Another Time and Place

Elections, even US elections, bring it all flooding back.

In my youth, I was a political animal, Neither ashamed nor defensive about that. It was just what I was. My first memory is the 1959 election. Lying on the floor of the lounge in an Army house on the Bulbridge Estate in Wilton filling in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ constituency map of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in either blue or red (other colours were not really necessary) as the results poured in over the radio on the Friday afternoon and evening.

At 14, I joined the Young Conservatives, Young Liberals and Young Socialists to sample their wares. In those happy days, the young Scottish Nationalists were drooling incompetents so I felt no urge to sign up to them. Not a lot of change there, when I think about it.

I admit to having had my knee stroked by Jeremy Thorpe in the bar of the ‘Salutation Hotel’ in Perth, but that did not turn me Liberal. YS were never serious starters, to be fair, so I settled on the Tories as my party of choice. It was fun, starting with my first election activism in 1964. Wrote a McGonagall pome for that one as I recall:-

‘T’was the fifteenth of October in the year of ’64,
When Labour won the election, a thing I do deplore.
Their majority was five which later turned to three,
Thanks to Patrick Gordon-Walker, then Foreign Secretary,
For he lost the vote at Smethwick and later on Leyton,
By which he lost both the seats and his Parliamentary station…….’

I’ll spare you the rest, even although it is all still seared into my very sad memory.

Uni of Embra in 1967 and we’re talking ‘Bliss was it in that dawn’ time. I lived it and I loved it.

In 1970, I thought that Edward Heath was a great man. I now realise of course, that I could perhaps have been slightly wrong about that. But, I threw myself into that 1970 election with a fervour. We were sure we were going to lose but we were going to try our best. We were allocated to the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency held by our boy, Norman Wylie with a majority of about 60 in 1966. The national polls were against us and we thought that all we were doing was damage limitation.

I knocked my volunteer pan out for three weeks. My last remembered act of the campaign is harassing a boy out of his bath and huckling him to the polling station with half an hour to go. Tired and expecting defeat, we all adjourned to get blootered. The first result in showed a big swing to us and thereafter it all went pure magic. Norman won by 3,000 votes.

I moved on after that and went down the non-polly road to a respectablish job. I will always wonder whether I would have had the necessary thick skin and mental flexibility to be a proper politician.

Whatever, the blood still fires when there’s elections about so I will be watching tonight’s developments.

More importantly, I’m going to be right back in there kicking ScotNat backsides when referendum time comes. Keep Scotland British!


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