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1992 And All That. Memories of The Horror Election

I was idly flicking around the TV channels when I stumbled on BBC Parliament who were broadcasting the results show and the full-scale horror of 1992 General Election which took place TWENTY years ago today. Yikes!

Nationally it very close and we were ahead going into the last week, but Major was personally popular and was in a honeymoon period after Thatcher was deposed and ended up polling a UK record of 14 million votes.

Plus they had the press. The Scum and Express were particularly vicious with low, personal attacks on Neil Kinnock. They produced a list of people who said they would leave the country if Labour won, and the headline in the Scum on the day said, “Would the last person left in the UK turn out the lights” (if Labour win). As regards that list; still waiting Andrew Lloyd Webber and Phil Collins, would you like a lift?  

John Smith messed up with a Shadow Budget was naïve and allowed the Tories to wheel out the tax and spend charge. Honest but tactically wrong. The Tories put them up far more in the end! 

However I was on Planet Labour and couldn’t see how we could lose. Who could possibly vote for that lot? 

We received such support on the doorsteps and although we couldn’t win the seat (Uxbridge, West London) we wanted our vote to be solid, and it was in our ward where we had come from third place to win in 1990. 

Everyone was saying do it for us! I felt ten foot tall walking home after the polls shut. People beeping their horns and shouting support as I walked home, four pack in one hand and a Chinese in the other to watch our inevitable entry into Downing Street. 

But horror was to unfold as we watched the results come in and see that Major had achieved the biggest popular vote in history to win fairly easily with a majority of over 20 seats. Given the state of the economy it was more fear of a Labour administration than a positive Tory vote.  

I was devastated. I just couldn’t believe it and I cried on the night. 

Unlike 2010, 1992 was instant. The exit polls were bad and by 2am it was game over. 

The next day I remember haranguing my Year 10 class about how my age group had messed it up and how they must not do the same, me at the ripe old age of 23! I’m sure they were enthralled.  

We had to change or face oblivion and resign people to exploitation for another 10 years.

The BNP stood against us in our diverse West London Constituency and were particularly interested in our ward as it was very working class and had a fair amount of British Asian voters. The school where I taught had over 50% of students from non white British and Asian backgrounds. 

We weren’t too concerned until they followed us on a dark Monday night at the start of the campaign. 

Nothing was said but it was enough to scare me ,let me tell you. I was assured this was standard practice and they would leave us alone thinking they had put the wind up us. 

I’m sad to say it wasn’t the end and the following Sunday they followed me my canvassing partner Simon (who was Jewish so he had extra special reason to be fearful) and we were getting more and more worried. 

Then two of them came over and said, “We know where you live”. I could feel the blood pumping in my ears, but we didn’t flinch and just carried on. Four blokes against a pensioner and me. Big men. 

I said call the Cops but the other comrades said it would up the only up ante and give the Fascists satisfaction. 

But the next Tuesday I was bringing 15 Year 7 girls back from a church visit. 15 BNP types were waiting to leaflet white pupils and intimidate Asian ones. They racially abused the kids and threatened me. I said heads down and run!

I called the Old Bill. They came 1/2 later and said there was nothing they could do, and unless punches were thrown not to bother them again


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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