Earliest political memory of the day #6

epm-06I have two early political memories. I think what stands out for me is why they still resonate and the significance of the place/time that the memories evoke.

The first, is in a CofE Sunday School when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I never enjoyed Sunday School – I found it simultaneously dull and intimidating, and couldn’t understand the need to segregate children from adults. I think this mirrored my dad’s view, who was a curate in the parish and was keen to include children in services, rather than shut them away in the church hall. However, the congregation was predominantly older and upper middle class, and not particularly friendly towards children (I would get a lot of hard stares and tuts for talking/playing). The topic of the Sunday School for that day was along the lines of ‘who is a good leader’ (presumably with the implicit assumption that Jesus embodies all of the ‘good’ qualities of a leader). We were asked to volunteer names of ‘good leaders’, which were being written up on a chalkboard, and as my contribution I said ‘the prime minister’. The Sunday School Teacher replied “no, we already have John Major”. I remember feeling a bit crushed that my choice had been dismissed and that I hadn’t realised who the prime minister was.

As a second memory, I remember the day New Labour were voted into government in May 1997 (during my first year of secondary school). My dad had been listening to the radio in the morning when it was announced that John Major had been defeated. I remember how pleased he was that a Labour government was ‘finally’ back in power. Without really understanding what the Labour party stood for, I listened enthusiastically to the discussions between my parents about the prospect of ‘change’. Until then I couldn’t really recall a time that my parents had spoken at length about politics. In school other children were also excitedly talking about the election. There was a feeling of elation in the air that seemed to move contagiously between us and our teachers, though I had no real sense of what this change would mean other than that it was now supposed to make things ‘better’ for ‘people’ now. I remember deciding from that day that Labour was now ‘my’ party (though it hasn’t always stayed that way since!)

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