We will laughTen years ago, I was still awake. A few hours of sleep, then up again to watch the Labour Party move into Number 10, the first change of government since I was born. The night before, I began by watching The Election Night Armistice; vandalising the Blue Peter garden, watching the last Old Labour policy fly away into the night, and the climax, a celebration of '18 Years of Tory Arse'. Everybody knew that the Tories were going to lose. Even they had become resigned to it. What we didn't know was just how bad it was going to be. The race had narrowed slightly in the polls, but as the returns began coming in, it was soon clear that it was a dangerous night to be wearing a blue rosette. The Scottish got their revenge for the Poll Tax by kicking the whole party out of the country, and even the South wash swimming in a tide of red. And then there was that moment. Was it 3am? 4? The BBC went over to Enfield Southgate for the final icing on the cake. The smug grin finally wiped from Michael Portillo's face as a safe Conservative seat fell to Labour. After that, I went to bed. Nothing was going to top that. When did the rot set in, then? Probably from the start, to be honest. It did begin reasonably well, though. Signing up to the Social Chapter, the minimum wage, handing interest rate control over to the Bank of England, and actually doing something about Northern Ireland. Yet, for all the new money pouring into public services, they were still wedded to the Tory ideal of targets, privatisation, league tables, and internal markets. I began to break with them during the period they were passing the RIP Act (though, in today's Britain, it seems almost liberal compared to the Prevention of Terrorism Act that we have), but it was the London Mayor debacle that finished my full support of Labour. It was such a waste of energy; given the purpose of the GLA and the new Mayor, there was only one person who was ever going to win that race. Despite their antipathy for him, New Labour should just have let Ken have his day. Instead, they embarked on a campaign that made them look rather stupid. Then, of course, September 11th 2001 changed everything. Or not. Instead, it just allowed Blair to indulge in his autocratic tendencies, restricting personal freedoms, increasing the reach of the state, and lumbering us with an expensive and pointless ID card system. Oh, and the standing side-by-side with Bush even as it became clear that the neo-conservative vision was a mirage, being complicit in massaging evidence of Iraq's WMD capability, and the importing of the 'if you're not with us, you're against us' philosophy that has poisoned American politics. As a result, in 2007, Blair has finally achieved his wish: he is the Labour Party's Thatcher. And like her, he will shuffle off the stage broken, a liability to the Party at large. Ten years ago, I was hopeful. Now? Somewhat cynical. A shame, really.
The day that Thatcher dies
Even though we know it's not right
We will sing and dance all night