It’s amazing how quickly it can come to seem like ancient history, but a couple of months on, time enough for the pain of May 7th to ease a little, I can reflect on the UK general election campaign with a little objectivity.
“Now, let me just explain our long-term economic plan again…”
Having left government employment, 2015 was the first general election since 1983 when I was free to throw myself into the campaign. I wanted Labour to win, and was gutted that they did not. But leaving that aside, what a strange ritual they are. So here, in as apolitical a way as I can manage, are some things I learned.
(This article was originally published in Nursery World on 28 July)
In the song, ‘Step Right Up’, Tom Waits hymns the virtues of a mystery product. For only a dollar it does just about anything you would ever want, including mowing the lawn, picking up the kids, walking the dog and doubling on sax.
In recent times it has appeared that the mystery product, at least as far as policymakers are concerned, is the holy grail of affordable, quality childcare. It can boost children’s chances of later school success, solve child poverty, hoist low-income families out of worklessness and boost the economy. With all these benefits on offer, no wonder this field of policy has become increasingly crowded. We have had Government publications (the wittily entitled and creatively-evidenced ‘More Great Childcare’ and ‘More Affordable Childcare’). There have also been significant reports in recent times from organisations such as IPPR, Policy Exchange, and now – most recently – the Lib Dem thinktank CentreForum.
I’ve been very remiss in failing to keep up to date. Here’s my excuse: life has taken a slightly surprising turn.
In the local elections of 22 May many of the headlines were about the UK Independence Party. But, here in those unfashionable parts of south London, UKIP were barely to be seen. Here the story was of the growing strength of London’s Labour Party.
Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, and humble Candidate Barnham
Two elections ago, in 2006, Lewisham Council was finely balanced, with 26 Labour councillors, facing a rainbow opposition of 17 Liberal Democrats, 6 Greens, 3 Conservatives and 2 Socialists. A couple of weeks ago, Lewisham elected 53 Labour councillors, with an opposition of one lonely Green councillor.
Among the 53 was me, a cork bobbing on a Labour tide!