Back to the future

If you’d have spoken to me on the morning of May 1 1997, I’d have been a nervous wreck. As Britain went to the polls, it felt like it was time for change. After all, Britain had been controlled by the Conservatives (largely Margaret Thatcher) for 18 years, and the country was crying out for a new way of doing things.

Despite a tide of sentiment that was fundamentally in support of change, and even with The Sun coming out in favour of Tony Blair, I think plenty of people spent many hours worrying that the polls had been wrong, and that John Major would be swept back to power on the basis of fear of change. More to the point, Labour had made a habit out of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so anything was possible.

As it was, Blair won a landslide majority, and Britain found itself with a Labour Prime Minister for the first time since 1979. The feeling on the streets of London (where I lived at the time) the following morning was like nothing I have ever experienced. People smiled, for a start. There was a real sense of public optimism, and a feeling that the UK was entering a whole new era. Put simply, Britain felt like a different kind of place.

Of course, that feeling didn’t stop dodgy dossiers, the Millennium Dome, slow handclapping at the Women’s Institute and cash for honours, but at the time, it was a new dawn for the country.

Fast forward eleven years (and head 3458 miles west), and America is potentially on the verge of the same monumental mandate for change. I’ve got that nervous feeling in my stomach again, despite polls that suggest there’s more chance of me being elected President than that funny little man with the grey hair. I’m reading the news voraciously, and I spend any spare time on this site looking for evidence that the country is turning increasingly blue. It feels like there‚Äôs never been a more important American election in my lifetime.

I’m actually out of the country next Tuesday, but when I return on Wednesday, I’m hoping that the immigration officers have smiles on their faces, and that the taxi drivers thronging in the arrivals hall have an extra skip in their step.

May 2 1997 felt like the start of a new chapter. Here’s hoping that November 5 2008 is the beginning of a whole new book.

10 thoughts on “Back to the future

  1. IanB

    It is definitely time for a change. The statisical odds seem to be well and truly set against the lovely John McC but is it me or does it seem like Obama has all the makings of a marked man? There’s been two known plots by racially-motivated extremists against him and, one assumes, there will be several other groups vying for his scalp when if he gets into power.

    It’s a funny old world. Good luck to whoevever finally wins the vote – they have a great big mess to sort out once the current incumbent’s boxes of teddy bears finally get wheeled out and the new man strides in for the first day of our collective Brave New World…I don’t envy them at all.

  2. Milo

    I am an Obama convert. I wasn’t convinced at first (due to his inexperience) but ever since McCain brought that bulldog with lipstick on board and I started sitting up and listening – I knew Obama was the man that MUST win that election. Also, though I have not followed it closely, he comes across as (OK you can call me naive now!) decent and genuine. I wouldn’t trust McCain nor that pitbull as far as I could throw them.

  3. The Best Man's Wife

    Fingers firmly crossed. We’ll be counting electoral college votes with you on Tuesday. And if the Old Man and the Pitbull happen to pull it off, you and the Special One and sprogs can take refuge in our attic.

  4. Sven

    I saw the ‘Yes we can’ video for Barack Obama on youtube yesterday and got the same feeling. I might stay up all night on Tuesday to see what happens.

  5. Expat Mum

    Agh! Don’t go jinxing it! I have already voted and it was quite special! I have also put in for tickets to go to Millenium Park next Tuesday night as that’s where he’ll be. Not sure if I’ll actually go as it’ll be a bit late, but it would be fantastic.

  6. MikeH

    My biggest regret is that I did not receive my absentee ballot this year. I don’t know why, but by the time I noticed, it was too late. Still, I will be there in spirit when they count the ballots.

    I am a Republican, but I feel it’s time to send the GOP to sit on the naughty step for a while and think about what they’ve done.

    As for the Labour Party . . .

  7. Alasdair

    Dylan – just so the echo-chamber effect isn’t too pronounced …

    As one who was politically-aware during the Carter years and the first two Clinton years, an Obama win next week is not necessarily a Good Thing …

    Ask any of your honest friends who are old enough to have voted in 1976 if they voted for Carter, and then ask ’em how quickly they came to regret that vote … and Carter at least is/was honest, and had executive office experience at the State Governor level …

    MikeH has the odour of a RINO on him – since he appears to not give any credit or culpability to the folk who have controlled this entire Congress, since the end of January, 2007 – a hint – it wasn’t the Republicans …

    As for next Tuesday – who knows at this point ?

    Me – I’m curious just how quickly Patrick J. Fitzgerald can get a RICO prosecution going for the Obama Campaign’s shenanigans fund-raising with the customary credit-card fraud safeguards actively and intentionally disabled … of course, if Obama is elected, any prosecutor active on such a case would be fired, as happened when Clinton was elected in 1992 …

  8. Alasdair

    Expat Mum – yup … another “Hope” election … where another someone who sounded plausible until you paid attention to the words he used got elected – and then couldn’t stand up to the noble Senators and CongressCritters … the result was 18%+ inflation by 1980 – and if you think the rest of the planet doesn’t respect the US now, this ain’t nuthin’ compared to how things were in the early part of 1980 – when US diplomats were considered to be in season, and fair game …

    Did you try asking around, to see who remembers back then ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *