Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I learned the truth at seventeen

That love was meant for beauty queens, and high school girls with clear skin smiles, who married young and then retired.

Actually that was Janis Ian's experience of being seventeen. But having been tagged by Stephen Glenn (well he said "feel free to have a go yourself" and I read those words and assumed he was speaking directly to me) I thought I would have a crack at this "Politics and me at Seventeen" meme.

I did also sort of learn the truth (about politics in my case) because I studied "British Government and Politics" at A-Level and it opened my eyes to the full wonder of our political system. It was also at the age of seventeen in 1991 that I visited the Houses of Parliament for the first time on a politics class trip guided by our then MP Gordon Oakes. I think he was a bit sozzled and perhaps not the best guide but it was amazing to see inside the place which had only just been opened up to the TV cameras.

Thatcher had just been deposed, a general election was imminent, EMF were in the charts, comedy was about to become the new rock and roll. Times were good for the young political enthusiast.

And yet I never got directly involved. As I have discussed previously on this blog I actually only finally joined a political party last year (2008) at the age of 33. Looking back now I am not really sure why. I think when I was that age I was more interested in socialising (by which I mean going out and getting trolleyed) and the ladies than sitting in rooms debating policy positions with the type of people who were generally considered geeks. It sounds a bit sad to say that now because I probably would have loved doing it given how much I was in awe of politics. I can still vividly remember a hustings that took place in our Widnes Sixth Form College in the run up to the 1992 general election where the candidates from the 3 main parties took questions from the assembled stroppy teenagers. I asked a question about the River Mersey in case you are interested (I am too embarrassed to say exactly what that question was now although I do recall).

I can still remember the names of the candidates. Gordon Oakes for Labour (the incumbent - see above), David Reaper for the Lib Dems and Grant Mercer for the Tories. Mercer was clearly a parachuted in candidate earning his spurs in an unwinnable seat. I can still remember him reeling off central office statistics in a vain bid to convince a fairly partisan crowd that the Tory government was doing some good! Incidentally, if anyone knows what happened to either of the Lib Dem or Tory candidates subsequently I would interested to hear.

Anyway, I suppose that's about all I have to say for this meme. In some ways I regret not having got involved in politics earlier, but on the other hand I have been able to form a clear and strong political identity independent of parties and then choose the one that most closely matches me today.

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