Saturday, 8 May 2010

Pausing to remember

It's been a strange week. Half of my thoughts and attention on trying to finish, revise and edit a short story; the other half caught up in the most intriguing election I've ever experienced.
There hasn't been much time for blogging, but I've had so many conversations in the last few days. People have become eager to share their thoughts and convictions - whatever the colour of their politics - there is a willingness to consider and debate the options and the possible outcomes. That leaves me with a good deal of hope that something good will emerge from all this confusion.
I'm also left with a quite a lump of sadness.
My Dad was a politician, not at Westminster, although that was his, sadly unfulfilled, ultimate ambition. He was, instead a dedicated member then Leader of our local Council, an Alderman of the Greater London Council and a much respected member of his party. I have so many memories associated with previous elections. Barely seeing him for weeks on end, but then very proudly accompanying him to visit the local party offices, where groups of women were sitting stuffing envelopes; admiring his campaign portrait - head on one side, slight smile, posing with a pen and a pile of papers to sign, as an indication of his importance and value. I have vague images of my mum, worrying about her hair and her clothes for various functions. I can remember waking up in the early hours, hearing my parents return from a late-night count, knowing from the tone of their voices whether it had gone the right way.
Dad died a long time ago now, but election days still bring him very much into my thoughts. I've never quite got over my feelings of guilt that, no matter how strong and clearly reasoned my decision process, I don't and never have voted for the party he belonged to. Nevertheless, I can't help but wish that I had a chance to talk to him this week, to know his reaction to the way the campaign has gone - what he thought of the TV debates, the newspaper editorials, even the twitter streams and facebook groups that were never even imagined in his days. I would dearly love to know what he thought of the prospect of a hung parliament, a minority government or a coalition, and perhaps even changes to the electoral system.
When I was a kid he was the cleverest man in the world. He always knew the answer, and he could always explain things to me. Following the events of Thursday, and the continuing maelstrom of political conjecture and hyperbole, I'm sorry that I can't hear his voice putting it all into context for me.
So today, I shall pause for a while and raise a toast to Bernard Perkins, the best Prime Minister Britain never had.

8 comments:

Elisabeth said...

This would have to be one of the more thoughtful and sanguine things I've read about the British election yet.

We hear rumbles about it here in Australia but I imagine the rumbles there must be far more unsettling.

I find the story of your father poignant and very beautiful and like you, even if his politics were not as you'd have liked, I salute him.

Philip said...

That was lovely. I would have liked an opportunity to argue (politely) with him. It is rarely the most admirable people who get to the top of the slippery post.
Philip.

Pat said...

You must feel very proud of your father and who knows - maybe age will change your views and you could end up with his convictions.
I changed my views in 1979 - for what it's worth.

Liz said...

We've been living with a minority govt for several years now and it does keep all parties in check. Even with the dictator that we have (okay, that's my opinion) there still has to be some cooperation or another election would be triggered and none of the parties want that (at least until they have a majority in sight).

Your words about your Dad are beautiful. It would be interesting to hear what he thought.

Sharon Longworth said...

Elizabeth,
Thank you - both for your supportive words and for the salute.

Philip,
I can imagine the lively conversations you two might have had.......

Pat,
I'm sure we all change our views over time - and the political parties have certainly moved since my dad's days, so, as you say, who knows?

Liz,
I'm watching and waiting to see how it all turns out - I really hope we do end up with something a bit different in the end.

Charlie said...

I am American, but I have followed the MP race with interest through my UK blog friends and The Guardian.

But more than that, I think your tribute to your father was lovely. A man of morals and principles are indeed rare among politicians. And you should not feel guilty for voting what is in your heart.

Helena Halme said...

What a beautiful post. We'd all love to have Father like yours. You must miss him very much.

Helena xx

Eryl Shields said...

Your dad sounds great, and like he would more than happily respect your clearly reasoned decision to vote for the party of your choice.

Very nice post, Sharon.