Why UK Election is a Reverse of the 1997 Conservative Bloodbath That Sealed My Political Fate

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By Jerry Hayes | 3:32 am, May 3, 2017
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Unexpectedly, and to the horror of those standing for election, Britain is going to the polls.  Or, as has been unkindly noted, “to the dogs” if we crash out of Europe.

President Trump thinks that this a great idea, even “beautiful”, which gives you an indication of how dangerously demented the policy is. In Britain, we look at the President with a scary fascination as he runs your country with all the skill of Edward Scissorhands making balloon animals.

Way back in 1983, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was elected a member of the British Parliament at the ripe old age of 29. I spent 14 happy years as a Conservative representative.

No, no!!! Not your type of Conservative.  We were not a devout band of snake wrestling, gun touting tea partiers with the intellectual and emotional intelligence of Sarah Palin at a hockey match.  Nor did we want to lay waste to health and education with the zeal of a Mohel with a chain saw.

We were more like Democrats with a sense of fiscal responsibility. But all political careers end in tears. Prime Minister John Major was a good and kind man who had rescued the British economy. Yet the party was in turmoil. Margaret Thatcher had been thrown out of office and the Amish wing (Major called them ‘the Bastards’) were still in mourning for her.

They also were of the swivel eyed, carpet biting brigade who were psychopathically fixated on all things anti Europe. At a time when we should have been riding high in the polls, the Conservative Party had degenerated into a mutinous rabble. And with a tiny majority in the House of Commons the country was effectively ungovernable. We were in office but not in power.

In 1997 Prime Minister Major called a general election. It was not a happy experience. The people in my district were very kind to me. But it was the sort of kindness that you offer to your faithful family dog before taking him to the veterinarian to be put out of its misery. And there were some who wanted me to meet my maker somewhat earlier.

Once I was standing outside a tower block (like an adolescent sky scraper) when a bag of flour hurtled towards me from the very top. Luckily it missed; just. If it had hit me the remnants of my head would have had to be scraped from the floor.

On another occasion a man who reeked of alcohol and ill will rushed up to me and knocked me to the ground. It is at these times executive decisions have to be made. Years of training clicked in. Did I call an ambulance or the Press Association? A no-brainer. I am a politician and a media whore of distinction. A news crew was dispatched immediately.

As a government and a party we were dangerously unpopular. The people had stopped listening. You could tell a Conservative supporter by the bells they wore round their necks. And it didn’t help having a young, thrusting and infuriatingly charismatic Tony Blair (pictured, above, at the time) as leader of the Labour Party and potential Prime Minister.

If the people had had the chance of voting for a used car salesman, a drug dealer, a street hood and a Conservative, we would still have been at the bottom of the poll.

One day whilst canvassing I spotted the lonely figure of a Jehovah’s Witness who was also trudging the streets. I went up to him and put a friendly arm around the shoulder telling him, ‘My friend, enjoy the moment. This will be one of the few times that you will be welcome on the porch’.

In this year’s election the boot is on the other foot. The Conservatives are riding high in the polls while Labour is in meltdown. They are led by a man called Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, I know that you have never heard of him. Just think of Bernie Sanders without the brain and personality. He is an old-fashioned Socialist who is not too keen on a nuclear deterrent nor NATO. He also wants to raise taxes. Oh, dear.

But back to 1997. I knew that I was done for. So I instructed all my campaign team to look cheerful as the Grim Reaper approached and I was reduced to parliamentary roadkill.

As I marched out to a waiting car doing all those dopey things that politicians do, like waving and pointing to non-existent people, I received a lot of personal abuse from a television cameraman who was running backwards trying to capture shots of my humiliation. “Watch out, there is a slope right behind you,” I warned him.

He merely repeated an expletive depicting sex and travel and then flew head over heels down the slope and broke his arm. The only cheering experience that I had that day.

Laugh? I could have cried.