When we were children my mum always stopped to talk to the lollypop lady outside my old primary school in Stockport. She was a nice lady, my mum said, except for one thing – she voted Tory. I was shocked when I heard it. I couldn’t imagine how a nice lady like that could do such an awful thing.
It had long since been impressed on me that the Tory’s were bad rich people who stole from the poor. So why did the Lollipop lady who earned a pittance for standing in the middle of traffic vote for them ?
‘Her daughter’s gone to Oxford. She thinks she’s one of them now,’ my mum kept saying.
Each lunchtime we filed into the school dining hall to tables upon which were rows of miniature milk bottles, complete with a little blue straw. They looked exciting to me, as we didn’t get child-sized bottles of milk at home, or straws and I desperately wanted one.
I never did get one to take home, however. The Milk Snatcher stole them.
In the playground, we sang a ditty with accompanying mime of a stick figure getting squashed between the palms.
‘Here’s Margaret Thatcher
Flick her up and catch her
Squishy squashy squishy squashy
Theres Margaret Thatcher’
If you’d asked us who she was; we couldn’t have answered for certain, only that she ruled over the land and took our things and put our parents into a frothing rage at the mere mention of her name. I knew what she looked like however, because my parents let us stay up late and watch Spitting Image and nobody decent would want anything to do with such a dreadful looking, crow nosed puppet that stole milk and made my mum so angry.
Nobody except the Lollipop lady of course. I used to look at her smile as I crossed the road and try to see the evil in her that voted Tory.
Fast forward to this election when my mum, and pretty much every other Tory hater from the eighties, begrudgingly put her X in the Tory box. I expect the Lollipop lady did too, though she’s long since abandoned her post.
‘Well there’s nobody left to vote for is there,’ Mum said with a sigh, ‘but still, it did feel a bit dirty. ‘
What happened to the laughter when she switched on Thatcher’s final Spitting Image episode where the haggard old puppet walked alone in the Houses of Parliament weeping.
‘Ha ha! Off you go you evil old cow!’
But these are bygone eras. That England is gone, but Labour has not noticed. And the North has moved on. When Corbyn attends the Miners Gala, he is attending a relic, something in the same category as Morris dancing or Maypole twirling.
Mum voted for Blair with the same exuberance as everybody else. But by the end of his premiership, much of the working class had soured against him. The Iraq war was incredibly damaging to the image of a party that insisted on claiming the moral high ground.
Boris’s landslide victory came as no surprise to me. Labour has, over the years, become an increasingly distant entity in the lives of ordinary people around here. The left may bang on about their solidarity with the working class, but change ‘working class’ to ‘uneducated white male’ and you will know what they really mean; thick, racist, knuckle-dragging ‘gammons’ on the wrong side of history.
The pronoun policing, the sneering, the hatred of progress; of poor people having holidays, driving cars, eating nice food getting treated equally. All these blend together into a growing conviction that we were not the many in their eyes, but the dwindling few that need not be listened to.
Has Labour learnt anything by its defeat? If their present choice of candidates for leader is confined to super rich socialists such as Emily Thornberry, (Lady Nugee) married to a wealthy judge, millionaire lawyer Keir Starmer, or the far left in the form of Rebecca Long Bailey, lawyer, they can expect good slapping at the next bye election, not that they will take any notice. Labour is a political corpse awaiting the embalmers.