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Having suggested that where a person was raised often influenced their choice of political party, on the eve of our golden wedding anniversary, I'm reminded that the first serious difference of opinion my wife and I ever had was during the 1959 general election - which was actually a few months before we actually tied the knot.
Although her father was from middle-class family, my wife was raised by her mother who lived on a council estate; so, it goes almost without saying that she was minded to vote for the Labour candidate. My own background was rather more privileged and I supported the Tory.
As I write, I really can't remember who voted for whom. I do know, however, that in those days, it wouldn't have been unusual for a husband to expect his wife to pay some heed to the 'Obey' section of the marriage ceremony and, interestingly, as the years have passed, although I have voted for all three of the major parties, my wife has become a strong supporter of conservative principles.
The main lesson to be drawn from my own experiences is that it is difficult to understand why anyone should feel 'obliged' to support one or another political party just because ones parents did so. Sadly, however, this does seem to be the case - even in these enlightened times.
I'm reminded of 1997 when NEW Labour won their famous victory. By that time, having been self-employed for many years, despite an occasional flirtation with other parties, my natural inclination was usually to vote Conservative. Paradoxically, however, I had always harboured a quiet regard for what Karl Marx espoused. Anyone who has studied what Clement Attlee, Nye Bevan & Co. achieved using socialist principles after WW2 can't help but be impressed.
Since those times, however, much as I respected socialism, I have grown to distrust socialists. In my opinion, far too many abandon their principles the moment they are elected into office. Trade union officials, local government officers, and MPs become capitalists within moments of gaining 'power'. In so doing, I believe they have betrayed those who voted for them and, as a consequence, I hold many of them in contempt.
Having said that, many Conservatives MPs weren't a lot better. Some seemed to be doing all they could to drag the party into the gutter. Sleaze became a byword for the Tories and it was only Neil Kinnock's crazed, self-congratulatory, antics in the lead-up to the 1992 election which allowed John Major to remain in office.
Returning to the 1997 election, although I recognised that the Tories were probably a spent force, I had also reached a point where I felt that many of the younger generation had little or no concept of how easily Labour governments had turned their back on socialism. So, I reckoned it might not be a bad idea for the Great British public to be given the opportunity to experience their duplicity - and inviting that nice young Tony Blair to take the helm might open their eyes.
In the event, I hadn't realised just how quickly he would embrace capitalism and, in so doing, Mr. Blair become the finest Tory Prime Minister this country has had since the redoubtable Mrs. Thatcher. Furthermore, during the early years of his chancellorship, Gordon Brown made no secret of the fact that he would do nothing to change the systems and procedures his predecessor, Ken Clarke, had put into place.
It wasn't surprising, therefore, that it didn't take too long for the real socialists within the government to realise that they may have been hoodwinked - but it was too late for them to do anything about it. Even John Prescott was wrong-footed by the old employers' ruse of inviting poacher to become gamekeeper. By the way, I wonder how long will it be before he allows his sainted and long-suffering wife to 'persuade' him to accept a peerage?
Anyway, the point I'm making in this particular contribution is that despite a reluctant recognition that they have been taken for a ride my Blair & Co., I'm astonished by how many of those who voted for him seem unable - and, I dare say, unwilling - to consider the alternatives available to them.
Now that, in addition to being rather stupid, is sad.