introducing “The Swing-o-meter” to illustrate the fact. Yet when the first results came in the polls were proved to be way out with a late swing for the Conservatives (or people polled had simply lied and were shy to admit to voting Tory) and as the night went on it was clear that Major was winning the election.
The reasons for the turnaround were blamed on the infamous rally, a scandal over an ad showing a young girl waiting for an ear operation which it turned out was just a young actress. But according to my mum the real reason Kinnock lost was because he had ginger hair.
There is also a theory called “Shy Tory” that may explain why the opinion polls got it wrong, with the idea that when asked people are embarrassed to say they are voting Tory and when they get in the booth do just that. It’s sort of the same principle as Def Leppard and Bon Jovi seeling about 100 million albums between them when hardly anyone admits to like them.
Of course the never biased and shining light of journalistic integrity “The Sun” claims it was this headline that turned the tide.
Britain remained Blue but soon it became Black, “Black Wednesday” to be exact when the pound dropped massively in value and Major almost resigned during the economic crisis that resulted. His approval rating dropped and for the next four years the party was in crisis as Major struggled through allegations of “Sleeze” in his cabinet and challenges to his leadership. By the time of the next election even the newspaper “The Sun” which had proudly claimed at the last election “It was the sun that won it” for the Conservatives had switched its support to Labour.
Kinnock had resigned after the last Labour defeat and replaced by a good old fashioned Socialist in John Smith, who would many said would have made a fine Prime Minister but died of a heart attack in 1994. Labour however had decided to go a different direction, tired of losing out on the big night they morphed the party into “New Labour!” keeping the red colour but without all those socialist and trade union vibes that put people off voting for them and with a smarter, friendlier image.
The man who would head this new party was Tony Blair, who looked smart in a suit and had a lovely smile and talked all nice and shit and had a full head of hair that wasn’t ginger in anyway. In a way he was a marketing dream and it was if Labour had kidnapped a Tory and reprogrammed him, lke the rebels did with that Imperial droid in Rogue One. Blair kicked all those mouthy and angry trade unionists into a cupboard and while the Conservatives fell further apart with spilts over Europe and a breakwaway party called the Referendum Party, Blair breezed through the election campaign and in 1992 won the election with biggest landslide ever. And it was glorious, “Things can only get better” rang out everywhere as after all those years of hurt the Blue Flag fell and finally we could once again sing “We’ll keep the red flag flying here!” although that song was considered a relic of old Labour and didn’t get played much.
The next morning Major left Downing Street to watch Cricket and everyone went “Awww what a nice man.” While Blair moved in and immediately threw a champagne party in Downing street for lots of celebrities and rock stars. And while there was lots of celebrating amongst us Labour Supporters after all those years of hurt there was an uneasy chill for anyone watching that party with open sober eyes and bringing to mind the ending from George Orwell’s Animal Farm “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
By the way in British Politics there is no long period after the election for the changeover to take place like in the USA. Over here the day after the election the new mob move into Dowining Street and the other’s are out on their arse.
The Tony Blair Years (1997-2007)
While Blair may not have been the tub thumbing red Socialist that traditional Labour party had been waiting for (the striking Liverpool Dockers got little in support from new Labour) his time as Prime Minister saw him annact a number of social reforms. He increased spending on health and education, brought in the minimum wage and expanded the welfare state. He brought about the Northern Ireland peace process and brought devolution to Wales and Scotland. The rights and equality for the LGBT community were increased.
Looking back it was all really lovely. Because of this he easily defended his Prime Minister Championship in June of 2001 in one of the least dramatic elections ever, defeating Tory Leader William Hague who had first appeared on the political scene at the age of 16 doing a speech at the Conservatives party conference in one of the most obnoxious and cringe worthy moments in politics ever. It was such an easy campaign that when his son got pissed up and arrested and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott punched a guy in the face for throwing an egg at him just a few days before the election it didn’t make a bit of difference.
Sadly just a few months into his second term all the goodwill Blair had earned and his legacy would be forever tarnished by his foreign policy following the events on 9/11.
While our Tony had a clear majority of support on the British public his opposite number across the sea Mini-George Bush had been eventually been awarded the Presidency after maybe winning the 2001 US election, no one seems quite sure due to some weird stuff going on in Florida. In any case it was a narrow victory and the tipping point was apparently something Jerry Lawler said on WWF RAW which sounds a great story and if I don’t research it I can’t prove it wrong.
After 9/11 Mini-Bush invaded the Middle East (well not him personally, but he did send lots of sons and daughters off to do it, none of them his or his fellow politicians by the way) starting with Afghanistan and later Iraq. It could have been the most historic moment in the history of Prime Ministers if Blair had broken with the tradition of the UK following America into war. But instead at the crucial moment Blair in order to keep the “Special Relationship” intact sent our troops to fight alongside Americans just as any Tory leader would have done, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the anti war party.
By going to war Blair saw his popularity dip but it appeared to have little effect on the election in 2005 (after all the Conservatives would have taken the same course of action) although they did lose 47 seats to the other parties. Blair’s opposite number in 2005 was Michael Howard who was balding and Welsh and so had the deck stacked against him from the start. The Conservatives were still struggling to rise out of their leadership turmoil as Howard was the second leader in this period between elections. The first leader immediately after the 2001 election had been Iain Duncan Smith but was replaced as leader before the next election when he made a speech which was supposed to reinvent him as a more dynamic personality but just succeeded in making a twat out of himself.
With his popularity on the wane especially with the UK’s protracted involvement in Iraq long after the official end of the war, Blair resigned in 2007 and as per the terms of a gentlemen’s agreement passed the post of Prime Minister to Gordon Brown.
Gordon Brown (2007-2010)
I’ll be honest I can’t remember a thing about this period, except for that Brown had a face like a slapped arse the whole time. The only noteworthy thing I recall was towards the end of the 2010 election campaign when he referred to a woman as a small minded bigot, forgetting he’s left a microphone on and had the comment ended up on the radio.
Brown was actually being interviewed when he was told about the gaff.
The Coalition (2010-2015)
And thus British politics became a pro wrestling angle.
In the 2010 the political climate had changed massively. With interest in the election at a high due to the first US style televised debates between the three main parties, this was a close election with Conservatives leading in the opinion polls but with the expectations that neither Brown’s Labour or the Conservatives under David Cameron would have a majority and with a hung parliament it would be finally time for the Liberal Democrats to come into play. The Liberals were seen as being a strong alternative due to their anti war stance and the performance of Nicholas Clegg who had stolen the show in the live debates.
Come election night people who stayed up all night to see the crowning of the Prime Minister fell asleep disappointed because as expected no party had secured the 326 seats needed to form a government with Conservatives having 306, Labour 258 and the Liberals 57 (actually less than in the 2006 election). And then as the three competitors in this three way dance stood in the ring and stared warily at each other, Cameron and Clegg squared off with each other looked across at Brown and as both began to smile shook hands with Clegg adding his votes to Cameron to reach passed the 326 seats and for the new faction THE COALITION.
Clegg had done a heel turn, accepting the role of deputy Prime Minister and the two proceeded to beat down Brown in the ring while Jim Ross screamed “BY GOD, CLEGG HAS TURNED HIS BACK ON US ALL AND JOINED CAMERON…WHY CLEGG WHY? YOU COLD HEARTED SON OF A BITCH!”
So with the coalition no one got the result they wanted. Worst of all was for those who voted Liberal Democrats, who had effectively found their votes used with out their permission to put the Tory leader into 10 Downing Street. Pretty fucked up when you think about it.
And then the coalition went on a rampage. David Cameron vowed to get the UK’s fiances into the black and out of the recession if it was going to kill him. Well not him more accurately us. He went into the UK’s public service sector with a machine gun, making cuts across the services and throwing people out of their jobs in the process. Meanwhile students who had voted Liberal with the promise of an end to tuition fees got out of bed before 11 for a change and went out and rioted when it was clear that Clegg in the coalition would not be able to deliver.
For five years the coalition storyline went on, with Clegg and Cameron eyeing each other aware that one day they would turn and face each other again. When the 2015 election came around it seemed that as a nation we still wouldn’t be able to make up our minds collectively, with the polls suggesting that yet another hung parliament could be expected.
Notably wary of this was David Cameron who was fearful that his party would get less seats than Labour and who would be left out in the cold with the Lib Dems jumping like a cheap hussy into bed with Labour and which ever smaller parties were necessary to form a government. Of most concern was the emergence of UKIP, a new party built around a “leave Europe” platform and who it was expected were drawing their support from Conservatives dissatisfied with Britain’s role in Europe.
Cameron though had an idea, he would pledge that if elected the Conservatives would give the nation their say by holding a referendum on whether to remain in Europe or not. This he gambled would win back those votes from UKIP and help the Conservatives gain the most seats and be in the prime position to ensure it’s place as the ruiling party in whatever coalition government was formed.
Cameron did not want to leave Europe, but here was the beauty of his plan because since it was expected he wouldn’t win outright he would not have to go through with the referendum. Since his potential coalition cohorts whether they be Liberal Dems or Labour would not join a coalition with the referendum in place Cameron could say “Hey, I said if the conservatives win the election we’d have a referendum but the Conservaties didn’t win the election, it’s a coaltion and these guys won’t go for it. Sorry!”
Except wouldn’t you know went and won 330 seats and won the election outright?
Yep like Nicholas Cage telling a waitress he’ll spilt his lottery winnings with her if his ticket wins, David Cameron was duty bound to deliver and one year after the General election we were all called back to the poling stations again to vote on whether we wanted to stay in Europe or leave or as it was later coined “Brexit!”
And it was the weirdest time. All the party leaders agreed we should stay in Europe (the Liberals by now were at their lowest influence having come away with a whopping 8 seats in the election, most of them lost to the SNP), yet for some reason none of them thought to all stand together and work as one on a single unifying platform. Because you know, politics.
And it made for strange bedfellows even if no one would realise or admit it. I knew lots of lifelong Labour voters who thought Tories were nothing but scum but were staunchly opposed to leaving Europe and hence were actually on the same side as the Tory leader. Although they’d never actually acknowledge it. And all of sudden big business leaders and bankers who were normally considered greedy, corrupt, untrustworthy bastards were now suddenly respectable and wise if they cautioned against leaving the EU.
Any reasoned debate or discussion went the way of the dodo as the population turned on itself, slinging mud and name calling at a level normally reserved for Marvel vs DC film debates on message boards. To admit to thinking of voting to leaving the EU became tantamount to having “I hate foreigners” tattooed on your forehead as if there could be no other reason for being sceptical about Europe than being an obvious racist.
And of course it’s fair to say that any racists or narrow minded bigots would be naturally voting Brexit, but why brush everyone with the same stroke? Amongst those 17 and half million who voted to leave is it not possible that many may have had other concerns that prompted them to vote that way. You know like people who lived in poverty and in rundown communities and may have wondered how being in the EU was benefiting them. But why consider someone else’s circumstances when it’s much easier to look down on them and berate them for their stupidity?
Patronising memes appeared on social media listing the sort of people who were against Brexit and the sort of people who were for it. Generally the loveliest of the lovely were listed for remain while the most vile and derided were shown as being for Brexit. Rather strangely the human rights and immigration champion George Galloway was absent from these lists as his pro Brexit stance didn’t fit the narrative.
As a disclaimer I should point out that I actually voted to remain, but the condescending attitude shown by my fellow voters frankly sickened me and at the least was counterproductive. Here’s a thought, in an election when people are voting the other way from you, how about trying a respectful approach to changing their mind and winning them back, rather than mocking them and treating them with scorn and driving them and their vote away forever?
Anyway, the nation voted to withdraw and I was glad to escape the nonsense and bugger off out of the country to Vegas for two weeks.
Now normally when an American lady hears my accent the response is along the lines of “ooooo your voice is so hot!!!!…….but sorry that face, no!” Whereas now it was “you’re English? what do you think of Brexit?”
When I returned to British shores a new leader Theresa May was sat on the Iron Throne while David Cameron was no where to be seen, so I presume he’d been beheaded, eaten by a dragon or poisoned at the Purple wedding.
Which brings us to today. May called for an Election in April. citing that getting an election out of the way now would mean the country could concentrate on the delicate task of leaving the EU in the best way possible. Of course the fact when she called the election the Labour party was seemingly in shambles as it adjusted to having an old school socialist in Jeremy Corbyn as leader. As well as sensing the public’s reluctance to vote for a less than immaculately dressed man as Prime Minister, May was also probably prompted for an election now rather than later due to the possibility of some tough times ahead in the next few years and didn’t want an election coming up again when we were right in that shit.
However things may have backed fired on Theresa. Those always reliable opinion polls have shown a massive swing in support for Labour in the last week, spurred on by her turning down chance to take part in the live debates and some of her policies which have seemed intent on shafting the poor and the elderly. Also with several tragic events recently, those cuts on the police forces are coming back to haunt her in a big way.
We could once again be heading for another hung Parliament which would bring in the Liberal Democrats again under the leadership of……I’ll be honest I literally have no clue who is leading the Lib Dems.
In any case this election seems to be proving a tough sell with the public. When I walk around I see very few party posters in windows or signs in gardens like usual, it’s as if a malaise has settled in, with an over saturation of elections recently. But to me it’s fitting that I write this as we’re back to where we started at the beginning of my Thatcher piece, with the nation choosing between a cold hearted , stern battleaxe of a woman and a rough looking Socialist.
Who knows maybe we’ll get a return to the days when guys like this ran in the election.
Anyway I’m done, if you’ve read through this shit I owe you a drink.