…In 24 hours from the time I am writing this, the polling booths will have closed and
Election 87 on the BBC will have begun.
Opinion polls show another Tory government with another Labour opposition
but who knows?
That may not be right.
You can’t judge the opinion polls, and the biggest and most important opinion poll
is the one taking place tomorrow from 7am to 10pm when the nation will be able to exercise their vote…
I sound so pompous here. Yes, more than usual.
This was one of those occasions where I was using my diary to hold forth on something I couldn’t do in public. I’ve already mentioned that nobody at school was interested in the election, neither teachers nor pupils. At home my dad helped me with my list of marginal seats and had chipped in to help buy me the ITN Election 87 Factbook. But that was about it. I knew of no kindred spirits for my interest in and obsession with the election. Naturally, therefore, I kept quiet. Very very quiet.
Yet despite fussing persistently over the mechanics of the election and the practicalities of polling day, I didn’t have any sort of opinion over who ought to win. I wasn’t supporting anybody. Sure, I knew what all the main parties stood for, but I didn’t have any real awareness of what their policies meant, or could mean, for the country.
I did not grow up in, to use a phrase so beloved of the statesman’s memoir, a “political household”. We did not discuss privatisation and trade union reform over the kitchen table – not least because we didn’t have a table in the kitchen. I think one of my parents voted Conservative right through the 1980s. But they certainly never broadcast the fact, and I can’t recall any sort of political discussion, never mind argument, taking place until the end of the decade, when Thatcher was on the ropes, our neighbours had announced they were refusing to pay the poll tax, and I first nailed my colours to a mast.
But that’s not for now.
All I was bothered about on this day in 1987 was whether I’d be able to stay up late on a school night to see a few results. Who’d be first to declare: Cheltenham, Guildford or Torbay?